Resources & Energy

Unit Members

Japan confronts many resource- and energy-related issues, as it has long been dependent on imports to meet its needs for fossil fuels, mineral resources, and foodstuffs. These have been compounded in recent years by including the reconstruction of energy policies due to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and changes in the social and economic structure, including the declining birthrate and the aging population structural changes in the social and economic structure. Nuclear power plants, missing landowners, various problems surrounding Japanese resources and energy are beginning to surface. This unit aims at policy suggestions from various perspectives to tackle such structural problems of Japan and to create a sustainable society.

Energy Transition and Emerging Risks

Project members will examine what the unprecedented structural shift in energy systems will entail, looking at global trends and analyzing resource-related risks for Japan.

To achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, ratifying countries must adopt energy policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fulfill their intended nationally determined contributions (INDC). Countries around the world will thus be stepping up their efforts to reduce use of fossil fuels and promote the growth of the clean energy sector by opting for renewable sources and energy-efficient equipment, leading to an unprecedented “energy transition” on a global scale.

This transition will transform a market that had been shaped by the competing interests of energy suppliers and consumers and could alter the geopolitical balance of power. While promoting decarbonization, the shift to high-efficiency, energy-saving equipment will raise demand for rare earths and other mineral resources essential for the production of renewable energy facilities and storage batteries. This can become a new risk factor should the supply of such resources become unstable. The project will elucidate the risks associated with the energy transition and outline suitable responses.

Project leader: Hikaru Hiranuma, Research Fellow, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

Project members
Tsunehiko Nakagawa, Representative Director, Japan-China Car Society Institute (alliance partner of Nissan China Investment)
Ken’ichi Nakajima, Chairman, Re-Tem Corp.
Kazuyo Matsubae, Professor, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University

Socioeconomic and Ecosystem Factors in Marine Resource Management

This project will conduct comparative institutional and regional research, econometric and management analysis, and a review of socioeconomic literature to shed light on longer-term issues in marine resource management. Members will examine the practices of foreign countries, assess the fairness and effectiveness of resource management policies, and explore approaches to enhancing the competitiveness of Japan’s primary sector. The project will identify key issues and propose policy directions while highlighting the importance of data collection and scientific management approaches.

Of the major fishing countries, only Japan has seen its aquaculture catch rapidly and steadily decline for 30 years since the mid-1980s. The main culprit is an outdated legal system focused on balancing stakeholder interests, rather than promoting sustainable resource management based on scientific evidence.

The more progressive countries are advancing policies for the sustainable management of fishery resources, including the use of numerical targets. They are setting limits on total catch based on scientific evidence and allocating quotas to individual fishing entities to ensure resource conservation and sustainability, raise productivity, and accommodate consumer preferences. Some countries, notably Norway and New Zealand, have moved into the second phase of reform to further enhance robustness, sustainability, and transparency.

This project will draw on the experience of the progressive countries to shed light on how Japan can improve marine resource management. Members will apply their specialist knowledge to conduct research and assessment both from a broad perspective and with attention to detail on the policy directions Japan should take.

Project leader: Masayuki Komatsu, Senior Fellow, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research; Visiting Research Professor, Asian Growth Research Institute

Project members:
Tatsuo Hatta, Distinguished Fellow, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research; Director, Keizai Doyukai Center for Policy Study and Analysis
Makoto Arizono, Fisheries Promotion Section Manager, Yamaguchi Prefecture; Marine Resources Analyst
Kenji Mochizuki, Former Deputy Director, Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba
Yasuhiro Takarada, Professor, Facullty of Economics, Nanzan University
Bill Court, President, Transpac Fisheries, Ltd.

Japan’s “Unclaimed Land” Crisis

The focus of the project is to bring the public’s attention—mainly through the publication of online articles—to the problem of land that is going unregistered after the owner passes away.

The issue of “missing landowners” has quickly grown into a crisis in Japan. The problem emerges when heirs fail to update the real property registry following an inheritance and cannot be readily reached; this became a major obstacle to reconstruction efforts following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, when owners of higher-lying land could not be located. It can also thwart efforts to deal with related issues like abandoned homes and farmland.

Policy measures to address the problem are gaining momentum. A special-measures law to facilitate public use of abandoned and idle property was enacted in June 2018, and the 2018 Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform outlined plans to pass needed legal reforms by 2020.

While the dilemma of unclaimed land requires an immediate policy response, it has not yet been thoroughly analyzed. The problem encompasses a variety of issues and must be address through a cross-disciplinary approach. This project, through the online articles by experts from a variety of backgrounds, seeks to be become a hub for the accumulation and dissemination of insights that will hopefully provide society as a whole a deeper, fuller understanding of the problem.

Project leader: Shoko Yoshihara, Research Fellow, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

Project (web) members:
Akio Yamanome, Professor, Waseda Law School
Hiroya Masuda, Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo; Adviser, Nomura Research Institute
Mitsuyoshi Ando, Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo
Hisakazu Oishi, Director, National Land Policy Research Institute, Japan Institute of Country-ology and Engineering
Ken’ya Katayama, Mayor, Niseko, Hokkaido
Gakuto Takamura, Professor, Graduate School of Policy Science, Ritsumeikan University
Masayuki Nakagawa, Professor, College of Economics, Nihon University
Chie Nozawa, Professor, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Toyo University
Shin’ichi Fujimaki, Executive Officer, Mori Building

Unit Members


Hikaru Hiranuma


Masayuki Komatsu


Shoko Yoshihara


(Alphabetical order)