When the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami led to three core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, an atomic calamity that effectively put the nation's remaining 50 reactors out of action, Japan was suddenly faced with an energy crisis unseen since the oil shocks of the early 1970s.

Dependent on imports for the vast majority of its energy needs, the country had to return to burning fossil fuels, and scramble to find new sources of coal, oil and natural gas.

From Alaska to Texas to Australia to Indonesia, Japanese government officials, trading companies and utilities fanned out, putting more effort in developing relationships they already had while also searching for new energy markets.