With its nuclear power plants mostly idled since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan continues its quest to increase imports of liquefied natural gas, especially from Australia.

By volume, Australia was Japan's largest LNG supplier in fiscal 2012, exporting 17.06 million tons, or 19.6 percent of Japan's total import volume. But with the rise of cheaper shale gas in the United States, how long Japan will remain Australia's best LNG customer is uncertain as tension over pricing grows and competition elsewhere in Asia means more potential suppliers for Japan and customers for Australia.

During a recent seminar on the Australia-Japan energy relationship in Brisbane hosted by Griffith University's Asia Institute, energy experts from both countries noted there were several challenges to their domestic energy situations and the bilateral energy relationship, which besides LNG includes Australian exports of coal — and uranium.