In The Japan Times’ Time Out features Dec. 31, various predictions are made for Japan, but not one seriously considers the most unpredictable and most influential factor of all: energy sources and where they are to come from. Robotics, demographic changes, productivity are all ultimately affected by a regular and reliable source of oil and natural gas.

The current forecast is that energy-supply instability will last for the next 20 years. When the history of the first half of the 21st century comes to be written, it is likely that there will be a grimly deterministic tone to it. The geopolitics of energy will be the key question. It will be seen that Iraq, Iran, the Middle East in general, Russia and its former states, and the development or curtailment of the European Union, China and, perhaps most poignantly, Japan were held within the tight equation of energy.

n.r. williams

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