Paul Frey writes in his May 29 letter, “Japan’s return to the leading edge,” that Japan can be a leader in the “new” areas of wind, solar, geothermal, conservation and energy efficiency. That goal will certainly not be reached tomorrow, but I agree with Frey that Japan ought to take serious steps in that direction.
Despite vast resources (wind, geothermal and solar energy), Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which ruled the country for almost six decades, never demonstrated the vision or the will to shift to those energy sources. As a result, electricity from those sources still demands higher prices than coal- or nuclear power-generated electricity.
Nor did the LDP government take any initiatives to follow in the footsteps of other industrialized nations and change the building standards to ensure conservation and energy efficiency. If the LDP takes power again after the next election, as appears likely, then there is little hope of realizing Frey’s visions.
Even if Japanese citizens realize that they should vote for Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Democratic Party of Japan again, Frey’s visions are very farsighted. Japan has a very long way to go before claiming the leading edge in these fields. Some European countries already produce more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind power alone. And it seems that both China and South Korea have seen the potential long before Japan.
Japan will face hard times should it enter international competition as a leading manufacturer of technologies in these fields. Still, the Japanese domestic market in itself is huge.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.