Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged that his country will become carbon neutral by 2050. “Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” he said in October, “I declare we will aim to realize a decarbonized society.”
While this promise is both welcome and ambitious, Japan’s pledge comes nearly a year after the European Union, which in 2019 proposed a climate law that would create a legally binding target of net zero carbon by 2050. Further, despite its green rhetoric, Japan’s climate change record at home and abroad has been mixed at best. To accomplish Suga’s ambitious goals, Japan will need to learn from other countries and pursue major political and economic reforms.