Tokyo - J apanese gas buyers on Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary since the first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) arrived in Japan, now the world’s biggest importer of the fuel.
The arrival of the cargo on Nov. 4, 1969 helped transform Japan’s energy system, which had relied on oil, coal and gas from coal in an era of high growth, before nuclear power was developed. But Japan’s energy situation is undergoing huge changes in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, which pushed LNG imports to record highs as reactors were closed and the government liberalized the gas and power markets. LNG demand is forecast to decline steadily as more reactors are switched on and renewables backed by government-mandated high prices are developed. Coal has also seen an increase since Fukushima but social pressure on emissions means its use is being questioned.
“Japan has been leading the way to grow the LNG market, but we now have to think from a global viewpoint as Japan’s domestic demand will fall due to an ageing population and declining birthrate,” Michiaki Hirose, chairman of the Japan Gas Association, told reporters on Tuesday.