As the G20 Finance Ministers prepare to hold a meeting on July 18, one of the G20 countries has drawn criticism once again for continuing to use massive amounts of public funds to support projects harmful to people and the planet.

Japanese government hit for refusing to heed Asian people's call to stop its support for coal overseas


July 16, 2020

As the G20 Finance Ministers prepare to hold a meeting on July 18, one of the G20 countries has drawn criticism once again for continuing to use massive amounts of public funds to support projects harmful to people and the planet. Japan, despite a newly-revised coal finance policy that says it will not provide official financial support for any host country that does not have a confirmed policy for transition to decarbonization, is still considering to support three overseas coal-fired power projects.

"We are disappointed that Japan's new coal finance policy does not completely end official support for coal power projects overseas. It exempts projects currently under consideration, including the highly controversial Vung Ang 2 in Vietnam supported by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance; and Indramayu in Indonesia and Matarbari Phase 2 in Bangladesh, both supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency," said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).

On July 9, the Japanese government adopted principles for the next Infrastructure System Export Strategy. The new policy states that "the Japanese government, in principle, will not provide official support for new coal-fired power projects in any country where the Japanese government does not have a thorough understanding of that country's energy situation and issues as well as its policies toward decarbonization, such as through a framework for bilateral consultation regarding energy and environmental policies".

Japan has been among the world's largest providers of public finance for coal-fired power plants, and the main channels include the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI). It has been reported in recent months that it plans to continue its financing of the three highly controversial coal projects in Asia.

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) confirmed on June 22 that it will proceed with a preparatory survey by JICA for the proposed Phase 2 of the Matarbari ultra-supercritical coal-fired power project in Bangladesh. The Japanese government and JICA also announced last month that they will consider providing Indonesia with a loan for the construction of a 1,000MW coal-fired power plant in Indramayu, West Java by early 2021 once the Indonesian government makes a request to Japan. Last February, JBIC and NEXI disclosed that they have officially started to consider providing support for Vung Ang 2, a planned ultra-supercritical 2 x 600MW coal-fired power station in Central Vietnam.

"Local communities near the project sites, national groups in these countries, and other civil society organizations in Asia and globally have been strongly opposing these projects. But Japan remains deaf to the calls of the peoples of Asia to stop its promotion of coal overseas," said Nacpil.

"The Japanese government claims it is addressing climate change. It is trying to prove this claim with its recent announcement to mothball approximately 100 coal-fired power plants while simultaneously tightening government support for the export of coal-fired power. While this is a welcome development, we don't believe that Japan's reliance on coal is going to shift as evidenced by its decision to continue with its involvement in Vung Ang 2, Indramayu and Matarbari," Nacpil said.

On July 3, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshi Kajiyama, announced that Japan will close 90% of its inefficient coal-fired power plants by 2030, amounting to around 100 plants.

Nacpil slammed the new policy on domestic coal as lacking compliance with the Paris agreement, which seeks to keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"Closing ninety percent of inefficient coal plants will not make a difference. Japan must phase out all its coal plants because all coal energy must be phased out as soon as possible, before 2030, and replaced by clean and renewable energy in order to meet the goal of the Paris agreement. Rich and highly polluting countries must reach carbon zero by 2030 if the world is to have a chance at keeping temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Nacpil.

Controversial projects to proceed despite opposition

"The three controversial projects under consideration by Japan's public finance agencies are deadly in terms of emissions. These projects will emit way more pollutants than Japan would allow for coal-fired power plants it builds domestically," said Nacpil.

According to a Greenpeace report, Japan is financing coal-fired power plants overseas that create air pollution at levels that would not be accepted in Japan. Japan-financed coal plants in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh emit up to 13 times more nitrogen oxide, 33 times more sulphur dioxide (SO2), and 40 times more dust than those built in Japan.

Yuki Tanabe of Japan Center for Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES) said anti-coal groups in Asia have called on the government of Japan not to proceed with JICA'S preparatory survey for Matarbari and cancel the project itself because Bangladesh has no need for the project. The project has also failed to meet JICA's Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

"Construction costs for photovoltaic solar power in Bangladesh are already cheaper than coal. The maximum electricity reserve margin in Bangladesh is anticipated to be 69% and the actual reserve margin is expected to consistently exceed targets until 2041," Tanabe explained.

"The payment of compensation and provision of alternative housing have been marred by delays. The project has increased flooding due to damage to irrigation water channels and water gates; damaged community roads; and increased traffic accidents and sedimentation of rivers. Local communities have made repeated requests for the project owners and JICA to resolve these problems, but the responses have been slow," he added.

Japan has faced mounting calls to stop its involvement in Matarbari. In a demand letter issued in April by No Coal Japan, 28 organizations from 14 countries asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to support the Matarbari Phase 2 project. They said the project will worsen carbon emissions in Bangladesh, a country already reeling from the worst impacts of climate change. Last month, Matarbari, an island on the southeastern coast of Bangladesh, was hit by super cyclone Amphan. Over two million people were displaced.

Meanwhile, the Indramayu coal-fired power plant project is the subject of an ongoing petition led by Friends of the Earth (FoE) Japan. The petitioners said the project is not necessary because the Java-Bali electrical grid has excessive power supply and the project entails the risk of becoming a stranded asset. Based on the Indonesian government's plan, the reserve margin in the grid will be 30 to 45 percent until 2028.

The Vung Ang 2 coal-fired power plant project is also the subject of several petitions citing the project as unnecessary and will worsen pollution in Vietnam. In a September 2019 report, Carbon Tracker found that by 2022, the construction costs for solar power generation in Vietnam will be lower than the operating costs of existing coal-fired power plants. It has been widely reported that major polluters near Vung Ang 2 – the Vung Ang 1 coal-fired power plant, the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation's steel plant, which caused a massive fish kill in 2016 when it released toxic chemicals during a test run of the plant, and a Formosa power plant (coal and gas) – have been causing serious negative health impacts on local communities.

Last April 24, in an interview with Japanese business magazine Diamond Online about JBIC considering to support Vung Ang 2, JBIC Governor Tadashi Maeda was quoted as saying that the bank will no longer accept loan applications for coal-fired power generation projects. A week later, however, JBIC spokesperson Ryo Nishizaki said the bank has not changed its policy on financing coal power plants and that it continuously follows Japanese government policy.





Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)のコーディネーターであるリディ・ナクピル氏は、「日本の新しい石炭火力への投融資方針が、海外の石炭火力事業に対する公的支援を完全に中止しないことに対し、遺憾の意を表明します。この新方針は、国際協力銀行(JBIC)及び日本貿易保険(NEXI)が支援中のブンアン2(ベトナム)、国際協力機構(JICA)が支援を検討見込みのインドラマユ(インドネシア)及びマタバリ2(バングラデシュ)などの進行中のプロジェクトを対象外としています」と述べました。




ナクピル氏は「プロジェクトサイト近くの地域社会や住民、これらの国のグループ、そしてアジアや世界の市民社会はこのようなプロジェクトに強く反対してきました。しかし、日本は海外石炭火力への支援中止を要請するアジアの人々の主張を聞き入れません」 と述べました。

「日本政府は気候変動対策に取り組んでいると主張しています。約100基の石炭火力発電所を休廃止すると同時に、石炭火力輸出に対する政府の支援を強化するという最近の表明で、この主張を証明しようとしています。この進展を受け止める一方、ブンアン2、インドラマユ、マタバリへの関与を継続すると決定したことに対し、日本の石炭への依存が変化するとは信じていません」 とナクピル氏は述べました。








田辺氏は、「バングラデシュにおいて、太陽光発電の建設コストはすでに石炭より安くなっています。バングラデシュの供給予備率は最大で69%になることが想定されており、想定供給予備率は目標供給予備率を2041年までに一貫して上回っています」 と説明しました。


日本は、マタバリへの関与を停止するよう求められています。No Coal Japanが4月に発表した要請書では、14カ国の環境NGO28団体が安倍首相にマタバリ石炭火力発電フェーズ2事業への支援を行わないことを求めました。環境NGO団体は、同事業が、すでに気候変動の悪影響に苦しんでいるバングラデシュの炭素排出量を悪化させると述べています。先月、バングラデシュの南東海岸にある島、マタバリはスーパーサイクロン・アンファンに襲われ、200万人以上の人々が家を失いました。

一方で、インドラマユ石炭火力発電事業は、国際NGO FoEジャパンが進行している署名活動の対象となっています。同事業は、座礁資産化のリスクを抱えており、電力供給の過剰状態が指摘されているジャワ・バリ電力系統には新たな発電所を建設する必要がありません。インドネシア政府の計画に基づくと、2028年までの電力供給予備率は30〜45%で推移することが示されています。