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Release: Japan’s Economy is Exposed to Significant Security Risks from Climate Change, Experts Warn

Japanese Industry in an Unstable Climate_Cover_May 2019Climate Change Lessons From the US Military_For Japanese Industry_Cover_2019_5Tokyo, Japan, May 30, 2019 – Japan’s economic competitiveness is threatened by a heavy reliance on imports from countries that face multiple climate change-exacerbated security risks, and Japan can take lessons from the U.S. military’s vulnerabilities to climatic changes, according to two new Japan Series reports (here and here) from experts at The Center for Climate and Security, a think tank in Washington DC with a team and Advisory Board of senior military and security leaders. The reports come ahead of Japan’s hosting of two G20 ministerial meetings on Trade and Digital Economy (June 8-9) and Energy Transitions for Global Environment for Sustainable Growth (June 15-16).

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Ret), Senior Member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Energy, Installations and Environment, and author of both of the report’s forewords, stated: “The US military understands that climate change poses real and substantial threats to our installations and security interests, and is doing something about it. Japanese industry could benefit from a similar hard-nosed approach to ensure it isn’t caught off-guard, that it understands the full scope of climate-related threats, and that investment decisions, including energy investment decisions, are taken with this future picture in mind.”

In the first report, titled “Japanese Industry in an Unstable Climate: Reducing Exposure to the Security Implications of Climate Change,” the authors note that the gap between assessing political risks and assessing climate change hazards misses crucial interactions between these threats. Climate change and associated security risks could critically disrupt supply chains for the automotive and electronics industries, for example, endangering Japan’s competitive advantage in these sectors.

The findings show that seventeen percent of Japan’s imports come from countries facing medium to high climate change and security vulnerabilities.

Rachel Fleishman, Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific at the Center for Climate and Security and co-author of both reports, said, “The business case for addressing climate-related risk is clear: while potentially costly in the near-term, not acting is even more expensive. These risks could cause instability in locations with substantial Japanese investment across Asia.  Instability is not good for business, in any sense.”

The potential for climate change to drive instability in countries vital to Japan’s economy, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, is an under-examined risk that Japanese companies need to consider, the expert analysis concludes. Flooding, cyclones, sea level rise and other climate change impacts, could all disrupt major manufacturing centers in the region, with knock-on consequences for social and political systems in countries that already face underlying security challenges ranging from demographic pressures to violent extremist organizations.

Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs at the Center for Climate and Security and co-author of these reports, noted: “Southeast Asia’ profound vulnerabilities to climate change and security issues threaten growth and stability across and beyond the region, giving leaders a responsibility to prepare to avoid the worst outcomes of a more turbulent future.”

The second report in the Japan Series, titled “Climate Change Lessons From the US Military: What Japanese Industry Can Learn From Another Global Enterprise,” explores similarities in the US military’s exposure to the security risks of climate change, and that of major Japanese companies that operate internationally. Large Japanese companies have a physical infrastructure footprint that is located in parts of the world that are extremely vulnerable to extreme weather and other climate security hazards, such as Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The kind of planning the US military has done to assess and address climate change risks could inform Japanese industry, boosting their existing climate risk management approaches, and preserving their competitive advantage in the medium-term.

The Honorable John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, and co-author of both reports, stated “It is clear that climate change poses security threats in the Pacific region, particularly in southeast Asian countries that are very important to Japanese industries and their supply chains.  This makes it an issue of economic self-interest for Japan to tackle climate change challenges today, and an opportunity to pursue policies that position its economy better for the future.”

Japan’s economic climate vulnerabilities should also be a consideration that is factored into the business and security case for energy infrastructure investment decisions in the region, the analysis concludes, as a faster low-carbon energy transition will significantly reduce climate change-related security risks.

The two reports, issued by a security organization with the endorsement of a senior military leader with deep experience on global energy security and climate security matters, raise the stakes for Japan’s energy investment decisions, and strongly point the way forward for a more climate resilient approach.

Available for press inquiries

Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs, The Center for Climate and Security, sfetzek at climateandsecurity dot org

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Ret), Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security (contact Shiloh Fetzek)

Hon. John Conger, Director, The Center for Climate and Security, jconger at climateandsecurity dot org

Read Japan Series Report 1: Japanese Industry in an Unstable Climate: Reducing Exposure to the Security Implications of Climate Change:

Read Japan Series Report 2: Climate Change Lessons from the US Military, What Japanese industry can learn from another global enterprise:

Read the Japan Series Fact Sheet covering both reports:

More resources:

The Center for Climate and Security:

1 Comment

  1. Andrew DeWit says:

    Very detailed and nicely timed for the G20. The reports don’t appear to know how Japan’s FY 2019 JPY 5.3 trillion National Resilience program has organized disaster-resilient supply chains and business continuity planning, while simultaneously cutting emissions. But still, this kind of regional analysis is able to stress the climate and military security aspects that Japanese analyses find hard to talk about because of the politics of peace and the US-Japan alliance.

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