Japan is one of the largest energy importers in the world, depending on overseas suppliers for most of its energy resources like oil and coal. Japan depends on coal for 17% of its primary energy. Coal is the second main energy resource after oil, which makes up 30% of the world's primary energy. Especially in Asia, demand for coal is expected to increase rapidly because of economic growth and limits on the region's oil reserves.
Coal production in the Asia-Pacific coal producing countries like Australia, China and Indonesia has been facing severe conditions. For example, open cut mining has been declining, while riskier underground mining has increased. Additional technical improvements will be essential to attain the supply required for the increased demand. These coal-producing countries are requesting technical support from Japan, which has the world-leading underground coal mining technology.
Additionally, compared with other fossil fuels, coal has adverse effects on the en-vironment, such as the emssion of carbon dioxide and sulfur oxides and the generation of coal ash when coal is burned. Growing global concerns over global environmental prob-lems, such as the greenhouse effect and acid rain, may restrict smooth expansion of coal utilization.
Therefore, Japan, which depends on overseas energy resources and is the world largest importer of coal, needs to guarantee stable energy supply and demand in Asia and stable energy supply for itself. To accomplish this, Japan should promote technical cooperation for overseas coal suppliers to Japan and also research and development aimed at clean coal technology. We should also transfer clean coal technology to Asian coal-using countries to overcome coal's environmental constrains and to spread the clean use of coal throughout Asia.
This paper, based on the current situation and on future global energy supply and demand, discusses these various topics, including Japan's policy of stable overseas coal supply, strategies of clean coal technology, and technical cooperation on the internation-al level.