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Ashland, OR 97520
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Earth at night...
Earth at Night
Astronomy Picture of the Day, NASA, Nov. 27th, 2002.

[As you can see in this National Geographic photo republished by FTW a year ago this month, Japan is all aglow at night.  During the day it’s an industrial powerhouse.  And it’s famous for its lack of natural resources.  Historically, Japan has exerted its martial culture to extract those resources from the Chinese mainland and the Korean peninsula.  But after the disarmament of Japan by a victorious United States, that option has been lost, and today rearmament is a Rightist position supported by an increasingly desperate American hegemon.  If Japan can’t control the South China Sea, if Japan can’t make the deals with Saudi Arabia that China is now locking up, if Japan can’t powerdown into a slower society that resembles Cuba more than North Korea, there will be darkness in the Land of the Rising Sun. –JAH]

Dispatches – (Japan)

Peak Oil and the Japanese Consumer

FTW Subscriber Rick D.

© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. This story may NOT be posted on any Internet web site without express written permission. Contact May be circulated, distributed or transmitted for non-profit purposes only.

February 3, 2006 0400 PST (FTW)[With subscribers in more than 40 countries, FTW is in a unique position to provide our readers with snapshots of the ways in which unfolding Peak Oil is impacting daily life around the world. Here, with permission, FTW brings you a series of nine short dispatches sent between October and January from one of our subscribers in Japan. They tell an amazing story. Rick has asked that we not identify him by full name.

If you are an FTW subscriber outside of the US and want to report what’s going on where you live, please send short emails like this to If we use your reports FTW will automatically extend your subscription by one year. There’s a lot of understanding and insight out there. Let’s make use of these eyes and ears. Tell us and the world what’s happening where you live. – MCR]

October 9 – Subject: Upbeat News from Japan

Boy, talk about upbeat!

This morning's paper carries an article from Kyodo (one of Japan's major news agencies) bearing the good news that there is plenty of oil.

Starting with the highly misleading headline "There Are 280 Years' Worth of Oil," the first paragraph kicks off with a sentence citing a British Petroleum claim that including confirmed reserves and the promise of oil fields yet to be discovered, we can continue production at the current level for another 40 years.

Also highly misleading is that it pooh-poohs Peak Oil by saying that "oil will not run out for the time being," thereby implying that Peak Oil advocates are claiming that oil will "run out."

A double-sided graph (showing reserves on one side and the possible years of production on the other) indicates that Canada has reserves of close to 200,000,000,000 bbl, and can keep producing for 200 years. Wow! The text mentions oil sand as one of the resources that are lengthening possible production to 280 years. There is not a word about the expense and difficulty of extracting and refining oil sand or oil shale.

Typical of such articles, this doesn't take into account that modern economies are dependent on CHEAP and PLENTIFUL supplies of fossil fuels.

This article seems more like government propaganda than serious analysis.

November 9 -- Subject: News from Japan -- price of kerosene

Great job you are doing, Mike! Hope your move goes well. You will find that country living is much more healthful, especially if you walk and garden, as I do.

A big topic here right now is the price of kerosene because that is what almost everyone uses for space heating in this country. Yesterday a major news item concerned a visit to government offices in Tokyo by representatives of kerosene distributors. They said that something has to be done to hold down the price of kerosene, at least for people in the Northeast (the northern part of Honshu) and Hokkaido. In the news stories I heard, no mention was made of government subsidies, but I would guess that is what they desire.

The media were interviewing members of the general public, who expressed grave concerns about how they are going to stay warm this winter. A good thing to keep in mind is that unlike extravagant Americans, the Japanese do not have central heating. People heat only the rooms they are using, and only when someone is there (portable space heaters are the rule). No space heating is used at night -- we just pile on the blankets and quilts. As such, the amount of fuel used for space heating is far smaller than that used by Americans.

I purchase kerosene at the agricultural coop, where members get a substantial discount, and the price is now 100 yen per liter.

If you're wondering if I have a wood stove, the answer is yes.

December 22 -- Subject: Price of kerosene in Japan

Cold wave in Japan has resulted in still higher prices for kerosene. The price of an 18-liter tank (a common unit of sale to consumers) just went up another 10 yen to reach a nationwide average of 1,263 yen, the highest price ever. Many consumers are now reportedly restructuring their household spending to afford even the comparatively modest Japanese home heating needs.

A news site in Iwate (part of northern Honshu) reports that schools are faced with kerosene heating bills that are 20% higher than last year (Japanese schools heat only their classrooms when in use, not the whole building). To cope, schools are lowering classroom temperature and telling students to dress more warmly.

December 29 -- Subject: Price of kerosene in Japan jumps again

Today's news item: The price of kerosene has again risen. According to the Oil Information Center (<>), the national average has jumped 17 yen per 18-liter tank and now stands at 1,280 yen. Oil companies say they plan to keep up with demand (we're having a continuing cold wave) by raising kerosene production and by importing some kerosene. This is the highest price ever since 1980, when the Center began tracking prices.

I asked the agricultural coop guy about rationing, but he said they had heard nothing about that.

Other announced national averages for fuel are:

Regular gasoline 128.9 yen/liter (approximately $4.28/gallon)
Premium gasoline 140 yen/liter (approximately $4.79/gallon)
Diesel fuel 105.7 yen/liter (approximately $3.60/gallon)

January 12 -- It keeps going up. The latest average national price, as of yesterday (it changes very quickly now), is 1,357 yen for an 18-liter tank. It is predicted to reach 1,400 yen soon. This made the price of kerosene front-page news in today's newspaper.

Still no mention of rationing, which I imagine the government wants to avoid at all costs.

January 18 – Again this week the retail price of kerosene has gone up, a 32-yen increase over the previous week, reaching a national average of 1,368 yen for an 18-liter tank. The price has risen for six weeks in a row. Oil companies cite the higher price of crude, which has raised their cost of producing kerosene by about 2 yen per liter.

Gasoline and diesel fuel prices are holding steady.

January 25 – The price of Kerosene has just gone up again, and according to a radio report I heard today, economists are now predicting – because the long-range weather forecast says February will also be cold, and because of higher crude prices -- that it will climb above 1,400 yen before the winter is over.

January 26 – Japanese oil company Idemitsu announced that on Feb. 1 it will jack up the wholesale price of kerosene by 4 yen/liter, and those of gasoline and diesel fuel by 2.4 yen/liter. Reasons cited are the January $4.2/bbl rise in crude from the Middle East, and that to meet the huge demand for kerosene it has imported 200,000 kiloliters of the fuel from South Korea and Taiwan. According to the report, this is the first time that Idemitsu has raised the wholesale prices of different fuels by different amounts.

(in Japanese)

January 30 --The Jan. 30 issue of the magazine _Nikkei Business_ has a special feature on the coming food crisis. It is titled: Imminent but unnoticed danger of global food shortage: Well-fed Japanese are unprepared for the crisis

I have not yet obtained the magazine, so I don't know if oil is cited as a factor. I'll see if I can check it out.

The magazine is a publication of Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the Japanese equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, and is not given to publishing sensationalism.

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