|Conflict over Natural Resources in South-East Asia and the Pacific (UNU, 1990, 256 pages)|
|3. The Japanese economy and South-East Asia: the examples of the Asahan aluminium and Kawasaki Steel Projects|
During the 1980s, the Japanese government began to talk about the establishment of a 'Comprehensive Security System'. Because of the collapse of Pax-Americana, the Japan-US Security System backed by the American nuclear umbrella has become inadequate for Japanese defence purposes, and it has become necessary to establish an enhanced economic security system based on strengthening Japan's military capabilities. The economic security system is in fact a strategy to secure stable supplies of industrial raw materials, as specified in the Pacific Basin Cooperation concept, to which energy resources and food have been added as strategic items. How does Japan intend to secure a stable supply of food and energy resources from abroad?
Securing Energy and Food Supplies
The Japanese government argues that the existence of OPEC, the powerful producers' cartel, not only results in higher oil prices but also limits supply. It stresses that since Japan depends almost entirely on oil as its primary energy source, and since 70 per cent of all crude oil is imported from the Gulf area, Japan's oil supply is very vulnerable to changes in the world political situation. In the petrochemical sector, a series of overseas investment projects are now underway; and in the electric-power industry, the largest oilconsuming sector, the government is encouraging a switch from oil to alternative energy resources such as nuclear power, coal, and LNG. According to the government plan, nuclear power generation will account for 35 per cent of the total primary energy supply in the 1990s; LNG will be used to fuel thermal power stations in place of oil; and the 'develop-and-import' formula for energy resources will serve Japanese energy needs into the 1990s
Japan has been almost completely dependent on imports from the United States for wheat, soybean, and maize-staple foods for the Japanese people and fodder for their livestock. Japan is currently making an effort to switch the source of these foods from the United States to Japanese-con/rolled develop-and-import projects in Brazil, Indonesia, and other developing countries. For example, a Japanese consortium has launched a one million ha fodder plantation project at Cerrado in Minas Gerais state, Brazil, under the develop-and-import programme. In connection with the Cerrado project, an ambitious infrastructural development programme has been planned, which includes developing a grain export corridor linking the inland Minas Gerais to a port of shipment on the Atlantic coast via a trunk road; constructing grain elevators with silos and harbour facilities, and developing an 'Asian Port', which will store fodder from Brazil temporarily or be used for livestock-raising in a bonded area of the port. The ultimate country of destination for these products is, of course, Japan.
The 'comprehensive security system' is comprehensive because it combines Japanese military strength with an economic security system designed to secure a stable supply of industrial raw materials, energy resources, and food. The present security system also aims at achieving its objective by integrating the overseas investment structure of Japanese enterprises into a totally Japan centred system. However, this strategy will inevitably make Japan richer and drive poor Asian nations further into poverty and marginalization, reintegrating them as dependent economies into 'Japan, Inc.'.
Clearly, Japan's much-vaunted 'stable growth' is maintained only through the export of stagnant industries to the Third World and a tightening grip on raw material resources abroad. Its reckless export drives cause increasing friction with other advanced industrial countries, and it seems that 'stable growth' is also to be achieved on the backs of the Japanese people. Thus, Japan seems headed towards crisis.