Politics & Security
[Speaking Out] Don't Let China Encroach on Japanese Land in the Name of Renewable Energy
Allowing China to control key infrastructure is equivalent to conceding outposts for an "unarmed invasion" when relations get strained.
Shanghai Electric Power Co is virtually controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, the sole ruling party of China. And it has won licenses for three wind power generation projects in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan. In March, I visited Mutsu City to see two of the three sites.
One site is an open space neighboring an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the city's Sekine district. Local residents were unaware that Shanghai Electric Power had obtained the license for the wind power project there. This may be because the land is owned by a Japanese citizen (according to the registry). Also, the license for the project was given not to Shanghai Electric Power itself but to a limited liability company called SMW Tohoku.
The other site is 10 minutes away by car from the Ominato air base of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The same limited liability company has obtained a license for wind power generation. This site is also owned by a Japanese citizen. Again, neither the fisheries cooperative nor the lumber shop close to the site were aware of Shanghai Electric Power's undertaking of the project.
Shanghai Electric Power Site Neighboring a Nuclear Facility
SMW Tohoku is based in a Shanghai Electric Power office located in Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. A Chinese person named S applied for licenses for the wind power projects. In fact, Shanghai Electric Power has used the names of other limited liability and stock companies to get licenses for solar photovoltaics projects in Hyogo, Tochigi, Osaka, Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Yamaguchi prefectures, as well as the wind farm projects in Aomori Prefecture.
The two projects in Mutsu City represent cases in which Shanghai Electric Power has obtained the right to use strategically important land in the good name of green power.
Furthermore, any sites within 1 km (0.6 miles) from nuclear-related facilities or Self-Defense Forces bases are supposed to be subject to a land act. This law restricts the use of land surrounding important facilities. The wind power generation project site in Mutsu City is on the opposite side of a road from the interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. Therefore, it should clearly be subject to the act.
But can the site be regulated by the act? Regrettably, an official of the Cabinet Office in charge of the act said, "Transactions or the use of such land cannot be regulated unless harmful acts are committed." The construction of wind and mega-solar power generation may fail to fall under harmful acts.
What is the purpose of the act, then? Japan allows even an adversarial country to use Japanese land under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on the ground that international treaties override domestic laws. This virtually means that the Japanese government has abandoned the will to protect the assets and lives of its people.
Japan's Key Infrastructure
Depending on foreign companies for key infrastructure is dangerous. First of all, any company controlled by the Chinese Communist Party should be excluded from renewable energy projects in Japan. From the viewpoint of territorial integrity, allowing an adversarial country to control islands, water sources, energy facilities, or other infrastructure amounts to tolerating such a country to get outposts for "unarmed invasion" when relations are strained.
Electricity and water represent a foundation of national power. Therefore, depending on foreign companies for domestic infrastructure weakens national power. Additionally, Japan has nuclear and fossil fuel power generation technologies that can provide electricity stably at reasonable prices. And yet, it has introduced Chinese windmills and solar panels.
Moreover, renewable energy power generation is vulnerable to unfavorable weather conditions and is less efficient.
Many workers at nuclear power generation facilities in Aomori have been working hard toward resuming operations. This is despite an uncertain future caused by the delayed screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority since the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Nuclear energy technologies which Japan boasts are still available. Is the government willing to allow China to encroach on Japanese land under a green policy that prioritizes globalism over the national economy? Political power is required now to prevent such a situation.
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(A version of this article was first published by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, Speaking Out #1031 in Japanese on April 10 and in English on April 12, 2023.)
Author: Koko Kato
Koko Kato is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals. She formerly served as Special Adviser to the Cabinet.
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