The following letter has been endorsed by over 40 organizations including several members of the Fossil Free Japan coalition.
To: Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Minister Koichi Hagiuda (METI), and the leaders of GPIF, JBIC, JOGMEC, NEXI, METI, Mitsui & Co., Mitsubishi Co., Marubeni, Itochu, JAPEX, INPEX, SMBC, Mizuho and MUFG:
Japan must cut ties with Russian fossil fuels and
stop financing fossil fuels globally
We are deeply concerned that Japan’s support for fossil fuels is indirectly financing Putin’s war against Ukraine. Japanese-financed fossil fuel projects in Russia have also caused widespread environmental destruction and violated human rights. Therefore, we call on Japan to divest from Russian coal, oil and gas projects and investments and urge other governments to divest and refrain from buying and investing in Russian fossil fuels.
Russia’s economy is largely funded on fossil fuel exports, with 36% of Russia’s total budget coming from oil and gas sales. In other words, Putin can run his war only due to his reliance on fossil fuel exports to countries like Japan.
Japanese public and private institutions are deeply entrenched in Russian coal, oil and gas. From 2018 to 2020, Japanese public finance institutions – namely, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and Nippon Export Investment Insurance (NEXI) – provided $4.8 billion for fossil fuel projects in Russia, including Arctic LNG 2.1 This makes Japan the largest provider of public finance for fossil fuel projects in Russia among the G20. We urge JBIC, JOGMEC and NEXI to halt all finance for fossil fuel projects in Russia.
The Japanese government, Itochu, JAPEX, Marubeni and INPEX are part of a Japanese consortium that holds a 30% stake in the Sakhalin 1 oil and gas project. Japanese corporations Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corporation also have major stakes in the sister Sakhalin 2 project, which includes onshore and offshore LNG export facilities and pipelines. Investors and financiers of Sakhalin 1 and 2 (JBIC, NEXI, SMBC, MUFG, Mizuho) did not withdraw from the projects earlier, despite concerns from local community and international CSOs about adverse impacts on biodiversity, including endangered species, and livelihoods of local indigenous peoples. The ensuing environmental destruction and human rights violations have been neglected for decades.
While major energy companies throughout the world are withdrawing from Russian LNG, Japanese corporations have remained noticeably silent. Earlier this month, ExxonMobil announced it would exit Russian oil and gas operations, including Sakhalin 1. Shell also announced it would exit all oil and gas projects involved with Russian gas giant Gazprom, including Sakhalin 2. However, Japanese corporations have held onto their stakes in the Sakhalin projects. These companies’ corporate reputations will be permanently tarnished if they don’t divest from Russian oil and gas projects.
The Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) also has a huge stake in Russian oil and gas. GPIF held about $1.9 billion in Russian-linked assets as of last year. GPIF is the 8th largest investor in Gazprom and Tatneft, and is the 16th largest investor in Rosneft and Lukoil, according to Bloomberg. GPIF also holds significant stakes in Mitsui and Mitsubishi. As the largest public fund investor in Japan and the largest pool of retirement savings globally, GPIF has an obligation to divest from Russian oil and gas companies, and to pressure Japanese corporations to divest from Russian fossil fuel projects.
Thus, we urge Japan to immediately cease all imports of Russian fossil fuels and divest from Russian fossil fuel projects. We especially urge Japanese corporations and investors such as GPIF, SMBC, MUFG and Mizuho to divest from Russian oil and gas projects and companies.
Beyond Ukraine, fossil fuel extraction is fueling conflicts globally and is driving the climate crisis. Gas consists primarily of methane, which is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Methane is leaked along the entire gas supply chain and has reached record levels in the atmosphere. Relying on imported fossil fuels like gas is also risky, as it exposes countries to geopolitical conflicts as well as volatile fuel prices, which are often borne by domestic consumers and taxpayers. In this vein, we urge Japan to halt financing of fossil fuel expansion globally, begin an urgent government-led managed decline of fossil fuels, and shift investments to renewable energy to ensure Japan’s future energy security and help realize a more peaceful and sustainable future.
We request your response to this letter by March 23, 2022. Please send your response to Susanne Wong at email@example.com.
With kind regards,
Asian Peoples Movement on Debt & Development, Asia
Climate Action Network Australia, Australia
Friends of the Earth Australia , Australia
Equitable Cambodia, Cambodia
Fundacion Chile Sustentable, Chile
Blue Dalian, China
Scholar Tree Alliance, China
China Environmental Paper Network , China
Re-set: Platform for Social-Ecological Transformation, Czech Republic
Reclaim Finance, France
AbibiNsroma Foundation , Ghana
Centre for Financial Accountability, India
Environics Trust, India
350.org Japan, Japan
Friends of the Earth Japan, Japan
Kiko Network, Japan
Network Against Japan Arms Trade, Japan
Protect Our Winters Japan, Japan
350 Pilipinas, Philippines
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, Philippines
Solutions For Our Climate, South Korea
Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Coal Action Network, United Kingdom
Biofuelwatch, United Kingdom / United States
1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations, United States
350.org, United States
Atmos Financial, United States
Center for International Environmental Law, United States
Connecticut Citizen Action Group, United States
Friends of the Earth U.S., United States
Mighty Earth, United States
New Mexico Climate Justice , United States
Oil & Gas Action Network, United States
Oil Change International, United States
Rainforest Action Network, United States
Texas Campaign for the Environment, United States
350.org Asia, International
Big Shift Global, International
EKOenergy Ecolabel, International
The Sunrise Project, International
1 Shift the Subsidies database, Oil Change International.