Energy Efficiency in the Japanese Transport Sector

Phillip Y. Lipscy and Lee Schipper examine energy efficiency in the Japanese transportation sector since the 1970s. Comparisons with the United States and other developed economies illustrate that Japan primarily stands out due to low activity levels and modal structure rather than modal energy intensity. On-road automobile energy intensity has shown little improvement, albeit from a low base, over the past four decades. They also consider policy measures undertaken by the Japanese government. Political arrangements in Japan after World War II made it attractive for politicians to pursue energy conservation by making transportation, particularly by automobile, expensive for the average Japanese citizen. The revenues raised from various fees and taxes on automobile transportation were redistributed to core supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. These political arrangements have come under fire in recent years, calling into question Japan's traditional approach towards transportation sector energy efficiency.