Japan’s energy policy is at a turning point. Seven years ago, the country experienced a devastating earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The accident led to the shutdown of all 54 of Japan’s nuclear power reactors and to a revision of the country’s energy policy. Japan’s long-term energy policy will reach an important landmark if, as expected, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) finalizes the revamped national energy strategy in the coming months. At the center of deliberations and debate is the issue of how to achieve a “balanced energy mix.” This article discusses Japan’s struggle to attain this goal and how the country’s energy relations with the Middle East have evolved since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
The failed outcome of last Sunday’s summit in Doha by top oil exporters was no surprise. Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, from the outset considered it to a politically toxic event to be avoided. He did not go nor did he send a replacement. As Zangeneh put it to Iranian state television, “It [does not] make sense to send any representative from the Islamic Republic, as we are not part of the decision to freeze output.”
In this week's Monday Briefing, MEI experts Paul Salem, Herman Franssen, and Robert Ford provide analysis on recent events including Obama's Last GCC Summit, the Doha Oil Summit, and Iraq's Cabinet Change.
This essay examines China-Iran trade relations, as well as Chinese investments in Iran. Particularly, it asks whether the Chinese-Iranian stated ambition to increase the value of bilateral trade to $600 billion within a decade is attainable. Additionally, it identifies the factors responsible for the trade deficit in Iran’s favor, and shows that the pace of China’s foreign direct investment (F.D.I) in Iran is slowing in spite of absolute increases.
Since Oman and South Korea established official diplomatic ties in 1974, trade has largely defined the Muscat-Seoul relationship. Oman’s oil and liquefied natural gas (L.N.G.) and South Korea’s automobiles, electronics, and large vessels have dominated bilateral trade. Yet as Seoul stakes out increasingly vital national interests in the volatile Middle East, a host of geopolitical and security trends will more meaningfully influence the future of Omani-Korean relations.
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani warned Qataris in November that due to tumbling oil prices, the government could no longer “provide for everything.” The following month he addressed “wasteful spending, overstaffing and a lack of accountability,” sending a clear message that austerity measures were on the way.
Traditionally, South Korea’s economic relations with the Gulf states have been primarily based on energy trade and construction. The Park Geun-hye administration is keen to expand the scope and boost the value of South Korea's economic relations with the GCC countries and with Iran.