Section 5. International Problems of Resources and Energy


The world situation concerning resources and energy has taken on a very fluid form because it has reached a major turning point as a result of OPEC's petroleum policy, a rapid increase in the world's demand for energy, and the increased awareness of "an energy crisis" which stems from the prospects of an energy shortage in the United States.

OPEC member countries have been trying to emerge from their traditional status of being a mere tax collector in an effort to increase their control over the international petroleum industry by taking such measures as nationalistic policies on pricing, participation in management and nationalization. It seems that these policies are an irreversible current of history. As a result, the function of regulating the supply of petroleum to the world, hitherto performed by the international oil majors, has become gradually subjected to great restrictions. And there have been structural changes in the international supply of petroleum, and how to secure a stable supply of petroleum has become a matter of major concern to the major oil-consuming countries.

The prospects of an energy shortage in the United States has produced a strong impact on the energy and petroleum markets of the world. It is expected that imports of petroleum by the United States will rapidly increase in the future, and it has become clear that the United States, which hitherto has been an outsider in the world petroleum market, will enter the market as a giant importer. It is feared that there might develop an excessive competition between Japan and countries of the West, which are also heavily dependent on overseas petroleum, over efforts to secure petroleum.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the OPEC members' policies on resource conservation. Some of the OPEC members have already taken strong measures to conserve their resources. Some of the oil-producing countries with the greatest future potential resources do not necessarily have a strong incentive to increase production because they already have tremendous revenues from petroleum, and there is a fear that the oil-producing countries might not supply petroleum to the extent needed by the consuming countries.

Japan is poor in domestic resources and will have to import energy and petroleum resources in increasing quantities in the future. Therefore, Japan must extensively widen its scope of cooperation with the countries producing energy and petroleum on the basis of general international cooperation, within the situation where the interests of the producing countries, consuming countries and the international oil majors are intertwined in growing complexity, and promote multilateral international cooperation with the countries importing energy and petroleum, as well as to work out and carry out comprehensive measures to secure a stable supply of energy and petroleum resources over a long period of time.


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