The Global Economic Slowdown Threatens the Growth of Green Jobs in Japan

The Global Economic Slowdown Threatens the Growth of Green Jobs in Japan

Climate adaptation and resilience stand out as rapidly emerging areas of employment as the effects of climate change are felt worldwide. According to the UNEP, green jobs are defined as “positions in agriculture, manufacturing, R&D, administrative, and service activities aimed at substantially preserving or restoring environmental quality”. They seek to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.

In response to the lack of space on the island nation and the high amounts of trash produced, Japan has adopted strict recycling policies that vary from region to region. The waste management industry in Japan is one of the key sectors related to green jobs. In particular, the third Fundamental Plan for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society in 2013 estimated the size of the market related to sound material-cycle society at approximately 39 trillion yen with approximately 990,000 people employed.

In addition to waste management, Japan introduced new legislation in 2017 aiming to increase its percentage of power from renewable sources from 22% to 24% Japan has consistently imported 90% of its energy from abroad, as reported by the World Nuclear Association in 2019, especially since nuclear production has been reduced drastically following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. While the new renewable energy targets are still inconsistent with the Paris Agreement, Japan is making efforts to reduce its dependence on overseas production and trigger innovation in its domestic energy sector. For instance, the Japan Wind Energy Association estimated that by 2030, 10GW of offshore wind capacity will be installed, which will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70 million tonnes, and generate up to 90,000 new jobs. According to the International Energy Agency in 2019, Japan’s wind energy capacity is currently still at 3,399MW. Japan has committed to similar targets for other energy sources like solar and tidal power.

However, the Japanese government is currently faced with other problems. According to a report published in April by the International Monetary Fund, Japan’s economy is expected to contract by 5.8% this year in a global downturn the IMF called the “worst recession since the Great Depression.” Currently, the government does not appear to be putting forward significant new policies to promote such green jobs.

Activity Rating: ** Standing Still

While the Japanese government has set forward goals to transition to a decarbonized economy, the scope and scale of green jobs and their benefits could be greatly improved.

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Alert Message:

According to the 2019 Report on the Emissions Gap published by the United Nations Organization (ONU), global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 7.6% per annum between 2020 and 2030 to reach the target of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming within 1.5 °C. This process of transitioning to a decarbonized, circular economy through the recovery from COVID-19 could drive growth and create numerous green jobs in different sectors. We urge the Japanese government to put forth more policies and remove existing barriers.

Learn More:

Brett Smith, B. (2015). Japan: Environmental Issues, Policies and Clean Technology. Retrieved 21

September 2020, from

Takahashi, R. (2020). ‘Green recovery’ offers Japan a chance to slash carbon emissions. Retrieved

21 September 2020, from


New laws and new targets: renewable power in Japan. (2020). Retrieved 21 September 2020,


Green Jobs: Towards Sustainable Work in a Low-Carbon World. (2017). Retrieved 21

September 2020, from

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Japan Country Manager Yun-Tzu Lin

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