Climate Change is not Expected to be a Priority Political Issue in Upcoming Elections in Japan

Unlike nations with a presidential system, Japan employs a parliamentary system where the populace does not directly elect the Prime Minister. Instead, the Prime Minister is selected through elections for the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. Currently, no elections for either house are scheduled for 2024. However, due to political funding issues that surfaced within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) last year, there’s a possibility of a House of Representatives election occurring within the year.

Even if a House of Representatives election were to take place in 2024, it seems unlikely that climate change would emerge as a central issue. In the 2022 House of Councillors election, climate change was not prioritized, with economic policies, employment, measures against declining birthrates, and social security and pensions taking precedence. The dominant LDP has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, a goal shared by other major parties. While these parties may occasionally propose slightly more aggressive climate policies than the LDP, there is little overall difference.

The reasons why climate change is not a prominent issue in Japanese elections include the absence of strong political leadership advocating for bold climate action. This lack of advocacy prevents the elevation of global awareness and a sense of urgency about this issue within domestic political discourse. Unlike in other countries, there’s an absence of public debate criticizing aggressive climate policies for potentially hindering economic growth and competitiveness. National concerns tend to focus more on short-term economic stability, social welfare, and healthcare, leaving long-term issues like climate change in the shadows.

In January 2024, a significant earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula, reigniting national interest in the debate over nuclear power. This issue has been of high concern since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. However, the discussion tends to focus narrowly on nuclear energy and its safety without engaging in broader debates about energy policy or climate change strategies, such as the continued high reliance on fossil fuel-based power generation compared to other leading nations.

Unless there is a significant shift in public opinion, media coverage, or political leadership, it is unlikely that climate change will dominate the political agenda in Japan’s 2024 elections, despite recent natural disasters and the ongoing global environmental crisis. However, the outcome of these elections could significantly influence the future direction of Japan’s climate policy. This situation reflects a broader challenge of integrating environmental concerns into immediate political priorities, particularly in a country with deeply entrenched economic and industrial interests that may view aggressive climate action as a potential threat to growth and stability.

This Post was submitted by the Climate Scorecard Japan Country Manager Takeda Kazuya.


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