Japan’s current administration appears to be suppressing the release of official statistics regarding the rapid growth of renewable energy.
Prior to January of this year, the relevant ministry released monthly reports on renewable energy installations. After the year end elections of the pro-nuclear LDP administration, the monthly reports began to be delayed.
The February report was released months late in May, and the critical fiscal year end March report has yet to be released as of this writing in Mid August.
Industry and government insiders, researchers, and renewable energy activists that I spoke with believe the pro-nuclear Abe administration is trying to hide the massive growth of renewables in an attempt to manipulate public opinion. An uninformed public would be more likely to accept the government’s desire to restart nuclear plants.
I’ve personally called the ministry a number of times over the past several months and gotten no clear response as to why the reports are being delayed. A journalist friend contacted the ministry in mid-July and was told the report would be released by “month’s end” however the reports are still not released.
In context, the apparent suppression of the renewable energy reports coincides with suppression of the large releases of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean by Japan prior to the recent national election. Furthermore, after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Japan’s freedom of the press has declined dramatically according to Reporters Without Borders.
In my humble opinion, if the Abe administration is truly interested in growing the economy and improving security in Japan, ham-handed attempts at information suppression are highly counter productive. Transparency and accuracy are critical components for Japan’s recovery.
The most recent METI statistics are available here (February 2013, 3 PDF files linked, Japanese).
Journalists and others who are interested can contact the section that prepares the reports directly by telephone to inquire as to the reasons for the delays:
Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI)
Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
Energy Efficiency and New Energy Division
Renewable Energy Promotion Department
Manager: Keisuke Murakami
Other contacts: Yasuda and Nakagawa
Tel: 03-3580-3023 (direct)