The 2011 tsunami that devastated nuclear power plants in Fukui and Aomori prefectures caused Japan to turn to LNG imports from the U.S. and other countries to supplement its energy sources. Fuel use rose by 80 percent in 2012 from the previous year, and crude consumption rose 70 percent. Power companies used 56.6 million metric tons of LNG in 2012, up from 49.1 million tons in 2011.
Meanwhile, many of the nation’s functioning nuclear reactors sat idle, and although electric companies have announced plans to restart some of the generators in 2013, the decision to restart each plant will need approval from the nation’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.
As one of the leading exporter of LNG in the U.S., Alaska has a promising future in tapping the increased demand, the Japan Times reports.
Kojiro Abe, a trade representative for Alaska’s Japanese office told the Japan Times earlier this month, "Alaskan LNG has many advantages for Japan, starting with cost. Not only is the gas cheap, but so is transportation. It only takes about a week for the tankers to arrive in Japan.” Kojiro added, “America's political stability compared to some other LNG suppliers, and the safety of the sea lane from Alaska to Japan is a huge advantage as well."