Containers stacked at Osaka. Creative Commons photo by Flickr user _Dorothy_.


ENERGY (source: CIA World Factbook, 2010)

Production: (2008 estimate): 133,100 barrels/day
Consumption (2008 estimate): 4.785 million barrels/day (world rank: 4th)
Imports: (2008 estimate): 5.263 million barrels/day (world rank: 3rd)
Reserves: (2009 estimate) 44.12 million barrels

Natural Gas:
Production: (2008 estimate): 5.36 billion cu. m.
Consumption: (2008 estimate): 101.1 billion cu. m. (world rank: 5th)
Imports (2008 estimate): 95.39 billion cu. m.
Reserves: (2009 estimate): 20.9 billion cu. m.

(Notes: Japan has 11 days’ worth of oil before things start grinding to a halt, but could last more than two months–or the better part of a winter–on natural gas reserves. Of course, both could be extended with rationing.)

TRADE (source: CIA World Factbook, 2010)
$516.3 billion (2009)
$746.5 billion (2008)

Commodities: transport equipment, motor vehicles, semiconductors, electrical machinery, chemicals

$490.6 billion (2009 est.)
$708.3 billion (2008

Commodities: machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, raw minerals

Import Partners:
China 18.8%, US 10.4%, Saudi Arabia 6.7%, Australia 6.2%, UAE 6.1%, Indonesia 4.3% (2008)

(Note: U.S. and China for food imports, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Indonesia for energy, Australia for raw minerals, and coal.)

FOOD (source: Japan Times)

On a 2,000 calorie per person basis, percentage of food imported: 61%

Specific foods, Imports:
Rice, eggs, mandarin oranges: 10%
Cooking oil: 87%
Soybeans: 95%

(Notes: 2,000 calories per day isn’t bad, but it doesn’t leave much room for ice cream for dessert. And if you were to stop the flow of imported foods and rely soley on domestic food production, things look downright scary. Goodbye tofu.)


Japan is a country with relatively little arable land for growing crops, practically no energy reserves, and little to no raw materials. That it’s been able to propel itself to the #2 economy in the world is an astounding achievement. But, as the numbers above show, the entire economy and the well-being of the people are completely dependent on freedom of air and sea transportation to and from Japan.

GD Star Rating

Related posts:

A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 591 post(s) on Japan Security Watch