Japan’s Kiko Network: a new ally in opposition to an Oakland coal terminal

  • Kiko Network action against JERA's planned coal-fired facilities in Yokosuka, Japan

No Coal in Oakland has recently begun working with Japan’s Kiko Network, following discovery earlier this year that Insight Terminal Solutions (ITS) was pursuing a commitment from Japan’s largest energy company, JERA, to purchase 4 million tons of Utah coal per year. ITS, as we learned from the company’s bankruptcy court filings, is also pursuing financing from a Japanese bank, SMBC, for construction of a coal terminal in Oakland through which coal would be shipped to Japan. The Kiko Network introduced NCIO to its community last month, in an article published in English and Japanese. We are introducing Kiko Network to our community through this article that they have written for us.

Kiko Network is a Japanese non-governmental, non-profit organization working to tackle climate change with initiatives on the local, national, and international levels. A primary focus of Kiko Network’s activities is on hastening Japan’s transition to renewable energy by preventing the expansion of coal power, the largest source of Japan’s CO2 emissions.

In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, Japan made plans to construct a number of new coal-fired power plants throughout the country and has included coal as a major source of its baseload electricity. While governments, financial institutions, and corporations around the world are beginning to move away from coal, Japan continues to promote the utilization of coal power, leading the expansion of coal power throughout Asia while remaining the world’s third largest importer of coal.

In recent years, Kiko Network has been focusing on stopping new coal-fired power projects, including new projects by JERA, Japan’s leading thermal power generation company. JERA has maintained coal-fired power generation as an important part of its business strategy and domestic energy policy, and has also supported the construction of controversial coal-fired power plants overseas.

One of the key projects targeted in Kiko Network’s activities is the construction of two new coal-fired generating units at JERA’s Yokosuka thermal power plant. This includes assisting residents of Tokyo Bay in running local campaigns and proceeding with their litigation against the project. 

Additionally, Kiko Network has been pressuring JERA to cancel the construction of their other planned coal-fired power projects in Japan, such as the Taketoyo thermal power plant in Aichi Prefecture, which has already begun construction. 

Kiko Network’s actions also include putting pressure on megabanks and financial institutions to end their financing for coal. In March 2020, Kiko Network filed the first ever climate-based shareholder resolution to a Japanese publicly-traded company, calling for Mizuho Financial Group to disclose its climate risks and publish a plan to ensure its investments align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. After its submission, some of Mizuho’s shareholders expressed support for the resolution. In April 2020, Mizuho announced that it would strengthen its coal finance policy, and Kiko Network continues to push Mizuho to ensure their investments are aligned with the Paris goals.

Kiko Network is working to achieve the same goals as No Coal in Oakland, and we fully support their activities. JERA and SMBC should decline to finance construction of a coal terminal in Oakland, and cancel any commitments or plans to purchase coal shipped from the proposed Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal. 

Kiko Network is looking forward to working together in the endeavor to make our communities safer by ending the usage of coal power, and we are happy to seek opportunities for collaboration in stopping coal exports and imports from both sides. 

For more information on Kiko Network and their activities in Japan and abroad, please visit their homepage.