23 September 2019

Alex Doukas, alex [at] priceofoil [at] org
Kimiko Hirata, khirata [at] kikonet [at] org

Activists Launch Large Inflatable Balloon of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to protest Japan’s continued support for coal

Activists deployed a 3-meter-tall balloon depicting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emerging from a bucket of coal to protest the Japanese government’s continued support for new coal-fired power projects. The action took place in the morning of September 23rd in downtown Manhattan in New York City.

Japan’s continued coal finance has drawn strong international reproach, including from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who barred Japan from speaking at his climate summit.

Japan is planning to build more coal-fired power plants than any other developed nation and is one of the world’s largest providers of public finance for coal power overseas. The Japanese government’s continuing development of new coal power plants undermines global efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and contravenes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call to stop building coal plants after 2020.

Internationally, the Japanese government spends $5 billion a year supporting coal mining and coal power production in other countries, locking in decades of carbon emissions that we cannot afford. In just the past few months, the Japanese government approved $2.5 billion in loans for the Van Phong 1 coal plant in Vietnam, which some estimate will lead to 2,970 premature deaths due to air pollution, and the Matarbari coal plant in Bangladesh.
Despite a growing global exodus from coal, four new coal-fired power plants are expected to begin operation in Japan next year with many more in the construction or planning stages.

Alex Doukas, Lead Analyst at Oil Change International, says,

“Japan is one of the only countries still using public money to finance new, polluting coal plants around the world. While other governments are declaring a climate emergency, Prime Minister Abe continues to promote coal and is taking the world in the wrong direction. The UN Secretary General has called for an end to new coal power plants after 2020, and Japan should recognize that there is more economic opportunity in the clean, renewable energy of the future than in the dirty fossil fuels of the past.”

Kimiko Hirata, International Director of Kiko Network, says,

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe comes to New York with very low ambition for climate action. Japan’s addiction to coal is fueling the climate crisis and undermining global action to address it. People around the world recognize this and will continue to lodge protests like this one until Prime Minister Abe shows political leadership on climate action by exiting from coal. UN Secretary General Guterres clearly asked all countries to commit to net zero by 2050 and stop new coal power by 2020. We need Japan to stop promoting this dirty outdated technology.

Takayoshi Yokoyama, Japan team leader, says,

“We are in a climate emergency. As youth have mobilized in record numbers across the world as part of the Global Climate Strike, we need bold, ambitious climate action from Japan to expedite the just transition to a 100% renewable energy society. For Japan to fulfill its promises under the Paris Agreement, it must immediately stop financing coal and commit to phasing out fossil fuels in line with keeping global warming below 1.5?. We also call on Japan’s biggest commercial banks – Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui, and Mizuho to live up to their commitment to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and align their business practices with the Paris Agreement by ceasing new finance for fossil fuel development.”


Notes to editors:
Photos and videos of the action will be available at
A new report from Greenpeace estimates 99 annual premature deaths from Van Phong 1, which over an average 30-year coal plant lifespan totals 2,970 premature deaths. See “A Deadly Double Standard: How Japan’s Financing of Highly Polluting Overseas Coal Plants Endangers Public Health,” August 2019.