As the world urges energy transition towards decarbonisation, it is expected that the cities and regions dependent on fossil-fuel related industries will be greatly affected by the transition. In particular, coal phase-out gives tremendous impacts on the coal industries, workers, and local communities in the coal-producing regions.
How can those regions and communities overcome the difficulties? Such a question is nothing new but has been repeated since the last century in most former coal-producing regions after the coal mine closure. Among them, the Ruhr region in Germany is considered a successful case of deep transformation of industrial structure and referenced in the current transition movements.
On the other hand, Japan has also experienced such energy transition from coal to oil during the 1950-1960s. Despite the generous support by the national government, the coal-producing regions have faced difficulties over decades. How have they, especially the local government struggled with the so-called “coal aftereffects”? And more importantly, what lessons do their history tell us for our today’s challenge towards decarbonisation?
By looking at policy development in one of the cities in Chikuho, the former coal-producing region, I would like to share their story and insights for a just energy transition. One of the key messages is the importance of social dialogue by letting all the stakeholders discuss in the same table towards regional revitalisation.
Akiko Hiratsuka-Sasaki is a research management officer at the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO). Her research focus is on sustainability and justice issues with local lens such as just transition, sustainable waste management, and Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). She was a visiting research fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in 2019-2021 and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in 2021. Currently, she is involved in research projects in international city networks and climate justice as well as marine plastic issues in Asia.
Before joining IDE-JETRO, she has worked as a rural planning consultant for municipalities in Japan. She holds B.A. in Public Administration (International Christian University, Japan) and M.Sc in Spatial Planning (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden).
Related documents (in Japanese):
Sasaki, Akiko. (2020). 「脱石炭」がもたらすもの――地域社会・気候変動・雇用（前編）(What “coal phase-out” brings us- Local society, climate change, employment (Vol.1)), IDE Square, IDE-JETRO. https://www.ide.go.jp/Japanese/IDEsquare/Overseas/2020/ISQ202030_010.html
Sasaki, Akiko. (2020).「脱石炭」がもたらすもの――地域社会・気候変動・雇用（後編）(What “coal phase-out” brings us- Local society, climate change, employment (Vol.2)) , IDE Square, IDE-JETRO.
Online: The lecture will be conducted via Zoom. To register please follow this URL: