Energy policy is known to have higher path dependency among policy fields (Kuper and van Soest, 2003; OECD, 2012; Kikkawa, 2013) and is a critical component of the infrastructure development undertaken in the early stages of nation building. Actor roles, such as those played by interest groups, are firmly formed, making it unlikely that institutional change can be implemented. In resource-challenged Japan, energy policy is an especially critical policy area for the Japanese government. In comparing energy policy making in Japan and Germany, Japan’s policy community is relatively firm (Hartwig et al., 2015), and it is improbable that institutional change can occur. The Japanese government’s approach to energy policy has shifted incrementally in the past half century, with the most recent being the 2012 implementation of the “Feed-In Tariff Law” (Act on Special Measures Concerning Procurement of Renewable Electric Energy by Operators of Electric Utilities), which encourages new investment in renewable electricity generation and promotes the use of renewable energy. Yet, who were the actors involved and the factors that influenced the establishment of this new law? This study attempts to assess the factors associated with implementing the law as well as the roles of the relevant major actors. In answering this question, we focus on identifying the policy networks among government, political parties, and interest groups, which suggests that success in persuading key economic groups could be a factor in promoting the law. Our data is based on the “Global Environmental Policy Network Survey 2012-2013 (GEPON2)” which was conducted immediately after the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake with respondents including political parties, the government, interest groups, and civil society organizations. Our results suggest that the Feed in Tariff (FIT) Law’s network structure is similar to the information network and support network, and that the actors at the center of the network support the FIT Law. The strength of our research lays in our focus on political networks and their contributing mechanism to the law’s implementation through analysis of the political process. From an academic perspective, identifying the key actors and factors may be significant in explaining institutional change in policy areas with high path dependency. Close examination of this issue also has implications for a society that can promote renewable and sustainable energy resources.

Okura, Sae, Tkach-Kawasaki, Leslie, Kobashi, Yohei, Hartwig, Manuela, and Tsujinaka, Yutaka
Analysis of the Policy Network for the ‘Feed-in Tariff Law’ in Japan: Evidence from the GEPON Survey
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Jan 2016
Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia