Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

On July 27, 2023, the Mansfield Foundation convened a roundtable called “The Future of Energy Security and Energy Transition in South Korea and Japan.” Moderated by Dr. Kent A. Calder (Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies), the event featured discourse from Jane Nakano (Center for Strategic and International Studies) and Dr. Jeanne Choi (U.S. Department of State). The dialogue revolved around the recent geopolitical implications for energy security and the trajectory of energy transition strategies for Japan and South Korea.

The discussion began with an exploration of how Japan and South Korea have navigated energy security challenges following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Geopolitical turbulence caused by the war was emphasized as serving a stark reminder to Japanese and Korean policymakers of the vulnerabilities associated with dependence on energy imports. The conversation then pivoted into the long-term energy transition strategies of Japan and South Korea, where there is interest in further investment in sources like hydrogen and nuclear power for reaching decarbonization goals.

Finally, hypothetical future energy collaboration between Japan and South Korea was explored. The discourse accentuated the current momentum for better bilateral relations, including the restoration of each other on their respective trade whitelists and the renewal of dialogue. The potential for cooperation on supply chain resilience was discussed, with particular focus on batteries, semiconductors, and critical minerals – sectors in which both nations hold strong positions globally.