Political Economy of Low Sulfurization and Air Pollution Control Policy in Japan: SOx Emission Reduction by Fuel Conversion

Discussion Papers


by TERAO Tadayoshi

March 2013


In the early stages of the development of Japan’s environmental policy, sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions, which seriously damage health, was the most important air pollution problem. In the second half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, the measures against SOx emissions progressed quickly, and these emissions were reduced drastically. The most important factor of the reduction was the conversion to a low-sulfur fuel for large-scale fuel users, such as the electric power industry. However, industries started conversion to low-sulfur fuel not due to environmental concerns, but simply to reduce costs. Furthermore, the interaction among the various interests of the electric power industry, oil refineries, the central government, local governments, and citizens over the energy and environmental policies led to the measures against SOx emissions by fuel conversion.

Keywords: environmental policy, air pollution, low sulfurization, crude oil combustion
JEL classification: Q28, O13, N55

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