Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

More Weapons than Windmills: Japan’s Military and Energy Policy Response to Russia’s Attack on Ukraine


Russia’s attack on Ukraine was a shock to both the international security architecture and global energy markets. This article examines Japan’s response to these shocks. It finds that the Ukraine War spurred dramatic policy changes in Japan’s defense policy, but only moderate ones in its energy policy. The war has so far had a particularly weak impact on Japan’s green transition despite the potential renewable energy has for Japanese energy security. We argue that the main reason for the discrepancy between Japan’s responses in the defense field and energy field is found in its increasingly strong tendency to securitize “the China threat”. Strengthening Japan’s defense policy as a response to Russia’s aggression is seen by Japanese policymakers as compatible with counterbalancing China. However, a full-blown transition to renewable energy is not, due to the Japanese fear of becoming further trade-dependent on China, which dominates renewable energy markets.


Japan, energy, climate, russia

Discussion Article (PDF)

Author Biography

Ulv Hanssen

Ulv Hanssen is an associate professor at Soka University's Faculty of Law. His research focuses on Japan's security policy and international relations, as well as North Korea-related developments. He is the author of Temporal Identities and Security Policy in Postwar Japan (Routledge, 2020). 

Florentine Koppenborg

Florentine Koppenborg is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Public Policy (Hochschule für Politik, HfP) at the Technical University of Munich. Her research interests are within the area of energy and climate policy, particularly energy transitions (“Energiewende”) and interactions with climate policy. She has authored a book on Japan’s Nuclear Disaster and the Politics of Safety Governance (Cornell University Press, 2023) as well as several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on Japan’s nuclear energy and climate policy.