My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Friday, May 23, 2008

Coal is making a comeback....

The markets do work...
These rugged green mountains, once home to one of Asia’s most productive coal regions, are littered with abandoned mines and decaying towns — backwaters of an economy of bullet trains and hybrid cars.

But after decades of seemingly terminal decline, Japan’s coal country is stirring again. With energy prices reaching record highs — oil settled above $135 a barrel on Thursday — Japan’s high-cost mines are suddenly competitive again, and demand for their coal is booming. Production has jumped to its highest in nearly four decades, creating a sensation rarely felt in these mining communities: hope.

“We are seeing a flicker of light after long darkness,” said Michio Sakurai, the mayor of Bibai, on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. “We never imagined coal would actually make a comeback.”

Soaring commodity prices have had distorting effects across the global economy, driving up food prices and prompting fears of future energy shortages. But they have been an unanticipated boon to the coal producing regions of countries like Japan that had written off coal mining as a relic of the Industrial Revolution.

In Bibai, once a thriving cultural center that had a ballet troupe and five cinemas showing first-run Hollywood movies in its heyday in the 1950s, the population shrank to 27,800, from 92,000. As mining jobs evaporated, they left behind rows of abandoned clapboard-fronted stores that give some neighborhoods the air of a ghost town.

While Japan’s coal industry remains tiny, its revival is an example of how higher commodity prices are driving a search for resources even in some of the world’s most urbanized and developed nations.

In recent months, South Korea has experienced calls to create a domestic coal industry in order to reduce dependence on imports. In the United Kingdom, where coal’s decline became a symbol of withered industrial might, companies are increasing production and considering reopening at least one closed mine as demand for British coal rises.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure enjoy your international insights in your blogs. Americans (Judging by a U.S. Senator's threat of nationalization of oil), Canadians, Europeans and others think the energy crisis is some sort of exploitation by the elite.

It is merely a manifestation of the need for energy and a current shortage. The shortage may be real or or a repercussion of the global warming debate.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said anonymous...!

No-one really has any idea just how much influence China is haveing on all the worlds comodoties, they and India are
huge (unbelievably) huge
markets, demand for everything
is way beyond all the pedicters and speculatores wildest dreams.

7:06 PM  

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