Japan doubles ethanol imports

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Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Ethanol biofuel has taken the United States by storm with subsidies, and now it looks like Japan is also keen to embrace this primarily corn-based fuel by pledging to the U.S. government to increase its demand for ethanol.

When US President Joe Biden visited Japan last month, the joint statement included Tokyo’s pledge to double imports of ethanol from the United States by 2030, using it as fuel for the land and air transport.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel personally celebrated this development by declaring on Twitter: “More US corn, less Russian oil and better for the environment, a win all round. Another notch in the belt for closer US-Japan relations.

Additionally, the US Grains Council, a trade association that promotes exports, publicly thanked Emanuel for his efforts to communicate the benefits of biofuel to the Japanese government, and noted that Japan was already ranked “as the fourth largest market in export for US coarse grains, co-products, ethanol and meat products.

Ethanol is being promoted by the US Grains Council and others as a way for countries to meet carbon reduction targets while providing consumers with an efficient fuel. The US Renewable Fuel Standard program states that “a certain amount of renewable fuel [can] replacing or reducing the amount of transportation fuel based on petroleum, fuel oil or jet fuel.

While U.S. farmers and trade groups have celebrated the promotion of biofuels, concerns about energy security and carbon neutrality are also key considerations.

On the other hand, like the wood pellet biofuels that the Japanese government likes, ethanol faces agriculture and land use challenges. The production of ethanol itself creates a considerable amount of carbon dioxide emissions.

Tokyo, however, believes that ethanol imports from the United States could be helpful in meeting its national carbon reduction targets.

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