On a recent trade and investment mission to Japan, we had just arrived at an office in Tokyo to meet with the country’s environment minister when news broke that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile at the island nation.
While that missile landed harmlessly in the sea, that brazen act left a trail of fear all too familiar to Japan, South Korea, and our other allies in Asia.
But also chilling is the thought that Japan is now utterly dependent on importing the energy it needs via shipping routes in the South China Sea – the main supply chain for Japan’s energy and one of the most contested regions on Earth – or seeing how a dictator Vladimir Putin can please of benefit from an unprovoked war by using energy against our allies in Western Europe.
As our trade and investment delegation introduced North Dakota agricultural products and energy solutions to executives from more than 150 leading Japanese companies and organizations with a combined market value well over $1 trillion, it became clear that Japan is not just eager but determined , gain energy security and food security from the United States and other allies so they can reduce their dependence on China, Russia and the Middle East.
North Dakota stands ready to play a key role in meeting those needs—if we can remove the obstacles in our way.
Take liquefied natural gas (LNG) for example: while European countries affected by Putin’s war are looking to the eastern United States as long-term suppliers of LNG, Japan is looking to the west coast of the United States. And North Dakota is poised to become a major supplier of LNG and other energy products to Japan, which was the world’s largest importer of LNG in 2019.
For global stability, our national security, and the national security of our strategic allies, we must overcome the ideological battles over fossil fuels and build the necessary infrastructure to fuel Western Europe and our North Dakota resources of oil, gas, and hydrogen (transported as ammonia ) to the west coast for export to Japan.
At the federal level, we should support—nay, insist—that this connection to the Pacific be built, rather than allowing state and federal bureaucracies to block critical new infrastructure with burdensome red tape and over-the-top regulations.
Japan is a country of 126 million people covering an area almost the size of North Dakota and South Dakota combined. Oil accounts for about 40% of Japan’s total energy supply, yet the country imports almost 100% of its oil and gas and more than 60% of its calories from food, making it a key market for North Dakota.
We should sell energy to our friends and allies instead of buying it from our opponents. Thanks to our focus on innovation rather than regulation, North Dakota is well positioned to meet our own energy needs and those of our allies, but it’s up to all of us to make it happen. Nothing less than global stability and national security – Japan’s and ours – depend on it.
Doug Burgum is the governor of North Dakota.