The Olympics are currently in full swing in Tokyo, so Japan is in the media spotlight. But there are no gold medals for Japanese banks when it comes to fossil fuel financing.
Japan’s banks are among the worst in the world when it comes to funding the climate crisis. Two huge banks – MUFG and Olympic sponsor Mizuho – are in the global top 10 of polluting funders, alongside other big names like Barclays, Royal Bank of Canada and JP Morgan Chase. Not only that, they’re the biggest fossil funders in Asia – even China’s banks don’t come close.
MUFG and Mizuho have pumped $148 billion and $124 billion respectively into oil, coal and gas since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. With the exception of 2020 which saw financing drop across the board due to the pandemic, these banks increased their financing year-on-year since then, despite international agreements to keep global temperature increases below 1.5ºC.
Both are heavily involved in some of the most destructive energy industries out there. They’re bankrolling companies trying to get at even more oil and gas, such as those involved in devastating the Arctic, tar sands oil and fracking.
Both banks also have largely non-existent policies on financing companies or projects linked to fossil fuels. Those they do have are weak and insubstantial. When the influential International Energy Agency has said there can be no expansion of fossil fuel industries, MUFG and Mizuho are clinging to an economic model that is threatening our future survival.
With the UN climate conference – COP26 – being held in just a few months, Japan has the opportunity to become a climate leader. One of the best ways to do that is for MUFG and Mizuho to end fossil fuel financing and lead the world in investment in clean energy instead.