Australian resources power Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Company

Kyushu Electric Power Company (Kyushu Electric) is Japan’s fourth largest power company by sales volume. The investment of Japanese energy companies such as Kyushu Electric in Australian coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) has helped create communities, support employees and generate billions of dollars in export income for Australia.

Contributing to Japan’s energy security

Kyushu Electric was established in 1951 in Kyushu, the most south-westerly of Japan’s four main islands. It began purchasing large quantities of Australian coal in the 1980s. The decline of Japan’s domestic coal mining industry in the 1990s sent coal imports from Australia soaring.

To this day, Kyushu Electric continues to be a major purchaser of Australian coal. In fact, with its commissioning of its new pressurised fluidised bed coal-fired power station in Karita in Fukuoka Prefecture, the purchase of Australian coal has increased in recent times.

Kyushu Electric remains Australia’s largest single customer in Kyushu and it purchases more than 30 per cent of its LNG and 70 per cent of its coal requirements from Australia, representing around A$1 billion in annual export revenue to Australia.

LNG ventures

Japanese companies have played a significant role in several LNG projects in Australia. The North West Shelf LNG project was formed in 1989 under long-term purchase contracts, including one by Kyushu Electric.

The Japanese electricity provider has also invested in the Wheatstone LNG project in Western Australia, taking an equity share and signing long-term LNG supply contracts with the Wheatstone and Gorgon LNG projects. The total amounts contracted run into millions of tonnes of LNG.

Kyushu Electric Australia Director Kenichi Nakano says ‘Australia is one of the most important fuel suppliers for Kyushu Electric, represented by the LNG equity participation of Wheatstone Project for the company. It is no doubt that the relationship between Australia and Kyushu Electric, including personal exchange and culture as well as energy business, will be further deepened and strengthened in the future.’

Investing in Australian communities

Kyushu Electric has had a long association with the Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre in Cowra, New South Wales. The Japanese Garden is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and is modelled on the original garden design created for Japan’s first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Located on the site of a World War II prisoner-of-war camp, in August 1944, Japanese prisoners staged a breakout, during which over 300 escaped and more than 250 were killed.

The Japanese Garden officially opened in 1979 to recognise and develop the relationship between the people of Cowra and Japan. Since then it has received many donations from Australian and Japanese organisations, including the NSW Government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which gave A$1 million in 1986 for the second stage of the garden and ongoing maintenance.

In 1978, a chance visit to Cowra’s Japanese Garden by Saburo Nagakura, founding chairman of Kyushu Electric, at the invitation of Jim Millner, Chairman of Queensland Mines, left him so impressed he wanted to assist with the garden’s upkeep.

Mr Nagakura founded the Pottery Building in the garden, donated a special Imari urn to the garden’s cultural centre, establishing the Nagakura Foundation before his death. The Foundation is now run by his son, Seiji Nagakura. Nagakura Foundation has built the Nagakura Picnic Park in the Cowra Garden and provided hundreds of cherry trees for what has now become the cherry blossom avenue, a distance of about 500 metres.

Seiji Nagakura continues to visit Cowra annually and the Nagakura Foundation continues to support the Japanese Garden and the Cowra community.

Kyushu Electric has also been the founding company of the Japan-Australia Society in Fukuoka for more than 25 years. It has provided funding and support for a wide range of community activities in Fukuoka for Australian and Japanese communities, continuing to support school visits and homestay programs in Victoria and New South Wales.