In our Short-Term Energy Outlook, we forecast the lowest annual petroleum consumption in Japan in 2024 since at least 1980, in part due to its aging and declining population. Japan’s reduced consumption is already affecting its refining industry.

Japanese refiner ENEOS permanently closed a 120,000-barrel-per-day (b/d) refinery in western Japan in mid-October 2023, and another company, Idemitsu Kosan, plans to close a 120,000-b/d refinery in March 2024. These closures represent 7% of the country’s refinery capacity.

We forecast consumption of petroleum products in Japan will decline by 3% between 2023 and 2024 to 3.3 million b/d. Japan’s petroleum consumption declined by an average 2% per year through 2022 from its peak of 5.7 million b/d in 1996, largely because of demographic and economic changes. The oil intensity of Japan’s economy, measured as barrels of oil consumed per $1,000 of gross domestic product, has been declining.

Japan’s population peaked in 2009, and the country has seen some of the slowest economic growth among OECD countries since then. In addition, the share of Japan’s population aged 65 and older was 30% as of 2022, compared with 21% in […]

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