At the End of a Floating Pipeline

An energy-poor country squeezes the most out of every drop of oil

Japan is the terminus for a floating pipeline, a long convoy of supertankers that stretches 6,500 miles from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Malacca, into the South China Sea and finally to Japanese ports. From those tankers and others pour 99.8% of the country's oil and 70% of its total energy needs. Japan also imports 90.7% of its natural gas and 81.8% of its coal. The whole edifice of Japanese prosperity is built on those foreign energy sources.

As a result of that dependence, Japan is the wheeler-dealer of...

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