A close friend of mine, Nobuo Tanaka, is the Executive Director-elect of the International Energy Agency. I didn’t know much about the agency until I flipped through its website and found quite a number of useful resources on global energy use and climate change related data.
I’ll be meeting him tonight for dinner in Washington and will pass on what I learn about the agency’s role on the energy/climate change policy front. Perhaps others want to post comments on what they know of the IEA and its international role.
For those who follow internal politics of the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry in Japan, Nobuo Tanaka’s ascendancy to this position — even though it is outside the Japanese government — is a clear win for the modernist/reformist faction inside METI, which had lost many of its champions. There are still serious struggles inside the Ministry over both the broad policy questions of economic reform in Japan as well as reform of the bureaucracy they work in. Tanaka is one of the few willing to stir things up and to shake up the internal dynamics at METI.
When at the METI think tank, the Research Institute of Economy Trade and Industry, Tanaka borrowed not only the “brown bag lunch” format of meetings I was hosting at the New America Foundation — and was an early fan of our institution — but he brought the “free-wheeling style” of these BBLs to Tokyo. When he departed for the OECD, however, the anti-reform METI “habatsu” (faction) undermined the program by adding layers of protocol and political correctness to the environment. The seminars are still going on, but the conservatization of topics and style has pretty much stifled them.
He’s a very good guy. It will be interesting to see what he does at and to the International Energy Agency.
— Steve Clemons