Japanese megabanks told to stop deceiving the public on climate action

On the occasion of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of Mizuho, MUFG, SMBC

Climate campaigners slammed three of Japan’s megabanks for deceiving the public and their shareholders into believing that they are pursuing decarbonization policies when in fact they are financing some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel projects, most of which are found in Asia.  

Activists belonging to the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development and allied communities called on  Mizuho Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (SMBC)   to “Stop The Lies and Deception!” as the three megabanks held the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders in Tokyo. Symbolic protest actions were held in Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines which are some of the countries being tapped to host major fossil gas projects financed by Japan.

“The Japanese megabanks must walk the talk when it comes to climate action. They cannot pledge to decarbonize and yet continue to finance gas projects and false energy solutions like CCUS and ammonia co-firing,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the regional alliance Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development.

“Their financing for climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects could have been spent for a direct, rapid, and just transition to renewable energy. Instead, these Japanese banks choose to prioritize their selfish, narrow corporate interests over the welfare of people and the planet.” Nacpil added.

Data from a recently released report shows that for the year 2023 alone,  Mizuho Financial funneled $5.7 billion to gas power expansion companies worldwide, making it the No. 1 financier of gas projects. On the other hand,  MUFG ($512 million) and SMBC ($281 million) ranked first and third, respectively, ​​as financiers of ultra-deepwater oil and gas extraction companies.

The same report states that the three Japanese megabanks now outrank top global banks and investment firms like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America when it comes to funding gas projects and related extraction activities. 

APMDD also took to task Mizuho, MUFG, and SMBC for rejecting their shareholders’ proposals to properly disclose and report on the progress of their transition plans to comply with the internationally agreed pathway to limit global warming to 1.5C..

Like in previous years, climate advocates belonging to more than 100 organizations are once again sending a letter to the three Japanese megabanks to pressure them to phase out fossil fuel projects in their lending portfolios.

“The support given by the three megabanks to fossil fuels is a losing proposition. Market indicators point to the fact that gas demand throughout the world is set to decline by 1% annually through 2026. Therefore, financing more facilities of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)  will not give the expected returns and will only serve to burden the shareholders,” said Sharif Jamil of Waterkeepers Alliance in Bangladesh. 

A briefing paper released by the Global Energy Monitor last December cautioned against an LNG oversupply and called investments in the sector “risky.” Asia and Europe lead in  LNG import development. The Philippines ranks  Top 4 in Asia with 21 mtpa (metric tons per year)  of LNG buildout – after China, India, and Taiwan.