Sen. Duckworth, Ambassador Emanuel, and IL Corn Fuel Big Strides in Japan’s Ethanol Market

Mar 02, 2023  |  Today's News |  ICMB |  Ethanol |  Exports

TOKYO, Japan --  Last week, IL Corn leaders joined Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, in coordination with the U.S. Grains Council to celebrate a critical win in ongoing efforts to achieve 100 percent access to the Japanese fuel ethanol market for US ethanol.


In 2018, US ethanol entered the Japanese ethanol industry for the first time.  Since that time US ethanol has been limited to only 44 percent of the market due to erroneous carbon intensity scoring. IL Corn and its partners at the U.S. Grains Council and other state corn organizations have worked tirelessly over time to demonstrate that US ethanol meets the Japanese government’s carbon intensity criteria. As Japan continues its push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, IL Corn anticipates that the country will transition from a 1.9 percent blend to three percent ethanol blends in the next few years.


Throughout 2022, IL Corn supported efforts in coordination with the U.S. Grains Council to address incorrect carbon scores.  IL Corn sent technical experts Dr. Steffen Muller, researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Dr. Michael Wang, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, to Tokyo to meet with and educate Japanese regulators, and followed up with another mission that helped address concerns about farming practices and ethanol availability.


The latest mission to Tokyo helped highlight years of effort by the U.S. Grains Council and IL Corn to accurately portray the carbon intensity score of ethanol in the United States. The increase in market access expansion is set to begin in April 2023.


Duckworth and Emanuel have both championed the use of ethanol in the U.S. and abroad. An advocate for the energy diversity and climate-friendly fuel, Duckworth took her message to Japanese government officials and business leaders.


“Throughout my time in Japan, I had great conversations about how we can work together in a mutually beneficial way that would help grow Illinois’ economy, bolster trade between our nations, and support jobs in the agriculture and tech sectors—all while improving our supply chain,” said Duckworth. “Illinois is ready to help bring our world into the future and play a critical role in the expansion of Japan’s ethanol market. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure the whole world knows it.”

Ambassador Emanuel has also worked to expand market access to the U.S. ethanol throughout his tenure in Japan. IL Corn thanked the Ambassador by giving him a bust of Abraham Lincoln in recognition of his contribution to the growing demand for ethanol.


“It was a pleasure to travel to Japan to talk about U.S. ethanol and sit down with someone I’ve known and worked with for years from Illinois,” said Rodney Weinzierl, IL Corn Executive Director. “Ambassador Emanuel’s insight into Japanese political process was impactful to our work there.”


“U.S. corn-based ethanol is a great fit for Japanese climate goals,” said Jeff Scates, IL Corn Director and farmer from Shawneetown, IL. “I’m proud that our Illinois corn checkoff dollars are funding work that helps to update Japanese rules and regulatory processes so that they are more science-based and are using updated models. I saw firsthand how U.S. corn-based ethanol can be a part of the energy solution of the future in Japan.”

If Japan transitions to a 10 percent ethanol blend, the increase represents a potential 1.2-billion-gallon ethanol market.