Lifestyle Being Geared to Save Energy in Japan

Editorial looks at initiatives in Japan to curb the growth of energy consumption,noting that the sense of crisis grips the Ministry of Economy,Trade and Industry.

Published: 05-Feb-2005

energy-wasting industrialized world had a rude awakening in the 1970s when oil prices zoomed into the stratosphere. Japan was no exception. The oil crisis spread a sense of energy dependence nationwide, setting off a spate of conservation measures. In recent years, though, Japanese consumers seem to have grown complacent about saving energy amid an array of electrical products and appliances that have made their lives more convenient and comfortable.

Under these circumstances, the Kyoto Protocol on climate change -- which sets binding targets for industrialized nations' trimming emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2 and other greenhouse gases -- will take effect Feb. 16. Japan must cut its emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels in the five years between 2008 and 2012. This target will be difficult to achieve if CO2 emissions continue to increase. As the host of the 1997 Kyoto conference on global warming, Japan has an added responsibility to meet its international commitment.

As a result, a sense of crisis grips the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). In a bid to curb the growth of energy consumption, the ministry has drafted legislation calling for new conservation measures. The bill, due to reach the Diet floor during the current regular session that opened last month, would require large trucking and other transportation companies to submit reports on their emission-reduction plans. The ministry would issue recommendations or orders to the companies if their plans fell short of requirements. Violations of such orders could be subject to fines.

The proposed legislation would require construction companies to use more energy-efficient equipment and materials, such as for air conditioners and heat insulation, when building or renovating condominiums with a floor area of at least 2,000 square meters. Under current law, these requirements apply only to office buildings of that floor area.

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