- Buildings Guide
- Policy Guide
- Appliances Guide
Japan has established an intelligent and overall policy package to improve the energy efficiency of appliances. The main and unique instrument is the “Top Runner Program”, which requires manufacturers to meet the Top Runner standard based on the best performance of current technologies. A mandatory and voluntary labelling scheme inform consumers of how far a product has achieved the targets and notify them about the energy performance of the product. The mandatory label goes hand in hand with an eco-point scheme for three types of appliances including refrigerators and freezers, which provides incentives for end-users to buy an energy-efficient appliance. In addition, retailers who have pushed energy efficient products outstandingly receive an award and can be called a “Top Energy Efficient Product Retailing Promotion Store” and use a special logo mark. Furthermore, the Top Runner Program and the labelling system for appliances has led to increases of 9.5% in R&D expenditures by appliance producers. The Green Procurement Law, a recycling programme and information campaigns complement the successful policy package.
An exemplary product group are refrigerators and freezers: With the Top Runner Program, Japan achieved an energy efficiency improvement rate of 55.2% from fiscal year (FY) 1998 (647.3kWh/yr) till FY 2004 (290.3 kWh/yr) for electric refrigerators (with test method JIS C9801 (1999)), which was even better than expected. For 2010, a study expected further energy savings of 21% for refrigerators and 12.7% for freezers compared to 2005 levels. Actual efficiency improvement is 43.0% from FY 2005 (572kwh/yr) to FY2010 (326kwh/yr) especially for large refrigerators and 24.9% for freezers (with test method JIS C9801 (2006)).
Japan combines several measures to a consistent policy package promoting the dissemination of energy efficient appliances. Probably the most important instrument is the “Top Runner Program”, which was designed to stimulate continuous technological improvements by the manufacturers towards an increased energy efficiency of selected product groups. The underlying logic is to identify the most efficient technologies in the market and then turn it into the top runner standard (100%) which similar products have to meet before a defined target year is reached. This target year is usually three to 12 years into the future.
Beside targeting the actions of suppliers, an additional mechanism in the framework of the Top Runner Program is concerned with the purchasing decision of end users. A mandatory comparative energy labelling scheme for five important types of appliances and a voluntary but more comprehensive energy labelling scheme enable end-users to conclude informed purchasing decisions by showing how far a certain product has achieved the energy consumption efficiency standard of the Top Runner Program. Furthermore, the labelling schemes inform readers about the energy consumption and the monetary savings of the product and aim to guide a consumer’s purchasing decision. The mandatory classification label uses a five-star rating that provides consumers with comparative purchasing information.
This ranking system is also an important precondition for the eco-point scheme. For four or five star labelled products, the consumer can get so called “eco-points”. These eco-points can be exchanged with, for example; energy efficient or environmentally friendly products or prepaid cards.
In addition to the Top Runner Program, the labelling initiatives and the eco-point scheme, a retailer commendation programme was introduced to contribute to further energy efficient product sales. The programme selects stores, which are active in selling and promoting energy-efficient products (Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 32010). Retailers who have pushed energy efficient products outstandingly receive this award and can label their store as a “Top Energy Efficient Product Retailing Promotion Store”.
To take account of the old inefficient household appliances, Japan has established a recycling programme. Collection centres were established as well as recycling plants. In 2004, 25% of all recycled electric appliances were refrigerators (2,800,000 units).
Information campaigns, for example; several school programmes, product databases, catalogues and campaigns for consumers were implemented to address the demand side. Another programme is named “Smart Life” and represents new lifestyles. It informs consumers about the labelling scheme and energy efficiency in general.
To address the public sector Japan introduced the Green Purchasing Law (The law concerning the promotion of eco-friendly goods and services by the state and other entities) in 2001. The law makes it obligatory for ministries, agencies and other governmental institutions to procure eco-friendly products. Green procurement has been considered to be one of the most successful environmental initiatives in Japan (ICLEI Europe 2001).
With these policies the energy efficiency of home electronics equipment have largely improved. The next figure illustrates the annual power consumption trends of electric refrigerators (Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 2010). In 1998, household refrigerators and freezers accounted for 17% of electricity use in the residential sector in Japan. The numbers in the figure indicate guidelines as an estimate for the annual power consumption by refrigerators with the rated capacity of 401-450 litres for each fiscal year.
With the great earthquake in 2011 and the consequences of this disaster energy efficiency and conservation have increased their relevance as a solution to energy supply-demand problems and to achieve a reduction of nuclear dependency.
Policy roadmap and targets for very efficient appliances
Since the first oil crisis, Japan has promoted energy efficiency and conservation, mostly due to the combined efforts made by both public and private sectors. The government decided to set up measures covering both energy supply and demand to achieve emission reductions. In 1979, Japan enacted the “Law concerning the Rational Use of Energy” (Energy Conservation Law), which provided the legal basis to push energy conservation activities and to promote assistance policies.
Since its first implementation, the law set voluntary energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, air-conditioners and cars. In 1999, following Japan’s commitments related to greenhouse gas reduction made at Kyoto, the Energy Conservation Law was revised in order to strengthen energy conservation measures (Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 2010). Further, at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change held in 2009, Japan announced the target of reducing its emissions by 25% compared with the 1990 level, premised on agreement on ambitious targets by all the major economies. The role of energy conservation efforts has taken on paramount importance as one of the initiatives towards this goal.
In June 2010, the government released a revised Basic Energy Plan. This revised plan lays out specific measures covering the next 20 years approximately, to beyond 2030, on the premise that far-reaching action in the energy supply/demand structure as well as social systems and lifestyles is essential in order to respond to the resource limitations and environmental constraints in the medium to long term. A “Plan to Establish the Measures by the Government to Control GHG emissions” was published in 2007 with the aim to support the efficient use of vehicles, to ensure the energy efficiency in existing buildings and to promote the introduction of energy efficient appliances (IEA 2012).
After the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 the government sector established additional energy conservation measures and energy saving targets to reduce the electricity demand (IEA 2012).
In 2010 during the “Conference of Parties” (COP) meeting in Cancun (Mexico) the Japanese government formulated improving energy-efficiency through international co-operations and multilateral projects. Japan is member of the IPEEC (International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Co-operation) and leads the EMAK task group (Energy Management Action Networks for Industrial Efficiency). Furthermore, it leads the GSEP (Global Superior Energy Performance Initiative) task group with the USA (IPEEC 2012). There are several other co-operations with countries all over the world with the aim to support energy efficiency and to exchange expertise. The Japan International Co-operation (JICA) organises several activities on international level.
To promote green procurement the International Green Purchasing Network was launched in 2005 with members in Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America (International Green Purchasing Network 2012). The mission is to promote green purchasing activities and to share information and best practice examples. Additionally, the network aims to harmonise the efforts of green purchasing from a global viewpoint (Machiba et al. 2007).
The Japanese agency is the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE). It is an agency of the Ministry of Economic, Trade and Industry (METI) and responsible or Japan’s policy in regard to energy.
In addition, the Energy Conservation Centre of Japan (ECCJ) has been established to promote energy efficiency in the commercial and residential sector.
Government agencies and budget
All policies in Japan’s package for energy efficiency in appliances are operated by government agencies and financed from the government’s budget. In most cases, this is the METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). For more information see: METI (2012).
Energy/CO2 taxation and emission trading
Japan currently has three types of energy taxes: A tax for imported or extracted energy sources (e.g. coals petroleum), a tax for the transportation of fuels, such as the Gasoline Tax and the “tax for prompting the Development of Electric Power Facilities”, a tax levied on the energy conversion sector (Soo-cheol et al. 2011).
As one of the environment taxes, tax for reining in the use of fossil fuels and combating global warming took effect on 10th October 2012. The government has estimated that the tax burden for each household will increase by about 1,200 Yen in the 2016 fiscal year. The tax, which will be imposed on fossil fuels including crude oil and natural gas, is in line with the government's policy of aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Tokyo Cap and Trade: the Governor of Tokyo submitted a bill to the second regular meeting of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in June 2008 that introduced mandatory targets for reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions for large-scale emitters as part of an emissions trading programme. The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed the bill, thus introducing Japan's first cap-and-trade emissions trading programme, to take effect in the 2010 fiscal year. The target is large business in Tokyo (about 1,400 offices including hospitals and hotels, as well as government agencies) which use an amount of electricity and fuel that is more than 1,500 kiloliters of crude oil equivalent per year.
During the first years of the planning period (2010-2014), the large-scale business sector needs to reduce 6% of the base-year emissions of the existing facilities (buildings/factories). The target can be achieved by voluntary reduction actions by introducing LED lighting and energy saving appliances or by buying emissions credits from another company.
Minimum energy performance standards (MEPS)
Japan does not have minimum energy performance standards but instead follows the Top Runner Approach.
Top Runner Approach
In 1979, Japan adopted the “Law concerning the Rational Use of Energy” (Energy Conservation Law) as a legal basis (METI, Top Runner Program 2010, p.4) in order to stimulate energy efficiency. The Top Runner Program emerged in April 1999 as a consequent advancement of this approach. It was seen as an alternative to Minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) that was adapted to the Japanese culture of co-operation. It was initiated by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and designed to stimulate continuous technological improvements by the manufacturers towards an increased energy efficiency of selected products. To date, the programme covers 23 different product groups from the residential, commercial and transportation sectors (cf. METI 2010, p.5). The logic behind the Top Runner Program is a maximum energy efficiency standard value system. “[T]argets are set based on the value of the most energy-efficient products on the market at the time of the value setting process [...]. [T]his Top Runner Program uses, as a base value, the value of the product with the highest energy consumption efficiency on the market at the time of the standard establishment process, and sets standard values by considering potential technological improvements added as efficiency improvements” (Top Runner Program 2010, p.6). Target fiscal years, by which the target standard value must be achieved, are set up through taking into consideration future technological development forecast and the development period of products, usually in the range between 3 to 12 years. Within this time, manufacturers have to make sure that not all of their products, but their sales-weighted average meets at least the defined standards. This is another difference to MEPS schemes.
For the exemplary product group refrigerators and freezers, this method (combined with supporting measures) achieved an energy efficiency improvement rate of 55.2% (and 29.6% for freezers) from fiscal year (FY) 1998 (647.3kWh/yr) till FY 2004 (290.3 kWh/yr), which was even far better than expected. The expected average energy consumption for the target year for refrigerators was 449.7 kWh/yr (Final Report 2006, p.1). The next defined target fiscal year for electric refrigerators and freezers was 2010 with the base fiscal year being 2005. In this period energy improvements of 21% for refrigerators and 12.7% for freezers were required.
Other legal requirements
As a step to dispose old and replaced household appliances correctly, the METI and the Ministry of Environment adopted the “Home Appliance Recycling Law” in 2001, which also applies for refrigerators. To make an appropriate disposure possible, collection centres were established and manufacturers set up home appliance recycling plants. In 2004, 25% of all recycled electric appliances were refrigerators (2,800,000 units), which is a rise of 5 percent compared to the previous year (AEHA).
Mandatory comparative labelling scheme
A label display programme for Retailers was established to stipulate that they provide information about the energy efficiency of products displayed in their shops. The new comparative rating system, the “Uniform Energy Saving Label” was established in 2006 and shows “the relative position of a given product in the market with respect to energy saving performance” (Market Transformation Good Practices Handbook 2009, p.26) by using a five-star mark. It targets five important types of appliances and building equipment: Electric refrigerators, TV sets, electric toilet seats, air conditioners, and lighting products. The scope of the label is to help retailers inform their customers about the energy consumption and energy costs of single products and to provide end-users with accurate and comparable information which influences their choices in favour of more efficient products (The Energy Conservation Center Japan 2009, p.2). The Uniform Energy Saving Level displays the multi-level evaluation rate relatively ranked for commercially available products, estimated annual electricity charges (or estimated fuel use) as well as the energy label that shows the energy efficiency of individual products.
The great advantage of the label is, on the one hand, the star rating, which eases product comparison and, on the other hand, the presentation of the expected annual electricity bill to inform investors and end-users about the life-cycle costs. It is stipulated that retailers use the “Uniform Energy-Saving Label” for the products exhibited at their shops. (Top Runner Program 2010, p.23). The next figure offers an overview of the concept.
Voluntary endorsement labelling scheme
A supporting measure for the Japanese Top Runner Program is a voluntary labelling scheme, which aims to guide the consumer’s purchasing decision and to both show and create opportunities for monetary savings by switching to the energy efficient product. The “Energy Labelling Program” informs consumers about the electricity consumption of a product. It was introduced earlier than the “Uniform Energy Saving Label” in 2000 and targets all product categories in the Top Runner Program, but it is not mandatory that it be used. Both labels are used at the same time to enhance the effectiveness of energy efficiency.
The voluntary label consists of four different elements: “a symbol used to show the degree that energy saving standards had been achieved, the energy saving standard achievement rate, the energy consumption efficiency, and the target fiscal year” The label aims to promote the popularisation of highly efficient products that have achieved Top Runner Standard values through manufacturers’ efforts, providing consumers with information (Top Runner Program 2010, p.22). The label was launched in August 2000 and is coloured in orange for a product which does not achieve the target standards of energy efficiency, while the label is coloured green for a product that achieves over 100% of the target standard. The “achievement rate of energy efficiency standards” is given as a percentage indicating how the product’s energy efficiency relates to the target value, with a rate above 100% indicating that the product is more energy-efficient than the target value (Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 2010). For better understanding please have look at the next figure. Today the label is applied to 16 product groups.
For office equipment, in addition to the energy labelling programme Japan also uses the voluntary ENERGY STAR label for energy efficient products, which was first introduced in the United States in 1992. The Japanese government joined in 1995 and uses the same product criteria as the U.S. programme. METI is responsible for the implementation of the ENERGY STAR label.
Provision of targeted information
The Energy Conservation Centre of Japan (ECCJ) has been established to promote energy efficiency in the commercial and residential sector. The ECCJ designated schools as energy conservation model schools and supports their energy-efficiency activities. Moreover, they provide up-to-date information to consumers with the aim of influencing the buying decision and to improve the energy efficiency of appliances (Kawaguchi NA).
Another campaign is the development of a database for green products and services ( ). This database contains over 15,000 products in 17 categories and provides information on environmental performance of products from different manufacturers. This information is updated four times a year (Kataoka 2012). METI also developed a database with high-performance energy efficient appliances. Since 2000, METI has published a catalogue, which categorises an appliance by size and performance. The catalogue is updated twice a year (IEA 2012).
METI also established the “Energy Efficient Household Appliance Promotion Forum” with the aim of promoting the widespread use of energy-efficient appliances. The forum collaborates with parties, retailers and consumer groups. Some activities include; the provision of information and an energy saving diagnosis tool (IEA 2012).
Following the great earthquake in March 2011, the Japanese government painstakingly provided information to households and individuals and promoted energy savings through education. Although the main objective was to reduce summertime electricity demand peaks, it achieved also large energy savings.
Feedback and other measures targeting user behaviour
The Energy Conservation Centre of Japan (ECCJ) has promoted the development of a energy conservation monitoring device, named “Energy Conservation Navi”. “In the start-up phase 5,700 households have been provided with this electricity fee indication system” (Kawaguchi NA). The system shows the volume of energy used and the electricity cost for every minute. The aim of the Navi is to make energy consumption visible and comparable. The Navi can also monitor gas and water consumptions (Kawaguchi NA).
In addition, the Energy Conservation Center Japan (EECJ) has kicked off a programme called “Smart Life” which should represent a new lifestyle where one does not use energy unnecessarily and which also allows a healthy daily life. The programme is not designed to force people to live that way, it encourages them to live that way by fully understanding energy conservation. The EECJ tries to promote the energy saving lifestyle nationwide in the residential and commercial sector by organising PR campaigns or educating the public. Thereby, the EECJ aims to promote energy efficient appliances through the labelling system and tries to give an input on how a life style change can be achieved (EECJ 2012).
Financial incentives for very energy-efficient appliances
A further step for energy efficiency promotion is the eco-points scheme, which was established by METI and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in order to “promote environmentally-friendly home appliance products” on the Japanese market. Eco-points can be received for the purchase of ecological home appliances like energy-efficient refrigerators. Products have to have at least 4 of the 5 stars from the “Uniform Energy-Saving Labelling Program” for eco points to be disseminated. Then the eco-points can be exchanged e.g. with energy efficient or environmentally friendly products, products that are profitable for the regional economy, prepaid cards etc. Organisations that provide these coupons or pre-paid cards are obliged to provide some form of environmental-friendly donation (IEA: Eco-Points). The eco-points scheme targets several topics like energy efficiency and the reduction of GHG emissions, but it also tries to stimulate the Japanese economy. With a budget of 693 billion yen, eco-points have been issued in about 45 million cases. The programme ended in 2009.
The Eco-points system “served an economic effect (about 5 trillion yen) […] and creates employment for about 320,000 persons/year in total” (METI 2011). Since the implementation of the Eco-Points scheme, the shipping of energy efficient appliances has increased a lot. Between April and December 2010, 98% of the refrigerators sold under the scheme were labelled with four or more stars of the Uniform Energy Saving Label (MOE/METI 2011, p.5).
The METI also introduced a programme to support energy efficiency in buildings. METI provided subsidies for projects to promote the installation of high-efficiency energy systems in houses and buildings. However, these programmes focus on the diffusion of energy-efficient hot water supply systems and air conditioning systems. In this case a “subsidy covers the price difference between the efficient and the conventional” product (IEA 2012).
Education and training
In Japan, the Energy Conservation Centre of Japan (ECCJ) has been established to promote energy efficiency in schools. The ECCJ promotes schools as energy conservation model schools and supports their energy-efficiency activities. The Centre also provides training courses for teachers.
Furthermore, it is very likely that the awards to retailers for promoting energy-efficient appliances (cf. the section on competitions and awards) have led to large-scale training efforts for sales staff from the participating retailers.
Voluntary agreements with manufacturers
Japanese manufacturers entered into a voluntary agreement to reduce stand-by power consumption to 1W or lower. Participating industrial associations were JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association), JEMA (The Japan Electrical Manufacturers Association) and JRAIA (The Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association). JEITA and JEMA completed their commitment at the end of 2003; JRAIA at the end of the 2004 (Agency for Natural Resources and Energy 2007; IEA 2012).
Energy efficient public procurement
Japan introduced the Green Purchasing Law (“The law concerning the promotion of eco-friendly goods and services by the state and other entities”) in 2001. The law makes it obligatory for ministries, agencies and other governmental institutions to procure eco-friendly products. Local authorities and private individuals are also encouraged to make efforts for purchasing green products (Machiba 2007). The objective of this law is to promote goods and services that contribute to reducing environmental loads. This includes the promotion of greener purchasing by public organisations and the provision of information on eco-friendly goods. Furthermore, every ministry has to prepare and announce annual procurement policy with defined targets and to report results to the Environment Ministry. A website informs readers about eco-friendly products and a Green Procurement Network (GPN) provides information on products. The GPN guideline uses a 5 point scheme for each product group. These criteria are for example; energy-efficiency and recyclability (Machiba et al. 2007). Green procurement has been considered to be one of the most successful environmental initiatives in Japan (ICLEI Europe 2001).
Research and development funding
NEDO, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization is the largest R&D management organisation in Japan and promotes research and development of energy, environment and industrial technologies. “NEDO co-ordinates technology development activities in collaboration with industrial, academic and governmental sectors, and it is committed to undertaking technology development and demonstration projects that contribute to the resolution of energy and global environmental problems (Furukawa NA). NEDO projects include the development of energy-efficient technologies (like high efficient water heaters, air conditioning equipment and standby power consumption reduction technologies) and demonstration projects for next-generation technologies (NEDO 2012).
METI has also established the “Cool Earth Innovative Energy Technology Program” and selected 21 technologies as innovative energy technologies allocating JPY 73 billion (USD 826 million) in 2008 for R&D investments (IEEJ NA). Product groups, which are included in the Cool Earth Programme are next generation high efficiency lighting products such as LED, and ultra-high efficiency heat pumps.
In addition, the Top Runner Program and the labelling system for appliances led to increases of 9.5% in R&D expenditures by appliance producers (Hamamoto 2011).
Competitions and awards
The “Energy Efficient Product Retailer Assessment Program” is a measure that encourages product retailers to promote energy-efficient products in their stores and raise the awareness of consumers to the advantages of:energy efficient refrigerators, for example. Retailers who have pushed energy efficient products outstandingly receive an award (Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award; Minister of Environment Award, Director General of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy Award; Energy Conservation Center Chairman Award) and are selected as “Outlets that Excel at Promoting Energy-Efficient Products”. Afterwards the store can be called a “Top Energy Efficient Product Retailing Promotion Store” and use the logo. The selection indicators include shop assistants’ knowledge, in-company training histories, etc. In FY 2009, 485 large-scale stores and 210 small-scale stores were certified as excellent stores (Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 2010). To inform the public about selected shops that have been awarded this status, results are published in newspapers, magazines or journals of consumer organisations. Retailers are seen as the most important connection between manufacturers and consumers. With the special logo, consumers might prefer them for upcoming purchases of energy-efficient appliances (Market Transformation Good Practices Handbook 2009, p.27 & Top Runner Program 2010, p.25).
|Policy roadmap and targets for very efficient appliances||Implemented||
Basic Energy Plan, Energy Conservation Law
Japan is member of the IPEEC, EMAK, GSEP, Green Purchasing Network, JICA organises several activities
Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) Energy Conservation Centre of Japan (ECCJ)
|Energy saving obligations for energy companies||Not Implemented||
|Energy efficiency funds||Not Implemented||
|Government agencies and budget||Implemented||
ANRE, ECCJ, NEDO agencies and budget by METI
|Removal/reform of subsidies to end-user energy prices and on energy supply||Not Implemented||
|Energy/CO2 taxation and emissions trading||Implemented||
There are some energy taxes but not a emission trading or a carbon tax
|Minimum energy performance standards||Not Implemented||
|Top Runner Approach||Implemented||
Top Runner Program
|Other legal requirements||Implemented||
Home Appliance Recycling Law
|Mandatory comparative labelling scheme||Implemented||
Uniform Energy Saving Label
|Voluntary endorsement labelling scheme||Implemented||
Energy labelling programme; Energy Star for office equipment
|Provision of targeted information||Implemented||
School programmes, training courses, up-to-date information, “Energy efficient household appliance forum”, product database
|Feedback and other measures targeting user behaviour||Implemented||
Energy Conservation Navi Smart Life
|Education and training for supply chain actors||Implemented||
Energy education in schools; Training of retail sales staff by retailers under the Energy Efficient Product Retailer Assessment Program
|Voluntary agreements with manufacturers||Implemented||
Agreement to reduce stand-by power consumption
|Energy efficient public procurement||Implemented||
Green Procurement Law
|Research and development funding||Implemented||
NEDO is the largest R&D management organisation, METI has some R&D programmes
|Competitions and awards||Implemented||
Energy Efficient Product Retailer Assessment Program