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					      The Rise of
Eco-enterprise
 CONTENTS
                                                                                             FRONT COVER
                                                            Running on lithium-ion batteries, prototype electric
         through articles — April Issue                     vehicle Eliica is a serious rival for gasoline-powered
                                                             performance cars. (KEIO UNIVERSITY ELECTRIC
                                                                                        VEHICLE LABORATORY)

4-7
The Rise of                                            As the potential of environmental business
                                                       increases both at home and abroad, Japan is now
Eco-                                                   redoubling its efforts, making use of its past
enterprise                                             experiences, to create new technologies and
                                                       develop industries and businesses geared to
                                                       tackling global environmental issues and stimulating
                                                       economic growth. The Japan Journal reports.

8-10
The Low-                                               Responses to global warming should not be
                                                       treated as a mere policy issue, writes Kazuhiro
carbon Society                                         Ueta, professor of environmental economics and
Must Be                                                public finance at the Graduate School of
Sustainable                                            Economics at Kyoto University.


11-13
Roads Open                                             Keio University Professor Hisashi Ishitani
                                                       considers the present state and future prospects of
for Electric                                           electric vehicles.
Vehicles

14-15
Innovate,                                              Jun Arima, deputy director-general for
                                                       environmental affairs at the Ministry of Economy,
Disseminate                                            Trade and Industry, elucidates the two approaches
                                                       that Japan is taking to create a low-carbon society.

16-17
Cap-and-                                               A trial implementation of an integrated domestic
                                                       market for emissions trading—so-called
Trade: Does It                                         cap-and-trade—commenced in Japan in October
Fit Japan?                                             2008. The Japan Journal investigates.


18-19
Carbon Offset                                          Carbon offsetting has now commenced in Japan.
                                                       The Japan Journal asked Professor Hironori
Solutions                                              Hamanaka, chair of the Institute for Global
                                                       Environmental Strategies (IGES) Board of Directors,
                                                       for his views on the challenges ahead.




 2     Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
20-21
Time Now Ripe                                                 Waseda University Professor Shujiro Urata argues
                                                              that Japan should take advantage of the present
for Free Trade                                                economic and diplomatic climate to strengthen its
and Investment                                                free-trade policies.


22-23
Energy                                                        Toshiyuki Sakamoto, director of the Energy
                                                              Efficiency and Conservation Division of the Agency
Efficiency                                                    for Natural Resources and Energy, explains the
Policies of                                                   significance of the latest amendments to the Law
Japan                                                         concerning the Rational Use of Energy.

24-25
Life on Digital                                               The Japan Journal asked Professor Hiromichi
                                                              Fukui about the work being conducted under the
Earth                                                         Digital Asia Project to address the environmental
                                                              issues facing Asia and the world.

26-27
High Hopes for                                                Katsumi Asano, professor emeritus at the
                                                              University of Tsukuba and chairperson of Valid
Research on                                                   Utilization of Mt. Fuji Weather Station, introduces
Mt. Fuji                                                      some of the important research conducted in
                                                              recent years atop Mt. Fuji.
28-30
Bonsai                                                        Kunio Kobayashi opened Shunka-en Bonsai
                                                              Museum in 2002 with “the ambition to spread
Branching Out                                                 Japanese culture, especially bonsai, in a new way
                                                              to the rest of the world.” Julian Ryall visits the
                                                              Museum.

31-33
Saving the Sea                                                The number of loggerhead turtles landing on the
                                                              island of Yakushima to lay their eggs rose more
Turtles of                                                    than threefold year on year in 2008, thanks in no
Yakushima                                                     small part to the efforts of the volunteer
                                                              organization Yakushima Umigame Kan.
                                                              Nevertheless, the turtles’ ecology is still under
                                                              threat, as the NPO’s head, Kazumi Omuta,
                                                              reports.

34-35
Robot                                                         Isao Shimoyama, director of the Information and
                                                              Robot Technology Research Initiative (IRT) at the
Assistants                                                    University of Tokyo, details some recent
Coming of Age                                                 breakthroughs in the development of robots that
                                                              can support an aging, low birthrate society.




Dollar figures in the issue are calculated using a conversion rate of one dollar = 97 yen.
Edited and published by the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan.
The views expressed in this magazine by interviewees or contributors do not necessarily represent the views of the Cabinet Office or the Government.


                                                                                                                               Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   3
  COVER STORY


The Rise of
Eco-enterprise
Japan continues to overcome pollution and energy issues through                                       system that uses a heat pump. In addi-
                                                                                                      tion, heat-insulated glass and vacuum-
a combination of institutional reforms and the development of                                         insulated materials are used and rain-
environmental technologies often involving public- and                                                water is also utilized. The electrical
                                                                                                      appliances and light fittings used in
private-sector collaboration. Desulfurization equipment,                                              the home are Japanese-made models
fuel-efficient cars and energy-saving home electronics are just                                       boasting the highest level of energy-
some of the innovative environment-friendly products developed                                        saving efficiency in the world. These
                                                                                                      devices all incorporate a centrally
in this way in Japan in recent years. And as the potential of                                         managed intelligent system which
environmental business increases both at home and abroad,                                             controls activities ranging from energy
                                                                                                      usage to the selling of electrical power
Japan is now redoubling its efforts, making use of its past                                           to power companies. Devices are con-
experiences, to create new technologies and develop industries                                        trolled through voice-activated touch
                                                                                                      panels that are simple enough for chil-
and businesses geared to tackling global environmental issues                                         dren or the elderly to use....
and stimulating economic growth. The Japan Journal reports.                                                These types of near-future cars,
                                                                                                      houses or related products will be built




I
                                                                                                      through the world’s most advanced
     n a policy speech delivered in                      have vanished and the view of the city       energy-saving and environmental
     January this year, Prime Minister                   is also different. The air around the        technologies, robot technologies and
     Aso remarked, “We of the present                    city has cleared up, and an increasing       sensor technologies based on Japan’s
     day have the responsibility to re-                  number of restaurants and shops face         specialized talent in manufacturing,
solve the issue of global warming. At                    the streets in a cityscape that spreads      and made possible through a world-
the same time, efforts to address envi-                  out in an abounding sense of open-           class broadband environment.
ronmental issues are also the seeds that                 ness. Returning home, we will live in             Through the refinement and com-
generate new economic demand and                         a so-called 200-year house. This is of       bination of Japan’s experience, we can
employment. We will bring about a                        course a zero emission house, and in         combine economic development with
low-carbon, sound material-cycle soci-                   addition to solar power generation, it       environmental protection and at the
ety that is compatible with growth.”                     features fuel cells for household use as     same time contribute to the reduction
     Prime Minister Aso went on to                       well as wind generation. Hot water is        of greenhouse gases. That type of fu-
bring up the development and dis-                        supplied through a high-efficiency           ture is just around the corner.
semination of solar power generation
and environmentally friendly cars and
the creation of an effective Japanese-                   Appearance of “Zero Emission House”
style model through a trial implemen-
tation of emissions trading (see                                             Roof vegetation
pages 16–17).                                                                                                      PV (photovoltaic) systems
     What kind of life awaits us in the                     High-performance VIP hybrid
Japanese-style model of which the                                    PU insulation board                               High efficient heat pump
Prime Minister spoke?                                                                                                  hot-water supply systems
     Electric vehicles with high perfor-                              Small Wind
                                                                                                                                                  COURTESY OF MINISTRY OF ECONOMY, TRADE AND INDUSTRY




mance rechargeable batteries will be                                  Turbine Generator
in widespread use, and we will take
them to the streets after recharging
using electricity produced through our
homes’ solar power generation sys-
tems. Being an electric vehicle, no
emissions are produced, and the motor                    Residential fuel                                                   Electric vehicles
                                                                  池                                             Ecocement
drive issues almost no noise. The                           cell systems                            Vacuum
sound-insulating walls of expressways                                                               insulation glass
 4   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
                                                 industries face severe international      cooperation with Kansai Electric
                                                 competition, Japan is a world             Power, plans to build two mega-solar
                                                 leader in the installation and pro-       power generation plants (total 28
                                                 duction of such technologies.             MW) in the city.
                                                      According to the International            Sanyo also plans to double the
                                                 Energy Associa tion’s Trends in           production capability of photovoltaic
                                                 Photovoltaic Applications, in             cells to 600 MW by 2010, while
                                                 2007 Japan (1.92 GW) was sec-             Kyocera will increase its production
                                                 ond only to Germany (3.86 GW)             capability from 200 MW to 650 MW

                                            TADASHI AIZAWA
                                                 in its accumulated capacity of in-        by 2012.
                                                 stalled photovoltaic power. Mean-              According to a report by METI’s
An energy-use monitor in the Zero                while, according to the American          Study Group on Solar System Industry
Emission House, an exhibit at the                industry publication PV News,             Strategy released on March 18, the
G8 Hokkaio Toyako Summit                         Sharp holds the world’s second            current market size of the solar power
                                                 largest share of the photovoltaic         generation-related industry is 1 trillion
                                                 cell market (9.7%), while fellow          yen (10.3 billion dollars) and employs
Photovoltaic Power                          Japanese companies Kyocera (5.5%)              some 12,000 people. However, the re-
Business                                    and Sanyo (4.4%) are fourth and                port forecasts that if Japan’s share of
                                            sixth, respectively.                           worldwide solar cell production in-
Behind the development of energy                 To increase the installation of           creases from the current level of
conservation and environmental tech-        photovoltaic power, the Japanese               around one-quarter to over one-third
nologies in Japan is the nation’s expe-     govern ment has introduced various             by 2020, solar power generation-relat-
rience of pollution problems during         measures. The Low-carbon Action                ed industries will create an economic
the high economic growth period of          Plan approved by the Cabinet in July           effect worth up to about 10 trillion yen
the 1950s to 1970s. In response to the      2008 set out the target that photo-            and will provide employment for up to
situation, the government established       voltaic power installation increase by         about 110,000 people.
and revised numerous laws to prevent        ten times in 2020 and by forty times                The weakness of solar and wind
and reduce water, air and noise pollu-      in 2030, compared to current levels. It        power is that the power output fluctu-
tion. Directed by the tough standards       also targets a halving of prices for           ates according to the weather. How-
laid down by central and local govern-      photovoltaic power systems from the            ever, storage batteries which overcome
ments, companies set about developing       current levels in three to five years          this weakness are now under develop-
the technologies that would meet them.      from now. Based on the Plan, the               ment. If electricity generated by solar
As a result, levels of environmental        government compiled an action plan             and wind power can be stored, it will
pollution have rapidly decreased since      last November to expand photovoltaic           be possible to provide electricity sta-
the 1970s. Moreover, Japanese eco-          power installation. It includes devel-         bly to end users.
nomic growth did not slow, despite the      opment of materials and modules,                    In May 2008, the world’s first
huge investment made by Japanese            collaboration between the photo-               wind power generation facility with
companies to prevent pollution.             voltaic power industry and housing             storage batteries started operation in
Indeed, thanks to the development of        industry, and promotion of photo-              the village of Rokkasho, Aomori
environmental technologies, compa-          voltaic power installation in public fa-       Prefecture. The storage battery is an
nies enhanced their international com-      cilities such as schools, roads, rail-         NAS battery developed by NGK
petitiveness. The oil shocks of the         roads and airports. From January, the          Insulators, the world’s only company
1970s also served to accelerate Japa-       government started to offer subsidies          to have successfully commercialized
nese companies’ development of ener-        to individuals who install photovoltaic        the battery. The NAS battery consists
gy conservation technologies.               power systems at home (70,000 yen              of sulfur at the positive electrode and
     According to Ministry of Eco-          for every kilowatt of power genera-            sodium at the negative electrode as the
nomy, Trade and Industry data for           tion capacity). The Tokyo Metro-               active materials. Although its energy
2003, the market size of the “environ-      politan Government will also provide           density is three times higher than the
ment business,” which includes pollu-       subsidies to people who install equip-         conventional lead acid battery, its
tion prevention equipment, recycling        ment using solar power, which in-              weight and volume are just a third. It
equipment and environment-conscious         cludes photovoltaic power and solar            also has long-term durability of some
products, is 4.8 trillion yen (49 billion   thermal power, from April.                     fifteen years.
dollars) and employs some 1.36 mil-              Japanese companies are actively                The NAS battery has garnered a
lion people.                                investing in photovoltaic power. Sharp         high reputation not only at home but
     One of the “seeds that generate        will build a factory producing thin-           also abroad. NGK Insulators provided
new economic demand and employ-             film silicon solar cells amounting to 1        a 1,000 kW NAS battery to a mega-
ment” that the Japanese government          million kW per year by 2010 in Sakai           solar power generation plant in
has focused on is photovoltaic power.       City, Osaka Prefecture. Using these            Germany in December 2008. NGK
Although photovoltaic power-related         thin-film silicon solar cells, Sharp, in       Insulators has also received an order
                                                                                        Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   5
                                                COVER STORY
KEIO UNIVERSITY ELECTRIC VEHICLE LABORATORY




                                                                                                                                                  stalled systems is approximately
                                                                                                                                                  18,000 tons. Currently, there are about
                                                                                                                                                  20,000 supermarkets in Japan (number
                                                                                                                                                  of stores according to an excerpt from
                                                                                                                                                  the METI Yearbook of the Current
                                                                                                                                                  Survey of Commerce [2007]), which if
                                                                                                                                                  they all introduced this system into
                                              Research results from the Eliica electric vehicle project are promoting                             their stores, it would have an equiva-
                                              further advances in related fields.                                                                 lent reduction of more than 1,000,000
                                                                                                                                                  tons of CO2 emissions yearly (accord-
                                                                                                                                                  ing to company calculations).
                                              for a 50 MW NAS battery from the                         METI’s Environmental Industries                With respect to this visualiza-
                                              Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Au-                      Office, comments, “Eco-Products            tion, METI is tackling yet another
                                              thority of the United Arab Emirates.                     Exhibitions are held with the aim of       method for the “visualization of fi-
                                              As demand increases, NGK Insulators                      communicating developments to the          nancial markets.”
                                              will increase production capacity of                     public and to advance companies’ ini-          At present, the environmental ca-
                                              the NAS battery from 90 MW per year                      tiatives to reduce their load on the en-   pacity of companies that address envi-
                                              to 150 MW by 2010.                                       vironment. METI actively supports          ronmental issues is not being properly
                                                   Other companies are also develop-                   the spread of such ‘visualization’ to      assessed. For that reason, companies
                                              ing high-quality storage batteries.                      consumers and the promotion of relat-      either cannot attract investment, or the
                                              Kawasaki Heavy Industries is devel-                      ed business-to-business and business-      incentives for them to address envi-
                                              oping a storage battery for solar and                    to-consumer relationships.”                ronment issues are not working.
                                              wind power using a nickel metal-                              In 2008, SANYO Electric was               “We are proceeding with initia-
                                              hydride battery.                                         awarded the Eco-Products Award             tives in conjunction with the Tokyo
                                                   Eliiy Power, a venture company                      (Minister of Economy, Trade and            Stock Exchange to assess the behavior
                                              established based on research results                    Industry Award) in the Eco-Services        of companies towards the environ-
                                              of the eight-wheel electric vehicle                      category for its Eco-Store System.         ment, including efforts in energy con-
                                              Eliica developed by Keio University,                          The Eco-Store System is an in-        servation and recycling, and to trans-
                                              is working together with Sharp to de-                    store integrated management system         late that behavior into share price
                                              velop a large-capacity lithium-ion bat-                  able to provide control for optimum        indexes. The goal is for investment to
                                              tery for use with solar power genera-                    energy savings through a master con-       be diverted to companies that address
                                              tion systems.                                            troller providing uniform energy man-      environmental issues based on such an
                                                   NEDO (New Energy and Industri-                      agement for the in-store showcases,        index to enhance their competitive
                                              al Technology Development Organiza-                      including the refrigeration units for      footing,” explains Kimizuka.
                                              tion) estimates that the market size of                  both the frozen and chilled food show-         In addition to these efforts, METI
                                              storage batteries for solar and wind                     cases, and the in-store air conditioning   has compiled the “Collection of Best
                                              power will be some 300 billion yen (3                    systems as well as others. Previously,     Practices for Business to Turn the
                                              billion dollars) at home in 2020 and                     these various systems and devices          Environment into Power,” which in-
                                              that for hybrid cars, electric cars and                  were operated through individual con-      troduces cases of leading-edge envi-
                                              fuel cell cars one trillion yen (10 bil-                 trol systems, but by connecting each       ronmental businesses aimed at solving
                                              lion dollars) by 2015.                                   device to a communications network         worldwide environmental issues
                                                                                                       and performing uniform management          through conversion to a sustainable
                                              Visualization of                                         and linked operations using the master     industry and society in which environ-
                                              Environment Business                                     controller capable of acquiring real-      mental conservation and economic
                                                                                                       time operation conditions, the appro-      growth coexist.
                                              To promote the environment business                      priate temperature adjustments for the         The assembled cases include ad-
                                              and technology, it is important for or-                  showcase can be done to maintain the       vanced and unique business models,
                                              dinary people and companies to accu-                     freshness of the food, while simultane-    those that strike a balance between
                                              rately know the current situation. To                    ously realizing up to 23% of total         environmental load reduction and
                                              do so, the government is working to                      electrical power consumption savings       business profits, as well as those for
                                              help people “visualize” the environ-                     in the supermarket.                        which the expertise and factors for
                                              ment business and technology.                                 As of October 2008, approximate-      success are both clear and versatile,
                                                  One way of doing so is through                       ly 300 stores nationwide have pur-         and cases in which success as a busi-
                                              the Eco-Products Awards, which since                     chased and installed this system. On       ness has been achieved by overcoming
                                              2004 have been given to products and                     average, the expected reduction in an-     adverse factors.
                                              services conscious of reducing their                     nual CO2 emissions for one store is            METI plans to collect even more
                                              environmental impact, at the annual                      approximately 60 tons, and based on        case examples and to complete a vi-
                                              Eco-Products Exhibition.                                 that average, an annual reduction of       sion to “make the environment a posi-
                                                  Hideki Kimizuka, director of                         CO 2 emissions for the currently in-       tive, not a negative.”
                                               6   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
Recycling Business                          source of heat from incineration (ther-     collect high-quality rare metals effi-
                                            mal recycling).                             ciently with low cost, it will also fi-
At the Davos Forum in January 2009,             While efforts in these three fields     nance institutions to develop technolo-
Prime Minister Aso remarked,                have already matured, there are new         gies to detach and separate components
“Climate change is a challenge, yet to      challenges to face, such as achieving a     containing rare metals from small
tackle it is also an opportunity to cre-    low-carbon society and securing scarce      electronic and electrical equipment.
ate new industries. Japan, as the           metal resources.                                  Numerous private companies have
world’s number one leader in energy             Norihiro Yokoyama, director of          also launched businesses for the recy-
efficiency, is a case in point. Over the    the Recycling Promotion Division at         cling of rare metals. Beginning last
last thirty years, we have doubled our      METI says, “We received a business          spring, an affiliate company of Dowa
real GDP without increasing the ener-       proposal for plastic recycling and the      Holdings, a major mining operator,
gy consumption of our industrial sec-       collection of rare metals. Plastics con-    has been engaged in the recovery of
tor. Our primary energy consumption         tain many types of materials, and           some seventeen rare metals such as in-
per unit of GDP stands at only one-         under existing conditions it is difficult   dium and bismuth from scrapped per-
half the average for OECD countries         to separate those materials, so they are    sonal computer circuit boards, mobile
and less than one-third of the global       often incinerated or used for heat re-      telephones, consumer electronics and
average. Transforming the oil crisis        covery. Doing so requires sophisticat-      appliances, using its smelting technol-
into an opportunity has been part of        ed techniques to separate materials         ogies to process the waste. In coopera-
Japan’s history.”                           such as PP (polypropylene), PE (poly-       tion with the Akita Prefecture govern-
     The area of recycling has been         ethylene) and PS (polystyrene), and         ment, where the subsidiary is based,
built up over a long time together          techniques and criteria to assess           and with a local university, Dowa has
with energy conservation. Tech-             whether collected plastics are suitable     built one of Japan’s largest networks
nologies, programs and businesses           for recycling, or should be incinerated     for the collection and recycling of mo-
have been established, with the spread      or used for heat recovery also need to      bile phones and home electronics.
of such activities evident from house-      be established. This would mean de-               Similarly, Nippon Mining and
holds to offices, factories and even        veloping something very advanced            Metals is pursuing the Hitachi Metal
across towns.                               and highly efficient. By the same
     However, Japan faces other prob-       token, further research and de-
lems, including tightness of the avail-     velopment is needed into tech-
ability of final industrial waste dispos-   niques for extracting rare metals,
al sites and concerns over the future       particularly those found in mo-
exhaustion of mineral resources. It is      bile phones and the like.”
important to solve these environmen-            Precious metals such as gold,
tal and resource constraints, but more      silver and platinum, and rare
important is to trigger new economic        metals such as indium and cobalt,
growth that strikes a balance between       found in mobile phones and
the environment and the economy.            home electronics, form what is
The keyword driving the concept is          called the “urban mine.” Accord-

                                                                                                                                                 TADASHI AIZAWA
the “3Rs.”                                  ing to the National Institute for
     The term “3Rs” is an acronym for       Materials Sciences (NIMS), the
“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”                accumulations of gold, silver and      Japan is the world’s second-biggest
     Specifically, “Reduce” refers to       indium in the form of electronic       user of electricity provided by
increasing the efficiency of resource       components and waste in Japan’s        photovoltaic modules.
use associated with product manufac-        urban mines, are equivalent to
turing, logistics and consumption           16%, 22% and 30% of world re-
through efforts to conserve and extend      serves, respectively. It is important to    Recycling Complex project with a
the useful life of resources, and by        extract and collect these metals be-        capital investment of approximately
working as much as possible to reduce       cause Japan imports most of them            11 billion yen (113 million dollars).
the use of resources in ways that make      from overseas. For this reason, in its      The facilities, in Ibaraki Prefecture,
waste unavoidable. “Reuse” refers to        budget for FY2009, METI has includ-         will collect from waste materials met-
efforts to collect used products and        ed implementation of model projects         als such as gold, silver, copper, anti-
reuse them after they have undergone        to collect discarded small electronic       mony, bismuth and nickel, confirming
the proper treatment, or the utilization    and electrical equipment from users in      the company’s determination to ex-
of reusable components. Lastly,             cooperation with local governments.         pand its Recycling and Environmental
“Recycle” refers to the collection of       The budget will be used to distribute       Services Business, in this case by “ex-
used products or by-products produced       collection boxes to public offices and      ploiting the abundant untapped recy-
in the product manufacturing process,       retailers, select and dissolve compo-       cling resources of cities.”
and using those products as raw mate-       nents and substrates containing rare
rials (materials recycling) or as a         metals, and analyze their usability. To     Hitoshi Chiba and Osamu Sawaji, The Japan Journal

                                                                                         Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   7
  ENVIRONMENT


The Low-carbon Society
                                                                                                    to cut its own greenhouse gas emis-
                                                                                                    sions by 2050. Nor did the proposal
                                                                                                    clearly specify a base year for measur-
                                                                                                    ing the progress of reductions. Al-


Must Be Sustainable                                                                                 though the initiative was basically
                                                                                                    welcomed, in part because Japan’s re-
                                                                                                    duction targets were not specified, it is
                                                                                                    unlikely that either the Japanese public
Responses to global warming should not be treated as a mere policy                                  or Japanese companies had any con-
                                                                                                    crete sense of how much they had to
issue, writes Kazuhiro Ueta, professor of environmental economics and                               do in order to cut greenhouse gas
public finance at the Graduate School of Economics at Kyoto University,                             emissions. To put it bluntly, there
but as an opportunity to build a new socioeconomic order which makes                                were, perhaps, only a few people who
sustainable development possible on both the global and local levels.                               correctly understood the great signifi-
                                                                                                    cance of the Cool Earth 50 proposal.




D
                                                                                                         Present greenhouse gas emissions
          efining the best policy re-                    an opportunity to build a new socio-       are balanced roughly evenly between
          sponse to global warming.                      economic order which makes sustain-        developed countries and developing
              Any mention of this issue                  able development possible on both the      countries. Let us assume, based on the
          is certain to spark a debate                   global and local levels. It is also in     most optimistic scenarios, that green-
over the choice of environmental poli-                   this context that we should debate the     house gas emissions overall can be
cy instruments and the decision, for                     matter of setting medium-term targets      maintained at present levels even
example, of whether such measures as                     for reducing greenhouse gas emissions      though the economies of developing
emissions trading schemes and eco-                       to the extent possible by 2020, which      countries will undergo substantial de-
taxes should be adopted. The selection                   is our present focus.                      velopment by the year 2050. The Euro-
among environmental policy instru-                                                                  pean Union has been attempting “de-
ments naturally involves decisions                       Targets and Cool Earth 50                  coupling” measures aimed at breaking
that will greatly influence the environ-                                                            the link between economic develop-
mental impact and effectiveness of                       We need to transition to a sustainable,    ment and the associated environmental
those policies. The pros and cons of                     low-carbon society.                        burden (in this case, the volume of
many different policy options should                          Japan’s first venture toward con-     greenhouse gas emissions). From their
be carefully considered. However,                        sidering this effort was the Cool Earth    present position, however, it would
whatever instruments are ultimately to                   50 proposal. The Cool Earth 50 pro-        take a miracle for developing countries
be adopted, clearly defining the crite-                  posal was made by then Prime Minis-        to be able to achieve a scenario. That
ria for choosing among environmental                     ter Abe at the end of May 2007, just       much is clear from the fact that virtual-
policy alternatives will be impossible                   prior to the Heiligendamm Summit.          ly all international organizations project
without showing why and for what                         Based on the principle that all major      that emissions by developing nations
purpose such measures have been ad-                      greenhouse-gas emitting nations            are set to increase substantially.
opted, which is to say, without defin-                   should participate, the proposal set a          But it’s here that the problems
ing the goals and targets of environ-                    long-term target of cutting worldwide      begin. Even if this miracle could be
mental policy. We need to go even                        greenhouse gas emissions in half from      achieved, the question remains how
further and ask what kind of society                     present levels by the year 2050.           far the developed countries would
will result if these policy instruments                       However, while the Cool Earth 50      have to cut their own emissions before
are effective.                                           initiative proposed a target of reducing   global emissions could be reduced by
     This approach treats global warm-                   global emissions by half, there was no     half. It immediately becomes apparent
ing not as a mere policy issue but as                    mention of how much Japan intended         that worldwide greenhouse gas emis-
                                                                                                    sions could not be halved unless the
                                                                                                    emissions of developed countries
                                                                                                    were cut to zero. This means that
One could say that the problem of setting                                                           achieving the targets of the Cool
intermediate-term targets for preventing global warming                                             Earth 50 proposal would require that
                                                                                                    developed countries build societies
amounts to a question of whether or not the costs required                                          having virtually no greenhouse gas
to achieve the targets set are prohibitively high for the                                           emissions through the year 2050. It
                                                                                                    was to be expected that the United
society in question. Determining which strategy to adopt in                                         Kingdom and Germany both an-
addressing global warming therefore involves a choice                                               nounced targets aimed at slashing
                                                                                                    emissions and that Japan, in the
among values.                                                                                       Fukuda Vision 2050, announced plans
 8   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
to cut emissions by sixty to eighty        crease in environmental damage costs                      tific perspectives. Reduction targets
percent by the year 2050. Early on,        accompanying each incremental in-                         based on the scientific perspective no
moreover, the Inter governmental           crease in greenhouse gas emissions.                       doubt represent the targets required
Panel on Climate Change pointed out        The marginal abatement cost refers to                     from a purely scientific perspective
the need to dramatically cut the vol-      the additional expense required to                        without reference to the expenses nec-
ume of greenhouse gas emissions, and       bring about each incremental decrease                     essary to achieve the them. The Frame-
I would only add that many scientists      in greenhouse gas emissions.) In reali-                   work Convention on Climate Change
support this view.                         ty, however, it is by no means easy to                    originally adopted the perspective of
                                           accurately measure the marginal dam-                      precautionary principle. This principle
Innovation and Revolution                  age costs associated with global warm-                    states, with respect to problems
                                           ing. Moreover, partly because the enti-                   involving a high degree of uncertainty
Transitioning to a low-carbon society      ties incurring environmental damage                       but also the potential for catastrophic
cannot be accomplished without             are different from the entities causing                   damage, that preventative measures
breaking from our energy system cen-       the environmental damage, some ob-                        should be taken so long as taking them
tered on fossil fuels and fundamentally    servers argue that target levels should                   does not involve unbearable expense
transforming our production and a          not be set merely on the basis of effi-                   for the society in question. In short,
consumption system, which is depen-        ciency. In particular, it should be born                  one could say that the problem of set-
dent on fossil fuels. Such an effort       in mind that, in addition to achieving a                  ting intermediate- term targets for
would represent a transition in the his-
tory of civilization rivaling the indus-
trial revolution. In short, preventing         Cost to Cut Greenhouse Gases by Japanese companies
global warming is not the kind of                                          6,000
challenge which can be achieved
merely by maximizing conservation
efforts while maintaining the present                                      4,000
socioeconomic system. Rather, the
task must be understood as one of in-
                                               Net cost (in million yen)




novation, one of creating the technol-                                     2,000
ogy and social institutions making it
possible to prevent global warming
and of building a new socioeconomic                                            0
system which supports that effort. One
might also say this is an obligation
which the present generation has to
                                                                           -2,000
future generations.
     With regard to the 2020 medium-
term targets, the EU already proposed
that it would cut emissions by twenty                                      -4,000
percent from 1990 levels on its own                                                 0   100   200                300              400                500
and proposed a thirty percent reduc-                                                             Cut (in kilo CO2 ton)
tion target if other developed countries       Note: Dots under the zero line (for no net cost) indicate those companies that made profits by cutting CO2
cooperated. The Japanese government            emissions. Dots (companies) above the zero line made a loss.
also began considering medium-term             Source: Seiji Ikkatai et al.

targets but in the ensuing debate it was
argued that attempting to achieve cuts
along the lines of those of the EU         balance in the global warming issue                       preventing global warming amounts to
would involve massive costs and sub-       between North and South, another                          a question of whether or not the costs
stantially damage the economy.             problem is that of the balance between                    required to achieve the targets set are
     Let us therefore consider the rela-   generations, since future generations                     prohibitively high for the society
tionship between policy targets and        will suffer the damage.                                   in question. Determining which strate-
cost burdens. From the standpoint of                                                                 gy to adopt in addressing global
efficiency, the global warming policy      A “Towel Wrung Dry”?                                      warming therefore involves a choice
target is defined as the point where the                                                             among values.
curve representing the marginal dam-       Accordingly, the grounds for deter-                           If the slope of the rising marginal
age costs associated with global warm-     mining how to establish the present                       abatement cost curve for greenhouse
ing intersects with the curve represent-   medium-term targets should not be                         gas emissions is mild, then the addi-
ing the marginal abatement costs of        economics but the approach set forth                      tional abatement costs could be less.
greenhouse gas emissions. (The mar-        in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report                      In short, the cost required to cut green-
ginal damage cost refers to the in-        which represents a collection of scien-                   house gases is largely dependent on
                                                                                                 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue     9
  ENVIRONMENT

The goal of preventing global warming must be                                                         house gases of advanced industrialized
                                                                                                      countries, such clearly defined targets
incorporated into monodzukuri (manufacturing), town                                                   and the greenhouse gas prevention
planning and lifestyle planning, and all of these must then                                           measures based on them will provide
                                                                                                      a future model for developing nations.
be pursued in a coordinated fashion. These respective                                                 This is a critical point. The model
efforts will encourage each other, and a Japanese model                                               which the advanced nations propose
                                                                                                      must be one in which, while reducing
will be born from the innovative creation of a new lifestyle                                          greenhouse gases, can enhance soci-
and technology, as well as the social institutions which                                              etal and economic wealth. If there is
                                                                                                      anything that can enhance the achiev-
support them.                                                                                         ability of this model it will be ensuring
                                                                                                      that developing countries can achieve
                                                                                                      sustainable development in the future.
the shape of the marginal abatement                       of global warming per se, a research             Meanwhile, Japanese global
cost curve.                                               report by Kyushu University Associate       warming prevention measures should
    Two points should be kept in mind                     Professor Nobuhiro Horii showed that        be approached with a view to resolv-
here. The first concerns the problem                      domestic Chinese production of de-          ing the socioeconomic problems fac-
of accurately estimating marginal                         sulferization equipment has moved           ing Japan. What Japan needs to
abatement costs. From time to time                        ahead very rapidly, with the price per      achieve is a sustainable, low-carbon
the analogy of a “wrung out towel”                        kilowatt falling dramatically, or from      society. Building a low-carbon society
has been used, and it has been said                       the 800–1,300 RMB/kW range in               is a necessary but not sufficient condi-
that the greenhouse gas emission mar-                     2000 to under 100 RMB/kW by the             tion for the sustainable society we
ginal abatement costs for Japanese                        end of 2006. The price reduction may        must achieve. If measures to cut green-
companies are already very high. How-                     be seen as having resulted from             house gas emissions and prevent
ever, according to the research of                        market competition in the sphere of         global warming are implemented in
Kyoto University Professor Seiji                          technological development, the com-         such a way that local economies suf-
Ikkatai et al, if anything, the reverse is                petition resulting in turn from the pre-    fer, the will to pursue them will not
true. Based on field interviews and                       sentation of clear policy targets and       build and the measures themselves will
data gathered from environmental re-                      instruments and the building of the         not succeed.
ports and financial statements made                       necessary institutional framework.               The goal of preventing global
public by about 200 companies in fif-                     Well-known examples of the effect           warming must be incorporated into
teen major industries, researchers ana-                   which environmental polices have in         monodzukuri (manufacturing), town
lyzed some 1,000 panel data sets from                     inducing technological innovation in-       planning and lifestyle planning, and
1999 through 2006 and found that                          clude those associated with auto-gus        all of these must then be pursued in a
greenhouse gas emission marginal                          regulations in Japan, an effect that has    coordinated fashion. These respective
abatement costs were minus 6,800 yen                      been described through the Porter hy-       efforts will encourage each other, and
(see figure). These findings indicate                     pothesis. In environmental policy,          a Japanese model will be born from
that the energy saving efforts made by                    what are needed are institutions and        the innovative creation of a new life-
Japanese companies remain within a                        policies which enhance dynamic effi-        style and technology, as well as the
scope which is profitable, which is to                    ciency rather than static efficiency in a   social institutions which support them.
say, they are only implementing                           point in time.                                   While it is Japan’s responsibility
greenhouse gas reduction measures                                                                     as an advanced industrialized country
which are profitable. A recently re-                      Japan’s Responsibility                      to take the lead in contributing to the
leased report by McKinsey &                                                                           resolution of the difficult worldwide
Company also points out that the                          As is clear from the foregoing, it is       problem of global warming, this same
greenhouse gas emission reduction                         questionable whether intermediate-          effort will yield new know-how and
potential remains large. It seems that                    term targets themselves can ensure          technological assets for preventing
greenhouse gas marginal abatement                         the prevention of global warming. At        global warming and will further
costs should be studied not only by                       the same time, the impact of those          Japan’s national interests. Such a
using model analysis but also by ex-                      targets as a signal for how business        model will stimulate corporate activi-
amining actual conditions in detail.                      firms and the public should respond         ties based on sustainability and lead to
    Secondly, the effect of reducing                      with respect to global warming is also      a sustainable, low-carbon society,
marginal abatement costs through ad-                      of great importance. Clear signals will     helping to strengthen the Japanese
vances in technology must be consid-                      increase confidence in investments,         economy qualitatively.
ered in conjunction with the fact that                    and if combined with “Green New
the prevention of global warming will                     Deal” public policies, will have con-
                                                                                                      Kazuhiro Ueta is a professor of environmental economics and
become a long-term issue. Although                        siderable impact.                           public finance at the Graduate School of Global Environmental
the immediate goal was not prevention                         In addition to reducing the green-      Studies, Kyoto University.

 10   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
  ENVIRONMENT


Roads Open for Electric Vehicles
The first electric vehicle was built in Great Britain in 1886, five years               itations or infrastructure issues. Some
                                                                                        Western car manufacturers abandoned
before the first gasoline powered automobile appeared. However, it was                  their bid to develop electric vehicles
gasoline engines that entered widespread use, since electric vehicles                   and focused on R&D of fuel cells, es-
had battery problems and a shorter range with poor dynamic                              tablishing a trend towards fuel cell ve-
performance. About a century later, a new era of electric vehicles                      hicles since 2002. After the shift of the
                                                                                        Japanese government towards fuel
dawned when the United States planned to introduce severe emission                      cells, fuel cell powered vehicles look
controls in 1990. Keio University Professor Hisashi Ishitani analyzes                   likely to be commercialized quickly.
the today and tomorrow of electric vehicles.                                            However, fuel cells had their own dif-
                                                                                        ficulties with cost, hydrogen storage




W
                                                                                        and refueling infrastructure. Before the
             hen the electric vehicle     1990. This U.S. state introduced a            necessary technical advancements
             came into being at the end   regulation that obliged any automobile        could be made, lithium-ion batteries
             of the nineteenth century,   manufacturer with a high sales volume         made their own progress to draw at-
             gasoline powered vehicles    to ensure that zero-emission vehicles         tention for potential applications with
also appeared and a hybrid propulsion     account for at least two percent of its       electric vehicles. Another factor that
automobile was created. However,          production in 1998–2000, five percent         accelerated the progress of electric ve-
electric vehicles had problems associ-    in 2001 and 2002 and 10% from 2003            hicles was the orientation towards a
ated with driving range and batteries.    onwards. To meet this requirement,            departure from a dependency on oil as
Quicker in technical advancement,         car manufacturers began to seriously          an energy security issue. This trend
gasoline vehicles came into more          work on electric vehicle development.         was sparked by carbon dioxide emis-
widespread use. Later, the two oil        The problem with batteries remained           sions control and by the 9/11 terrorist
crises of the 1970s, together with        unsolved, as the final challenge. It was      attacks in the United States.
growing emission issues during the        difficult to find a solution in terms of           With these factors in the back-
age of motorization triggered research    recharging time, durability and price.        ground, hybrid vehicles have been
into electric vehicles and a develop-     As a result, the regulation was relaxed       diffused worldwide, mainly in urban
ment project at the initiative of the     and enforcement was postponed.                areas in Japan and the United States.
Ministry of International Trade and                                                     More over, a U.S. business venture
Industry. However, the development        Full-scale Development of                     modifies hybrid vehicles on the mar-
of electric vehicles remained modest      Electric Vehicles                             ket to be plug-in hybrid electric vehi-
in scale. The performance of lead-                                                      cles with the use of an additional on-
acid batteries failed to improve and      However, the initiatives of those days        board battery. The plug-in model has
the oil crises ended.                     eventually helped bring about a mas-          an all-electric range of 40 to 50 kilo-
    The full-scale research and devel-    sive improvement in the performance           meters per charge, which is sufficient
opment of electricity powered auto-       of electric vehicles. This led to             for daily driving. Plug-in hybrid
mobiles kicked off with California’s      Toyota’s introduction of hybrid elec-         technology is therefore attracting
Zero-Emission Vehicle Regulations in      tric vehicles, which have no range lim-       growing interest, offering as it does
                                                                                        electric driving without concerns
                                                                                        about range limitation.
                                                                                             We now have three major options
                                                                                        when it comes to reducing oil con-
    Japan’s average driving distance is 10,000                                          sumption and CO2 emissions in the
                                                                                        field of road transport: (battery) elec-
    kilometers per year. Japan has a comparatively                                      tric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and fuel
                                                                                        cell vehicles, their effectiveness being
                                                                                        dictated by use pattern or city struc-
    small area and its population is concentrated in                                    ture. For shorter distance driving in
                                                                                        congested areas, such as in the city,
    urban areas. These conditions are suited to the                                     electric vehicles work well, but for
                                                                                        bigger and heavier vehicles and longer
    proliferation of electric vehicles.                                                 distance or higher speed driving, fuel
                                                                                        cell vehicles may be more appropriate.
                                                                                        Plug-in hybrids work well for most
                                                                                     Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   11
                   ENVIRONMENT

                 occasions, although their environmen-                     vehicles. Specifically, they are prob-      hicle range of approximately 500 kilo-
                 tal effects may be limited.                               lems with energy density, cost and du-      meters and to reduce the price of trac-
                      Take Germany for example. The                        rability. Among other things, cost cut-     tion batteries to nearly one fortieth of
                 average driving distance per vehicle is                   ting is essential to the widespread use     the current level by 2030, by inventing
                 16,000 kilometers per year in that                        of electric vehicles. Without cost cuts,    a revolutionary secondary battery
                 country. Located on a continent, many                     electric vehicles cannot compete. How-      characterized by high performance
                 Germans use the autobahn to travel                        ever, after the cost is lowered, there      and low cost. The governmental
                 long distances. Therefore, it does not                    are still constraints on battery perfor-    Council for Science and Technology
                 have very high demand for electric                        mance. Because of this constraint, ap-      Policy evaluates the priority of science
                 vehicles. On the other hand, Japan’s                      plications for electric vehicles are lim-   and technology policies. For fiscal
                 average driving distance is 10,000                        ited to some degree.                        2009, it gave the top priority rating
                 kilometers per year. Japan has a com-                          One major inconsistency is that        solely to basic research on innovative
                 paratively small area and its popula-                     mass production is essential to reduce      power-storing batteries to provide fu-
                 tion is concentrated in urban areas.                      prices, while widespread demand is          ture support for this research.
                 These conditions are suited to the pro-                   essential to mass production. To re-            At the moment, lithium-ion batter-
                 liferation of electric vehicles. Despite                  solve that conundrum, it is important       ies, which account for 60% of the
                                                                           to carry out something like a               worldwide production, still have some
                                                                           community-wide demonstrative trial          problems, but they will be sufficient
                                                                           of electric vehicles as a community         for application to electric vehicles and
                                                                           development initiative. These activi-       plug-in hybrid vehicles mainly used in
                                                                           ties must then evolve into a movement       urban areas if they become cheaper. In
                                                                           towards energy independence with the        other words, the day is coming when
                                                                           objective of attaining significant CO2      electric vehicles will be widely acces-
                                                                           reduction in the future.                    sible. In fact, electric vehicle technol-
                                                                                Many countries are focusing on         ogy is now attracting great attention
                                                                           technical research and development.         as it has advanced to the level of
                                                                           In an effort to boost hybrid vehicles,      widespread application. This means
                                                                           electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and   that the experiments and innovative
                                                                           other types of new-generation auto-         technologies described above are of
                                                                           mobiles, Japan is pursuing research         great importance.



                                                                           The adoption of environmentally friendly cars will
                                                                           be quicker than expected if electric, hybrid, plug-in
                                                                           hybrid and other kinds of vehicles are cleverly
                                                                           introduced for appropriate purposes, such as
                                                                           delivery businesses and private use within urban
                                                                           areas. It is urgent given that volume production is
                                                                           after all a major key to battery price reduction.
TADASHI AIZAWA




                                                                                                          —Keio University Professor Hisashi Ishitani

                 regional differences, it is the aware-                    and development involving innovative        Advantage of
                 ness of the CO2 reduction challenge                       secondary batteries aimed at reducing       Electric Vehicles
                 that underlies the development of                         cost and improving performance, en-
                 electricity-driven vehicles, including                    ergy and power densities. This is part      Basically, electric vehicles are envi-
                 the above three options.                                  of the initiatives to create a low carbon   ronmentally friendly as they emit no
                                                                           society by means of resource and en-        exhaust gases on the road and generate
                 Obstacles to Wider Use of                                 vironmental innovations. The Ministry       no noise. Electric motors also offer
                 Electric Vehicles                                         of Economy, Trade and Industry and          superior acceleration performance. In
                                                                           the New Energy and Industrial Tech-         addition, they have two other signifi-
                 Battery issues have been a lingering                      nology Development Organization             cant advantages that warrant emphasis.
                 challenge since the advent of electric                    (NEDO) aim to achieve an electric ve-           One is the use of electric power
                  12   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
generated at night. In general, electric   result in fuel cost savings ranging             cles could be applied for heavy vehi-
vehicles will be recharged at night and    from 500,000 yen (5,200 dollars) to             cles or bigger long distance drive
nighttime electric power generated         600,000 yen for a lifetime, ten years.          passenger cars. Under the current cir-
from nuclear energy can be used. The       If the battery cost is equivalent to this       cumstances, the adoption of environ-
daily average travel distance is esti-     cost savings, electric vehicles will be         mentally friendly cars will be quicker
mated as some 40 kilometers, by di-        able to rival gasoline-powered auto-            than expected if electric, hybrid,
viding the aforementioned driving dis-     mobiles. Naturally, existing batteries          plug-in hybrid and other kinds of ve-
tance of 10,000 kilometers by 250          cannot fully guarantee a driving range          hicles are cleverly introduced for ap-
days. On the assumption that electric      of 500 kilometers, but they can mostly          propriate purposes, such as delivery
vehicles can travel about 10 kilo-         cover driving for daily use.                    service businesses and private use
meters per kilowatt-hour, this suggests                                                    within urban areas. It is necessary to
that an electric vehicle consumes an       Widespread Use a Solution                       proactively find different applications
average of only four kilowatt-hours a      to Every Problem                                for these vehicles where possible. It
day. Recharging with this amount of                                                        is urgent given that volume produc-
electric power overnight from 11 p.m.      Battery charge exhaustion while driv-           tion is after all a major key to battery
to 5 a.m. requires approximately 800       ing is the greatest risk associated with        price reduction.
watts. Simply put, electric power of       electric vehicles. But even were elec-               Tokyo Electric Power Company,
one kilowatt is sufficient to recharge a   tric vehicles to dominate the roads,            Inc. procured ten electric vehicles for
single electric vehicle. If two million    there would be little need for special          a demonstrative trial. At first they
gasoline-powered vehicles are re-          electric infrastructure facilities. It is       were rarely used, and everyone started
placed with electric vehicles, the         always possible to use a power source           to use them after quick charging sta-
power consumption for recharging is        somewhere in the event of a flat bat-           tions were provided at several points.
merely two million kilowatts.              tery. There are various recharging op-          But in fact, quick charging stations
     This allows electric power suppli-    tions in the case of battery depletion.         were rarely used. This does not mean
ers to benefit from surplus power          One is a quick charging station at the          that they were not needed. Quick
without the need to construct any spe-     roadside. For example, it takes 15              charging facilities are a solution to
cial infrastructure. It marks a major      minutes to recharge the battery of              concerns about battery exhaustion and
difference from hydrogen refueling         Mitsubishi Motor’s compact electric             any distrust in the remaining range in-
stations and adds a major advantage to     vehicle to 60% of its capacity.                 dication. Therein may lie a clue to
electric vehicles. Seeing a great op-           It is not necessary to recharge it to      achieving widespread adoption.
portunity, electric power companies        60%, provided that the destination is                Prices don’t fall without mass pro-
are working hard on this.                  not remote and that it is sufficient to         duction. Market penetration won’t
     Another advantage lies in the ac-     merely store the necessary amount of            happen without price declines. No
tive use of natural energy. Increasingly   electricity. Setting battery exhaustion         mass production begins without a de-
popular as they are, wind power gen-       aside, it is possible that branch offices       cisive factor or confirmation. On the
eration and photovoltaic power gener-      and other recharging points may be              basis of the demonstration test, con-
ation are both susceptible to weather      systematically put in place. Even long-         ducted over nearly two years by the
conditions and they lack stability as      distance travel may be possible with            electric power company, safety has
sources of power. However, stability       frequent recharging every 200 km as             been verified from different perspec-
is secured if power generated from         necessary. In other words, the range of         tives in an effort to facilitate volume
these sources of energy can be stored      sustained driving will be extended by           production. When mass production
and supplied to electric vehicles. If      setting up infrastructural bases on an          lowers electric vehicle prices, prolif-
this becomes a reality, we will take a     area-by-area basis.                             eration and expansion will accelerate.
major step forward in solving the               With respect to plug-in hybrid ve-         If there are one or more problems with
problems with exhaust gas, carbon di-      hicles, the pure electric mode, or elec-        the cars, ongoing technical develop-
oxide and the energy shift from oil. A     trically assisted blend mode, could             ment to produce more advanced tech-
key to realization is the battery price.   meet demand for driving about 50 kilo-          nologies will respond. Yet electric ve-
There will be no breakthrough without      meters within an urban area. They can           hicles could find themselves without a
a considerable price decline.              be used in normal hybrid drive mode             future should any serious technical
     If it is assumed that gasoline pow-   for long-distance weekend trips. A              problem arise after the vehicles are
ered vehicles and electric vehicles are    person traveling a long distance can            launched and while their cost remains
produced using the same system and         drive a hybrid vehicle while another            high. In this respect, government poli-
in the same volume, there is little dif-   person traveling a short distance can           cy must provide strong support, not
ference in cost between the two types      use an electric vehicle. If this mode of        only in terms of financial aid, but also
of cars, except in the battery cost.       use is taken into consideration, it can         for establishing safety or performance
Even so, electric vehicles do not incur    be said that electric vehicles are al-          codes and standards.
heavy electric power costs, as dis-        ready practical, even in view of their
cussed above. Replacement of a gaso-       battery performance.                            Hisashi Ishitani is a professor in the School of Media and
line vehicle with an electric one will          On the other hand, fuel cell vehi-         Governance at Keio University.

                                                                                        Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue               13
  ENVIRONMENT


Innovate, Disseminate
                                                                                                     aluminum and power generation and
                                                                                                     identified technology that needs to be
                                                                                                     transferred based on public-private in-
                                                                                                     volvement, the APP has made a posi-
                                                                                                     tive contribution to essential technical
Jun Arima, deputy director-general for environmental affairs at the                                  cooperation in key sectors. The pro-
                                                                                                     posed AGSTC aims at incorporating
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, elucidates the two approaches                               APP-type public-private partnership
—dissemination of clean and efficient energy technology, and                                         in the post-2012 framework.
development of innovative energy technologies—which Japan is taking
to create a low-carbon society both domestically and around the world.                               International Cooperation




T
                                                                                                     As stressed by Japan at last year’s G8
        hanks to the country’s world-                     major developing countries in the          summit, it is clear that the world will
        leading energy-saving and en-                     global efforts for reducing GHG emis-      not be able to achieve a 50% reduc-
        vironmental energy technolo-                      sions. While it would still be difficult   tion in greenhouse gas emissions by
        gy, Japan has been achieving                      for such countries to set absolute         2050 using existing technologies
remarkable performance in terms of                        emissions reduction targets like the       alone. It will therefore be crucial to
low carbon intensity and high energy                      ones for developed countries, setting      develop genuinely innovative technol-
efficiency. A 2005 OECD survey put                        intensity targets for key sectors (for     ogies. However, such technologies
Japan’s CO 2 emissions on a GDP                           example, CO2 emissions per unit ton        could not be developed by private
basis at 0.24 (kilograms of CO2 emit-                     of steel production or thermal effi-       sectors alone due to their long-lead
ted per dollar of GDP), compared to                       ciency of coal-fired power plants)         time and high risk. It is therefore vital
0.43 for the EU (twenty-seven coun-                       could be envisaged because it does not     for governments to step in and play a
tries) and 0.53 for the United States.                    impose constraint on economic activi-      leading role.
Emerging countries India and China                        ties and could be compatible with eco-          Despite the crucial role of
meanwhile scored 1.78 and 2.68 re-                        nomic growth and energy security. It       government-funded research and de-
spectively. Similarly, compared to                        goes without saying that the efforts of    velopment, government spending on
Japan’s rate of primary energy supply                     such countries for achieving their in-     energy-related research and develop-
on a GDP basis (its energy efficiency),                   tensity targets need to be supported by    ment amongst International Energy
Japan’s energy efficiency is roughly                      technology transfer and financial as-      Agency (IEA) member countries
twice as high as that in the European                     sistance where necessary. Since inten-     peaked in the mid 1980s and has un-
Union and the United States and be-                       sity targets in key sectors are measur-    fortunately more or less halved since
tween eight and nine times as high as                     able, reportable and verifiable, clear     then, due in part to falling oil prices in
that in China and India. If the entire                    linkage could be ensured between the       the wake of the oil crises. Increasing
world could benefit from Japan’s su-                      efforts by developing countries and        R&D spending for key innovative
perior energy-saving and other forms                      the support from developed countries.      technologies in each country is an es-
of low-carbon technology, it would                             Japan believes that, to incorporate   sential condition if the world is to
help considerably reduce emissions on                     sectoral approaches in the post-2012       meet its target of halving greenhouse
a global scale.                                           framework, it would be useful to set       gas emissions. It will also be essential
     In international negotiations on                     up an Advisory Group for Sectoral          to promote international cooperation,
the post-2012 framework, Japan is ad-                     Technology Cooperation (AGSTC)             utilizing such international organiza-
vocating sectoral approaches aiming                       engaging both public and private sec-      tions as the IEA, which could periodi-
at reducing CO 2 emissions by effi-                       tor experts as a part of the post-2012     cally review member countries’ R&D
ciency improvement and wider use of                       framework. The main reason for this        spending plans, help member coun-
non-carbon energy in key sectors such                     proposal is that, in practice, only pri-   tries to share roadmaps for key tech-
as iron and steel, cement, aluminum,                      vate sectors have expertise in specify-    nologies and assess the progress of
power generation and road transport.                      ing key technologies in each sector,       various international cooperation ini-
By defining key technologies and as-                      assessing their current penetration in     tiatives for key technologies including
sessing mitigation potential in each                      developing countries and identifying       carbon capture and storage (CCS) and
sector through penetration of such                        bottlenecks. This proposal comes           hydrogen technologies. While current
technologies, sectoral approaches                         from positive experience from the          negotiations tend to focus on technol-
could contribute to fair and equitable                    Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean          ogy transfer rather than technology
target-setting by developed countries                     Development and Climate (APP), an          R&D, given the long-term nature of
and to effective measurable and verifi-                   international initiative made up of        climate change issues, the aspect of
able mitigation actions by developing                     Japan, the United States, China, South     R&D must also be addressed under
countries through technology dissemi-                     Korea, India, Australia and Canada.        the post-2012 framework with due re-
nation. Sectoral approaches are a par-                    Having set up working groups in sec-       gard to the crucial importance of the
ticularly useful tool for engaging                        tors such as iron and steel, cement,       protection of intellectual property
 14   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
rights (IPR).                               Keidanren (Japan Business Federa-
                                            tion). With a view to ensuring envi-
Domestic Policies                           ronmental integrity, their targets are
                                            reviewed and verified by relevant
Action Plan for Achieving a Low-            Government Advisory Councils. They
carbon Society                              can trade emissions quota, Kyoto
Ideas such as these regarding the pro-      credits and “domestic credits” for
motion of existing technology and de-       achieving their targets if necessary.
velopment of innovative technology          “Domestic credits” are issued for cer-
were incorporated into the Action Plan      tified emissions reductions through
for Achieving a Low-carbon Society          joint projects between large compa-
announced in July 2008. The Action          nies participating in the Voluntary
Plan set out targets such as raising the    Action Plan and non-participating en-




                                                                                                                                                            TADASHI AIZAWA
share of “zero-emission power source”       tities such as small and medium-sized
from 40% in 2006 to at least 50% by         companies, farms and schools. As an
2020, expanding photovoltaics (PV)          analogy with CDM between devel-                          Deputy Director-General for
by ten times by 2020 and forty times        oped countries with binding caps and                 Environmental Affairs Jun Arima
by 2030 while halving its cost in three     developing countries without, this
to five years and expanding the share       could be called “domestic CDM.”
of Next Generation Vehicles in new          This is a unique initiative in Japan for       saying that it is of the utmost impor-
car sales from 1/50 to 1/2 by 2020.         exploring mitigation potential in the          tance on the domestic front as well.
                                            whole society, which cannot be found
Non-Fossil Fuel Promotion Law               in the EU emissions trading system.            Carbon Footprint
As a legislative action to achieve the                                                     Visualization of CO2 emissions is also
targets stipulated in the Action Plan,      Model Projects                                 crucial for moving towards low carbon
the Cabinet approved a Bill for             The Ministry of Economy, Trade and             society. Calculating the “carbon foot-
Promoting Non-Fossil Fuel Utilization       Industry has secured a budget of 4 bil-        print” of products is an initiative to
and Efficient Use of Fossil Fuel by         lion yen (41.2 million dollars) for the        this end. It entails working out the
Energy Suppliers in March 2009. This        promotion of advanced community                volume of CO2 emissions throughout
legislation will oblige power supply        development projects aimed at creat-           a given product’s life cycle, from the
companies to increase the share of          ing a low-carbon society based on the          procurement of raw materials right
non-fossil fuels in their total power       concept of involvement from technol-           through to disposal. A trial project
supply in line with the target set out in   ogy, communities and local residents.          covering seventy-five products made
the above Action Plan. In addition,         The Ministry opened up submissions             by twenty companies, including Tesco
with a view to expanding PV, the leg-       for ideas, with an envisioned budget of        (supermarket chain) and Coca-Cola, is
islation will also oblige power-supply      around 200 million yen (2 million dol-         already underway in the United
companies to purchase surplus power         lars) per project, and received over           Kingdom, with similar projects being
generated from PV installed by house-       200 responses. The thirty-seven proj-          carried out in countries such as
holds at a fixed preferential price for     ects selected as a result include a num-       Germany and France. In Japan, an
ten years, roughly doubling the cur-        ber of experimental initiatives, such as       even larger project is underway as evi-
rent purchase price under a voluntary       a project to install rapid charging sta-       denced by the trial carbon footprint
program. Obligation will also be im-        tions for electric vehicles and a project      products, ranging from retail to con-
posed on oil and gas suppliers to use       to use water to dissolve and fix CO2           sumer goods, exhibited by the thirty-
biofuel and biogas as well as utilizing     emitted from thermal power stations.           plus manufacturers taking part in the
crude oil and natural gas in an effi-            The aim of projects such as these         Eco-Products Exhibition in December
cient manner.                               is to conduct experimental trials in an        last year. The government is working
                                            effort to incorporate ideas into broader       on the international standardization of
Emissions Trading                           social systems based on cooperation            a carbon footprint scheme under the
With a view to enhancing Japanese in-       between industrial, academic and gov-          International Standardization Organi-
dustry’s contribution to creating a         ernment bodies, local participation            zation (ISO). Visualizing CO2 emis-
low-carbon society, Japan has               and technology. Projects will therefore        sions so as to influence choices made
launched the experimental introduc-         need to harness both innovative and            by consumers, in markets both at
tion of an integrated domestic market       existing technology and be nurtured as         home and overseas, will be another
for emissions trading. In this scheme,      model initiatives. Although the impor-         vital element in the quest to create a
participating companies will set their      tance of transferring existing technol-        low-carbon society.
own targets (for example, absolute          ogy and developing innovative tech-
emissions target or intensity target)       nology may have already been
                                                                                           Jun Arima is deputy director-general for environmental affairs
consistent with the Voluntary Action        stressed within the context of interna-        at the Industrial Science and Technology Policy and
Plan on the Environment of Nippon           tional negotiations, it goes without           Environment Bureau, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

                                                                                        Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue            15
  ENVIRONMENT


Cap-and-Trade:
                                                                                                                     in excess of those targets or achieve
                                                                                                                     those targets by utilizing credit trans-
                                                                                                                     actions; the other is the mechanism
                                                                                                                     whereby those credits are generated


Does It Fit Japan?
                                                                                                                     and traded. Credits are generated as
                                                                                                                     additional reduction parts by reduction
                                                                                                                     activity involving small and medium-
                                                                                                                     sized enterprises, forestry biomass, and
A trial implementation of an integrated domestic market for emissions                                                so forth. In order to form an integrated
                                                                                                                     domestic market, each type of emis-
trading—so-called cap-and-trade—commenced in Japan in October                                                        sions quota or credit can be appropri-
2008, under the auspices of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of the                                                 ated as equivalent to an achieved tar-
Environment and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Japan                                                   get, and a price index or such like in
Journal investigates.                                                                                                respect of trading provided.
                                                                                                                         According to the Ministry of the




T
                                                                                                                     Environment, a total of 528 firms and
         he trial implementation of an                    States adopting it from 2009. Speeches                     organizations (as of February 2009)
         integrated domestic market for                   and other messages delivered by                            are participating in this trial, of which
         emissions trading (hereafter,                    President Barack Obama indicate that                       455 are participating by setting emis-
         trial implementation) aims to                    emissions trading in the form of cap-                      sion quota targets, 60 by credit trans-
create a market based on effective                        and-trade will in the future be rolled                     actions, and 13 in some other way. Of
rules and vigorous actual demand that                     out throughout the entire United                           these, the 455 firms who have set re-
places a market price on CO2. The aim                     States, and the scheme is in the pro-                      duction targets include steel, automo-
is to utilize the experience gained                       cess of being adopted by all countries                     bile manufacture, chemistry, rubber,
from the trial implementation to clari-                   as a countermeasure for the reduction                      electrical and electronic, trading com-
fy the requisite conditions, system de-                   of domestic emissions.                                     panies and convenience stores, paper
sign challenges, and so forth in the                                                                                 manufacture, cement, electricity, and
case of a full-scale introduction of                      Implementation                                             oil refining. With approximately 70
emissions trading. A further aim of the                   Mechanism                                                  per cent of the industrial sector partici-
trial implementation is to consider                                                                                  pating, this constitutes a large-scale
what type of system would be a good                       The trial implementation comprises                         implementation in terms of overall
fit for Japanese industry, which is cen-                  two mechanisms. One is where partic-                       emissions. Sixty companies participate
tered on technology and monodzukuri,                      ipating firms and so forth set reduction                   through transactions, such as banks,
and to demonstrate leadership in the                      targets, and achieve emissions quotas                      trading companies, and such like, as-
arena of international rule-making.
     2008 saw the beginning of a
heightened interest in respect of the                     Outline of Japan’s Voluntary Emissions Trading Scheme (JVETS)
framework for greenhouse gas emis-
sions reduction from 2013, when the                                                                                    Adjustment through
Kyoto Protocol ends. At the Hokkaido                                   Commitment of CO2                              emissions trading after
Toyako Summit the need for substan-                                    emissions reduction                             commitment period
tial emissions reductions in the future
emerged, and a joint declaration was                        Expected
even made to halve emissions by                           amount of
2050. Debate flourished on the subject                     emissions
                                                           reduction                                                                                     Amount of JPAs
of the need to consider emissions trad-                       during                                                                                     and jCERs
ing as a domestic countermeasure.                            FY2006                                                                                      acquired through
                                                                                                                                                         emissions trading
     Emissions trading is a method that
uses capping to keep down total
greenhouse gas emissions, thus keep-                                                                                                                     Amount of
                                                                                                                                                         JPAs initially
ing expenditure on countermeasures                                                                                                                       allocated
low, and as such is a policy instrument
that reduces total emissions steadily
and efficiently.                                                   Average of verified     Initial allocation of       Verified amount Amount of JPAs
                                                                  CO2 emissions during              JPAs               of CO2 emissions   and jCERs
     The first to introduce emissions                               FY2002–FY2004                                       during FY2006   needed to be
trading was the European Union in                                 =Base year emissions                                                  retired in the
2005, followed by partial introduction                                                                                                     registry
by New Zealand, then Australia, and                       Note: JPAs = Japan Allowances; initially purchased from other participating corporations
Canada, with some states in the United                          jCERs = Certified Emissions Reductions under the JVETS scheme

 16   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
Should Japan wish to introduce                                                             to create a mechanism with inter-
                                                                                           national currency, efforts have been
cap-and-trade, further debate is necessary.                                                made to ensure its compatibility with
                                                                                           ISO and other international specifica-
However, if it does, the technical                                                         tions. By drawing up guidelines based
                                                                                           in particular on ISO regulations, hav-
preparations have been put in place.                                                       ing verifications carried out by third
                                                                                           party verifying bodies, and so forth,
                                                                                           Japan has achieved through JVETS
suming the role of balancing supply         implementation will end. The govern-           over and above regular results. The
and demand. The remaining thirteen          ment will determine emissions until the        Ministry of the Environment has in its
companies, for example sectors and          summer, then will take follow-up ac-           own right accumulated knowledge as
companies that have no Voluntary            tion from early fall onward. The above         one option for the future.
Action Plan, are participating in order     points for evaluation are based on the
to redeploy the reduction effect itself     Fukuda Vision announced by Prime               There Is More than
to companies that have declared tar-        Minister Fukuda in June 2008, prior to         One Path
gets. While Nippon Keidanren has es-        the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, and on
tablished a Voluntary Action Plan, in-      the content of specific countermeasures        Regarding the points of emissions
dividual firms do not necessarily have      for Toward Japan as a Low-Carbon               trading, one is target-setting, that is
their own targets. The players in emis-     Society declared at the Summit.                who is it aimed at and what the target
sions trading are, in principle, individ-                                                  level should be. The second is how to
ual firms. The Ministry of the              JVETS                                          ascertain emissions, in other words
Environment is appealing to Nippon                                                         how to accurately measure emissions,
Keidanren to hand over the targets of       The JVETS (Japan’s Voluntary                   for which a credible mechanism is re-
the Voluntary Action Plan to individu-      Emissions Trading Scheme) is an ini-           quired for monitoring and verifica-
al firms, in other words, to participate    tiative that preceded and led to the           tion. And the third is, in the case auc-
in the trial implementation. The gov-       current trial implementation. Begun in         tions are used, how the revenue is to
ernment will intermittently call for the    2005, it is a subsidy scheme, and does         be used.
participation of companies and organi-      not seek to disseminate emissions                   Currently, both JVETS and the
zations each year until the end of the      trading nationwide. Nevertheless to            trial implementation are initiatives for
trial period in 2012.                       date a total of 222 companies have             which participation and target setting
                                            participated, and in FY2007 reduc-             is voluntary, and the government im-
Evaluation and Follow-up                    tions in emissions of approximately            poses no obligations. Should Japan
                                            25% (280,192 t-CO2) compared with              wish to introduce cap-and-trade, fur-
Regarding the initiatives of companies      the base year (average value for past          ther debate is necessary. However, if
participating in the trial implementa-      three years) were achieved. The                it does, the technical preparations have
tion, the government considers and          Ministry of the Environment provides           been put in place.
evaluates the following points: (1)         subsidies for companies and organiza-               Ultimately, the means are not im-
Was it effective in leading to reduc-       tions that participate in JVETS, while         portant. Both cap-and-trade and a sec-
tion efforts and technological develop-     companies declare their total emissions        toral approach would work, as would
ment, in terms of an appropriate fit        targets, and take practical measures to        an environmental tax. Globally, the
with Japanese industry, which centers       advance the introduction of facilities         trend is toward cap-and- trade, but in
on technology and monodzukuri? (2)          to combat global warming. Since it is          Japan numerous approaches exist.
Did the market mechanism function           a subsidy scheme, participating com-           This is a trial implementation to dis-
appropriately, for example smooth           panies have a duty to meet their com-          cern what conditions need to be in
transactions and price discovery? At        mitment. Should they fail to meet their        place in the case of a full-scale imple-
the same time, were there no adverse        commitment, it is possible to offset           mentation of cap-and-trade, as ex-
effects as a result of money games?         this using transactions between partic-        pressed in the Fukuda Vision, and the
(3) Did the system function securely        ipating companies.                             challenges to be overcome when de-
and smoothly in respect of, for exam-            The aim of this initiative is to en-      signing the system.
ple, the issue and control of emissions     able participating companies to train               Globally, the goal is to halve
quotas and credits, and confirmation        and experiment in the area of emis-            greenhouse gas emissions by the year
of voluntary targets met? (4) What          sions trading, and to enable the gov-          2050, while in Japan the goal is a re-
was the level of implementation costs       ernment to put in place environmental          duction of 60–80%. Japan is currently
for participants (transactions, monitor-    infrastructure, establish emissions            attempting to explore a number of
ing, verification, etc.)? and, (5) Was      measurement guidelines, and establish          routes toward this goal, and ensure the
any knowledge gained that could con-        emissions quota controls (registry)            security of those routes.
tribute to international rule-making?       that will be required when it is intro-
    In March, the first year of the trial   duced full-scale in the future. In order       Hitoshi Chiba, The Japan Journal

                                                                                        Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   17
  ENVIRONMENT


Carbon Offset Solutions
Carbon offsetting—self-initiated activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—has now commenced in
Japan. The Japan Journal asked Professor Hironori Hamanaka, chair of the Institute for Global Environmental
Strategies Board of Directors, for his views on the challenges ahead.
Please give us the background to the                      contribute to CO2 reduction. The first       being incorporated into businesses.
carbon offsetting movement.                               is reducing the carbon footprint from        The fact that mainstream divisions of
                                                          power generation and other forms of          companies have started addressing
Emissions of CO 2 and other green-                        energy. In other words, nuclear              carbon offsetting, which was initially
house gases cannot be avoided com-                        power, hydraulic power or renewable          treated like CSR, seems to predict that
pletely in our daily lives and economic                   energy should be used more to reduce         the movement will grow into a major
activities, even if we strive to reduce                   dependency on fossil fuels. The sec-         one in the future. In order for the
them. The concept of carbon offsetting                    ond factor is conserving energy in           movement to take root, carbon foot-
is one of investing in greenhouse gas                     households and offices such as the           prints need to be clarified as discussed
reduction activities at a level com-                      energy consumed for lights, air con-         above. Otherwise the trend will just be
mensurate with the unavoidable emis-                      ditioners and appliances. And the            a temporary development, and no on-
sion volume, to compensate for it. We                     third factor is lifestyle. This refers to    going actions will result.
therefore need to establish the amount                    reviewing and changing what one has               Times are certainly changing. For
of greenhouse gas emissions that ac-                      taken for granted, for instance              example, even though crude oil and
company each activity. This is referred                   switching to bicycles or walking             gasoline prices, which surged last
to as the carbon footprint, and it is a                   rather than taking the car when travel-      year, later returned to their previous
prerequisite for carbon offsetting. The                   ing short distances.                         levels and stabilized, people are no
carbon footprint refers to measures                            It is relatively easy to formulate      longer depending on cars as they did
such as a manufacturer disclosing the                     policies for the first two, but lifestyles   before, and a greater number of peo-
amount of CO2 emissions in the life-                      derive from each individual’s sense of       ple are now purchasing or considering
cycle of a product, or the greenhouse                     values. In this regard, individuals need     the purchase of hybrid cars. In this re-
gases emitted before their products are                   to take self-initiated and voluntary ac-     gard, the current economic crisis
displayed in stores. More citizens and                    tions to reduce their carbon footprint,      could lead to the reduction of future
companies are expected to get to know                     by attempting to conserve energy and         greenhouse gases.
the amount of greenhouse gases that                       deviate from power generation meth-               If CO 2 emission volumes are
have been emitted by purchasing or                        ods that emit carbon dioxide. If carbon      made clearly visible with the carbon
consuming these p ro du c ts , an d                       offsetting worked to remind people           footprint, carbon offsetting could
through these activities be aware of                      and provoke such actions, then it            spur a national movement just like
the emissions and try to reduce them                      would be very meaningful.                    energy conservation. Associated par-
in their daily lives.                                                                                  ties need to create an environment for
     Carbon offsetting measures are                       What potential do you see for                this purpose and expand on the cur-
now being offered in the United                           carbon offsetting?                           rent trend.
Kingdom and other countries in the
West. These activities have also been                     In Japan, environmental improvement          Companies still seem to regard
disseminated in the private sector in                     measures such as energy and resource         environmental measures as costs.
Japan, but they are not directly related                  conservation, as well as the acquisition     What do you say to this?
to the abligation to reduce CO2 emis-                     of ISO certificates, have been actively
sions in the Kyoto Protocol. Rather,                      pursued mainly by the environmental          The environmental management sys-
carbon offsetting consists of self-initi-                 administrative divisions of companies.       tems of the ISO14001 series have al-
ated activities to reduce greenhouse                      Today, the trend has spread to product       ready been disseminated among com-
gases, or voluntary actions by compa-                     planning with carbon offsetting.             panies, so many of them satisfy the
nies and individuals that genuinely                       Product planning and other divisions         requirements for energy conserva-
aim to achieve carbon neutrality in                       have displayed narrative-type descrip-       tion, recycling and reuse. In many
the future.                                               tions of carbon offsetting associated        cases, companies try to eliminate the
                                                          with tree planting, forest conservation      negative aspects of corporate and
How does carbon offsetting contribute                     and other activities being undertaken        business activities. However, the in-
to CO2 reduction?                                         by the company.                              trinsic mission of companies is to
                                                              This indicates that a new element        manufacture products or develop ser-
There are said to be three factors that                   called the environment has started           vices of the highest possible quality
 18   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
    If CO2 emission volumes are made
            clearly visible with the carbon
      footprint, carbon offsetting could
           spur a national movement just
                      like energy conservation.
       Associated parties need to create
        an environment for this purpose
       and expand on the current trend.

                      —Professor Hironori Hamanaka,
                   chair of the IGES Board of Directors




                                                                                                                                               TADASHI AIZAWA
and offer them to the public. By inte-    made to make the electrical power              investment is now known
grating environmental measures with       sector carbon-free.                            throughout the world, but the
this mission, companies can respond           In Japan, a bill for a Feed-in Tariff      financial crisis has gravely affected
to the needs of our times and society.    Law has been approved by Cabinet,              the situation. What are your views
This is known as environmental busi-      which stipulates a cost of about 50 yen        on this matter?
ness administration.                      (50 cents) to purchase 1 kW of elec-
    For example, there are companies      tricity produced by a home photo-              It is essential to build a new economic
that spent money on introducing recy-     voltaic unit. This will be about double        model for the twenty-first century,
cled components, and began making a       the charge for household electricity           rather than rebuilding the economy of
profit within several years. There are    when the Law takes effect.                     the twentieth century. The new system
other companies that recognize em-            In 2008, the then Prime Minister           should enable the economy, energy,
ployees who try to incorporate envi-      Fukuda announced the Fukuda Vision,            environment, climatic and global
ronmental measures into business ac-      and the Cabinet approved the Action            warming issues to be addressed at the
tivities, to initiate a company-wide      Plan for Achieving a Low-carbon                same time. The threat of global warm-
movement. There are yet more com-         Society at the end of July. For exam-          ing does not go away even in an eco-
panies that attempt to reduce the car-    ple, the target of increasing the              nomic crisis, and energy will not last
bon footprint of their business activi-   amount of solar power generation to            if it is used in the same ways as be-
ties and announce their target of         forty times the current level by 2030          fore. An economic vision needs to be
reducing it to zero. A movement has       is an ambitious, innovative target. If         formulated to simultaneously resolve
started whereby each organizational       momentum builds, the actual amount             these issues that are common to
unit aims for carbon neutrality, be it    might become even greater. There               human society.
the local government, a company or        could come a time when more than                    To achieve a low-carbon society,
the national government.                  half of the private houses in Japan are        we need to set an ambitious target and
                                          equipped with rooftop solar power              create an atmosphere in which every-
What about national                       generators. By then, cars will run on          one can work toward the goal. Need-
government commitment?                    electricity, and they could even be            less to say, regulations and economic
                                          charged with the electricity produced          incentives also form part of the system
In Norway, for example, the entire        at home using solar power.                     and atmosphere.
nation is working on carbon offset-
ting. In France, attempts are being       The importance of environmental                Interview by Hitoshi Chiba, The Japan Journal

                                                                                      Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   19
                   ECONOMY


                 Time Now Ripe for Free
                                                                                                                    Australia, which is now under negotia-
                                                                                                                    tion. To sign this, Japan has to liberal-
                                                                                                                    ize its agriculture sector. Japan should
                                                                                                                    press ahead with its liberalization and

                 Trade and Investment                                                                               structural reform, centering on agri-
                                                                                                                    culture, and should play a leading role
                                                                                                                    in the establishment of a free-trade
                                                                                                                    agreement among the countries in the
                 Japan’s trade policies have been developed with a primary focus on East                            ASEAN + 6 group. In 2005, these na-
                                                                                                                    tions combined accounted for a quar-
                 Asia. The United States, meanwhile, is strengthening the regional APEC                             ter of the world’s gross domestic
                 (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) framework as well as pursuing                                  product (GDP) and a half of the
                 free-trade agreements (FTA) with more and more individual countries.                               world’s population. Among the
                 2009 will mark twenty years since the formation of APEC. Waseda                                    ASEAN + 3 group, intra-regional pro-
                                                                                                                    duction networks have been built
                 University Professor Shujiro Urata argues that Japan should take                                   through foreign direct investment by
                 advantage of this opportunity to strengthen its free-trade policies.                               multinational enterprises, centering on
                                                                                                                    the machinery industry. The addition




                 J
                                                                                                                    of India, Australia and New Zealand
                         apan has developed its trade                      of an FTA between China and the          will greatly benefit the ASEAN + 3 in
                         policies with a focus on free-                    ASEAN region. These events brought       securing sources of mineral resources
                         trade agreements with East                        about an adjustment in Japan’s trade     and other primary products and in cul-
                         Asian countries. The first free-                  policy in ASEAN from a bilateral ap-     tivating the consumer market in India.
                 trade agreement that Japan concluded                      proach to include a regional approach.        A simulation analysis using a gen-
                 under the bilateral framework recog-                      Japan pushed for the key conclusion      eral equilibrium model shows that
                 nized by the World Trade Organiza-                        of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive         trade liberalization through the forma-
                 tion (WTO) was the FTA with                               Economic Partnership (AJCEP),            tion of an FTA among the ASEAN +
                 Singapore. Until then, Japan had                          which was signed in April 2008 and       6 will push up the GDP of the ASEAN
                 mainly focused on a multilateral trade                    went into effect in December 2008.       + 6 by 2.1 percent. Simulation analy-
                 policy within the General Agreement                       With this Japan has now completed        ses of the ASEAN + 6 FTA and
                 on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and                           FTAs with almost all of the major        ASEAN + 1 FTAs show that the for-
                 WTO. Japan then went on to expand                         countries in ASEAN as well as an         mer will bring the greatest economic
                 its trade policies, mainly focusing on                    FTA covering the entire ASEAN re-        benefit to the ASEAN + 6. It will in-
                 Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and                           gion. Japan has also advocated that      crease Japan’s GDP by 0.5 percent
                 Eco nomic Partnership Agreements                          this agreement be further expanded       (see table).
                 (EPA) with countries in the ASEAN                         into a Comprehen sive Economic
                 region. The external factors that drove                   Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA)         APEC Resurfaces
                 this process were ASEAN’s active                          covering the entire East Asian region,
                 FTA policy based on a “hub and                            including the sixteen countries known    In the midst of this groundswell of
                 spokes” approach and the conclusion                       as ASEAN+6 (the ASEAN countries          FTAs centering on East Asia, we have
                                                                           plus Japan, China, Korea, India,         also seen the resurfacing of APEC.
                                                                           Australia and New Zealand). Japan is     Back in 1989, when the Uruguay
                                                                           now actively working towards achiev-     round of the General Agreement on
                                                                           ing this goal.                           Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had run
                                                                               There are various issues to be re-   aground and movement toward re-
                                                                           solved in order to pursue this goal.     gionalism was underway in Europe,
                                                                           One of them is to revive the FTA ne-     the Asia-Pacific Economic Coopera-
                                                                           gotiations with Korea, where talks are   tion forum (APEC) was established
                                                                           currently stalled. Japan also has to     with the aim of promoting mutual
                                                                           conclude an FTA agreement with           market opening among the region’s


                                                                           [APEC’s next goal] should extend beyond trade
                                                                           liberalization to cover other issues, notably investment
                                                                           liberalization, trade and investment facilitation, and
                                                                           economic and technical cooperation.
TADASHI AIZAWA




                                                                           —Waseda University Professor Shujiro Urata
                  20   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
Impact of East Asian FTAs on GDP (Unit: %)                          United States at the 2006                     ously promoting liberalization and
                 ASEAN+3     (ASEAN+1*)x6     ASEAN+6               APEC meeting, this would                      structural reform.
 Japan               0.4           0.1            0.5               be a free trade agreement                         Acting as the host country for the
 China               4.7           0.2            4.8               (FTA) encompassing all of                     APEC forum in 2010 will offer Japan
 South Korea         3.6           0.2            3.7               APEC’s members. If the                        a good opportunity for enlarging its
 ASEAN               5.7           2.1            5.9
                                                                    FTAAP comes into being, it                    presence in the Asia-Pacific, a region
 India              -0.1           0.5            3.5
 Australia          -0.1           0.2            1.4
                                                                    would create the world’s                      that will have a huge impact on the
 New Zealand        -0.1           0.1            1.9               largest market, surpassing                    nation’s future. On this occasion,
 ASEAN+6             1.7           0.3            2.1               the scale of the Euro pean                    Japan needs to play the central role in
Note: * ASEAN+1 = FTA such as between ASEAN + Japan                 Union (EU).                                   promoting an assessment of the prog-
                                                                                                                  ress made toward the Bogor goal and
                                                      Beyond Trade                                                in securing the selection of APEC’s
countries and contributing to econom-                 Liberalization                                              next goals.
ic growth within the region and                                                                                       As for the next goal, I believe it
around the world. APEC saw its hey-                   Using exports and foreign direct in-                        should extend beyond trade liberaliza-
day in around 1993 to 1994. In 1994,                  vestment as levers, APEC’s members                          tion to cover other issues, notably in-
APEC members agreed with the                          have achieved smooth economic                               vestment liberalization, trade and in-
“Bogor declaration,” which featured                   growth. The region’s economies are in                       vestment facilitation, and economic
specific goals. This declaration was “to              a slump at present because of the                           and technical cooperation. Japan has
pursue free and open trade and invest-                global financial crisis, but if they can                    been taking the initiative in promoting
ment in the Asia-Pacific,” and the                    overcome the crisis and return to the                       cooperation among the ASEAN + 6 in
agreement was that the developed                      growth track, they should be able to                        economic partnership, the environ-
members of APEC would achieve this                    resume smooth growth. Trade and in-                         ment and other areas.
by 2010 with the developing members                   vestment expansion will play a key                              One of Japan’s strengths is its
achieving this goal by 2020.                          role, but for this to occur, liberaliza-                    technology, and in pursuing Japan’s
    However since then, and particu-                  tion and facilitation of trade and in-                      economic and diplomatic policies, I
larly since September 11, 2001, the                   vestment will be indispensable.                             think it is extremely important that
focus of APEC discussions has shifted                     It is generally agreed that because                     Japan should utilize technology, and
from trade and investment to anti-ter-                of agricultural protectionism and other                     particularly technologies relating to
rorism policies and security issues,                  problems, the FTAAP cannot
and interest in the original goals of                 be brought into being in the
liberalizing trade and investment has                 near future. In this situation,      Impact of FTAs on Japan’s GDP
faded. Against this background, there                 some APEC members have               0.9
was an East Asian summit in 2005,                     begun to establish FTAs de-          0.8
                                                                                                         Tariffs    Service barriers
where it appeared that APEC was                       manding high-level liberaliza-       0.7
                                                                                           0.6
moving towards an East Asian frame-                   tion. Four members including         0.5
work that would not include the                       Singapore and Chile have en-         0.4
United States. This led to the revival                tered into one such FTA,             0.3

of APEC under American leadership.                    known as P4. Furthermore, the        0.2
                                                                                           0.1
    The APEC region occupies a                        United States, Australia, and          0
weighty position in the world econo-                  Peru are working towards join-           Japan, China, Korea     ASEAN+3           APEC-OECD          FTAAP
my. As of 2006, it accounted for some                 ing it this year to create the
55% of the world’s gross domestic                     Trans-Pacific Strategic Eco-
product (GDP) and 40% of its popula-                  nomic Partnership Agreement (TPP).                the environment and energy, as a dip-
tion. The high economic growth with-                      If Japan finds itself unable to con-          lomatic policy tool.
in the region has been enabled to a                   clude FTAs with such APEC mem-                             As it prepares for hosting APEC
large extent by this trade in goods and               bers because of its unwillingness to              in 2010, Japan should harmonize its
services and by brisk investment, but                 open its market to agricultural im-               actions with the work underway on
special mention needs to be made of                   ports, it will suffer injury in the form          the Comprehensive Economic
the important position of the United                  of fewer export opportunities. In order           Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA), a
States. This country has offered a                    to avert such a situation, Japan must             regional economic framework, and it
market for the final consumption of                   firmly resolve to liberalize agricultur-          must closely coordinate strategy with
much of the merchandise trade, acted                  al products.                                      other APEC members, particularly
as a competitive provider in service                      Discussions on the liberalization             with Singapore, this year’s host, and
trade, and served as a major supplier                 of agriculture tend to focus solely on            the United States, the host for 2011.
and recipient of investments. In this                 potential damage. Yet it is not only
context, the concept of the Free Trade                possible to alleviate such damage,
                                                                                                        Shujiro Urata is a professor in the Graduate School of
Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is                   Japan could pave the way for a bright-            Asia-Pacific Studies at Waseda University and a faculty fellow
being scrutinized. Proposed by the                    er future for agriculture by simultane-           of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).

                                                                                                              Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue     21
                  ENVIRONMENT


                Energy Efficiency Policies of Japan
                The latest amendments to the Law concerning the Rational Use of                                        tablishes a series of energy efficiency
                                                                                                                       targets that set high standards manu-
                Energy take effect in April 2009. Toshiyuki Sakamoto, director of the                                  facturers need to meet in several years’
                Energy Efficiency and Conservation Division of the Agency for Natural                                  time. So far standards have been es-
                Resources and Energy, explains their significance.                                                     tablished for twenty-one products, in-
                                                                                                                       cluding automobiles, household appli-




                T
                                                                                                                       ances and lighting.
                       he International Energy                            made a significant contribution to en-            In 1999, for example, when the
                       Agency (IEA) estimates that                        ergy efficiency through its voluntary        Top Runner standards for automobiles
                       about 60% of the global poten-                     action plan.                                 were announced, automobile manufac-
                       tial for various technologies to                        The Law concerning the Rational         turers expressed concerns that the
                deliver CO2 reductions between now                        Use of Energy that was passed in 1979        standards were too strict but in the end
                and 2030 will come from energy effi-                      established a framework that requires        this led to a market competition among
                ciency. In developing countries, about                    energy management in manufacturing           automobile manufacturers to reach the
                70% of this potential comes from en-                      and commercial sectors and sets out          goals for the future sooner than others.
                ergy efficiency.                                          energy efficiency standards for houses       In 2002, Mitsubishi Motors announced
                    Over the past thirty years since the                  and buildings, and machinery and             the ambitious target of achieving the
                oil shock, energy efficiency in Japan                     equipment. This law has been recently        2010 goals by 2005. Some other auto-
                has improved by 37% as a result of                        amended every few years, and its             mobile manufacturers followed this
                the concerted efforts of both the public                  frame work now covers all sectors            move, announcing that they would
                and the private sectors. This is due to                   within the economy.                          also reach the goals ahead of schedule.
                energy efficiency initiatives that in-                         For manufacturing and commer-           Then actually these goals were
                volve both regulation and government                      cial sectors, including not only facto-      achieved in 2005, five years earlier
                support. Regulation has been based on                     ries but also office buildings, hospitals,   than the schedule.
                the Law concerning the Rational Use                       department stores and so on, there is a
                of Energy, and government support                         system of designated energy manage-          The Latest Amendments
                has taken the forms of budgetary, tax                     ment sites, which requires improve-
                and financial measures. The budget                        ment of energy use intensity by 1%           Let us now turn to the amendments
                for energy efficiency measures now                        annually, submission of annual reports       to the Law concerning the Rational
                amounts to approximately 100 billion                      on their energy use and investment           Use of Energy that go into effect in
                yen in METI alone. Industry has also                      plans to the Government and assign-          April 2009.
                                                                          ment of a nationally qualified energy            Looking at ratios of the current
                                                                          manager. As a result of the amend-           energy consumption for each sector
                                                                          ments in 2005, transport operators           in Japan to the 1990 level as the base
                                                                          were also added to this regulatory sys-      year, we see that the manufacturing
                                                                          tem with the owners of cargo now             sector remains unchanged at 1.0. The
                                                                          subject to regulations as well. In the       transport sector has increased at 1.2,
                                                                          housing and building sector, regula-         while for the last five or six years this
                                                                          tions have been progressively                sector has continued to decrease en-
                                                                          strengthened, and for the machinery          ergy consumption largely thanks to
                                                                          and equipment sector, the Top Runner         the Top Runner approach. However
                                                                          Program was introduced as part of the        the ratio for commercial and house-
                                                                          1998 amendments. This program es-            hold sectors is 1.4, showing a contin-


                                                                          Companies will now be required to appoint an
                                                                          “energy management supervisor” at the board
                                                                          member level to be responsible for energy
                                                                          management of the whole company.
EICHIRO IWASA




                                                                          —Toshiyuki Sakamoto, director of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation
                                                                          Division of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy

                 22   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
uously increasing trend. Therefore          amount of energy consumed to pro-             tion of a national qualification system
the latest amendments of the law will       duce one crude iron ton, are decided,         for energy managers. Japan’s Law
address these two sectors by strength-      and then these indicators are used to         concerning the Rational Use of
ening the regulations.                      set the target that each company              Energy requires that large-scale facto-
    First, in the business sector, both     should aim for in the medium and              ries appoint an energy manager who
manufacturing and commercial, the           long term. This is the first attempt in       holds the energy management national
regulatory system will be changed           the world to apply sectoral approaches        qualification. At present there are
from site-regulation to company-wide        to national regulations.                      about 5,700 such factories and about
regulation. Before the amendments,              Secondly the amendments pro-              36,000 people who hold the national
whether or not a factory or workplace       mote energy efficiency in the house-          qualification as energy managers. The
is subject to the regulations has been      hold sector by strengthening regula-          reason why there are much more qual-
determined based on the amount of           tions for houses and buildings.               ified people than the regulations re-
energy consumption at an individual         Whereas previously buildings with a           quire is because companies are en-
factory or workplace. This will be          total floor area of more than 2,000           couraging their employees with a wide
changed to a new regulatory system          square meters were required to report         range of age or rank to take this na-
where if the total energy consumption       individual energy conservation mea-           tional qualification in order to improve
for the entire company is above a cer-      sures to the authority, this requirement      their energy efficiency skills and
tain level, then the entire company         will now be extended to buildings             deepen their understanding of energy
will be subject to regulation. One fea-     with 300 square meters of floor space         management, regardless of what is
ture of the commercial sector is that       or more. In addition, a “Housing Top          needed in order to comply with the
the energy consumption of individual        Runner Standard” will be introduced           regulations. This qualification system
shops or offices is small but the total     to constructors of ready-built houses         is working well in Japan, and is highly
energy consumption of the entire            with a view to facilitating energy effi-      appreciated in Asia as well. Therefore
company is quite large. The aim of          cient houses.                                 Japan is actively cooperating with
this amendment is to promote energy                                                       Asian countries based on their needs.
efficiency in the commercial sector by      International Developments                    Japan and China have already held
making it subject to such a company-                                                      three Energy-Saving and Environmen-
wide regulation. It is expected that this   Japan has been making efforts in in-          tal Forums, and have exchanged a
will result in the increased coverage of    ternational cooperation with respect to       memorandum on cooperation with re-
the Law concerning the Rational Use         energy efficiency. This has a strategic       gard to the introduction of an energy
of Energy from about 10% to about           significance relating to strengthening        manager system.
50% of total energy consumption of          Japan’s energy security, responding to            Japan is now working with the
the commercial sector.                      climate change, and developing energy         International Standards Organization
    Before the amendments, the law          efficiency businesses. However, there         (ISO) by contributing to the creation
has required the appointment of an en-      are several challenges in developing          of a standard for energy management
ergy manager for each designated fac-       business in Asia. Specifically, the en-       systems, with a view to completing it
tory or workplace. But with the             ergy conservation incentives in devel-        by 2010. Japan is also considering
change to a system that regulates           oping countries are not sufficient; the       making a new proposal to create an
companies as a whole rather than indi-      regulatory system is not well-                additional international standard for
vidual sites, companies will now be         established; companies tend to give           energy managers on the basis of its
required to appoint an “energy man-         more priority to increasing production        national qualification system.
agement supervisor” at the board            capacity rather than focusing on ener-            In October 2008, the Japan
member level to be responsible for en-      gy efficiency; and the initial cost of        Business Alliance for Smart Energy
ergy management of the whole com-           introducing Japanese energy efficient         Worldwide was established. This or-
pany and also an “energy management         technologies is high.                         ganization was jointly established by
and planning leader” to assist this su-          Initiatives to address these chal-       the government and the business
pervisor at the headquarter level.          lenges are making progress. One such          community as an umbrella organiza-
    The latest amendments to the Law        initiative is to train people with the        tion for initiatives to communicate
concerning the Rational Use of Energy       necessary skills. Between 2004 and            Japan’s energy efficient technologies
also introduce a sector-based ap-           2008, about 1,000 people from abroad,         to the outside world. These efforts
proach. For key energy-intensive in-        mainly Asia, who are responsible for          have already started, with 162 techni-
dustries such as iron and steel, power      designing energy efficiency policies          cal case studies in seven different
generation and cement manufacturing,        came to Japan to receive training.            fields being compiled into Japanese
the amended law sets a benchmark for        During the same period about 400 ex-          State-of-the-art Smart Energy
each sector. Before the amendments,         perts from Japan were sent overseas.          Products and Technologies.
the law had set a goal of improving by      Such support for Asian countries aims
an average of 1% every year energy          at introducing, enacting and imple-
                                                                                          Toshiyuki Sakamoto is director of the Energy Efficiency and
use intensity. Now, however, bench-         menting laws for energy efficiency.           Conservation Division of the Agency for Natural Resources and
marking indicators, such as the                  Another initiative is the introduc-      Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

                                                                                       Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue          23
                                                       SCIENCE


                                                     Life on Digital Earth
                                                                                                                                                         the International Symposium on
                                                                                                                                                         Digital Earth has been held biannually.
                                                                                                                                                         At the symposium, representatives of
                                                                                                                                                         educational and research institutions,
                                                                                                                                                         enterprises, government bodies and
                                                     Launched in 2004, the Digital Asia Project is a joint industry-government                           NGOs gather from all over the world
                                                                                                                                                         to discuss the latest examples of
                                                     -academia undertaking led on the academia side by Keio University. The                              Digital Earth applications and research
                                                     Japan Journal asked Professor Hiromichi Fukui about the work being                                  results. International systems are pro-
                                                     conducted under the Project to address the environmental issues facing                              vided to further the various uses of
                                                     Asia and the world.                                                                                 Digital Earth.




                                                     T
                                                                                                                                                         Digital Asia Project
                                                             he planet Earth is a global                       situation can be made visible on the
                                                             commons that is widely used                       computer network on a real-time           Earth observation satellite data and
                                                             by people all over the world, in                  basis. Furthermore, Digital Earth can     other geospatial information have also
                                                             addition to being the place                       be accessed by anyone via the             been put to practical use in Asia. How-
                                                     where they live. Digital Earth is be-                     Internet, and it can process informa-     ever, the mutual utilization of this data
                                                     lieved to be one of the newest ways of                    tion entered by the people who share      across associated organizations has not
                                                     dealing with risks on a global scale                      the virtual environment. The basic        progressed, because the mechanism
                                                     that threaten the global environment.                     technology it utilizes is Geographical    and network environment for informa-
                                                     Digital Earth is a multi-dimensional                      Information System(s) (GIS), similar      tion sharing have not yet matured.
                                                     and multi-resolution Earth configured                     to Google Earth. One application of            The Digital Asia Project aims to
                                                     in a virtual environment created on a                     Digital Earth is that if a flood occurs   improve the situation using Digital
                                                     computer network. It is a tool that                       somewhere on Earth, the satellite im-     Earth. The Project has been underway
                                                     serves as a common test lab for deal-                     ages captured before and after the        since 2004 as a joint industry-
                                                     ing with global environmental issues.                     flood can be lined up in chronological    government-academia undertaking in
                                                         Digital Earth is configured based                     order for comparison. By overlapping      accordance with Keio University’s
                                                     on the enormous volume of geospatial                      the land usage and population distri-     five-year plan, in conjunction with the
                                                     information that has been collected.                      bution data on the satellite images, we   Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
                                                     This geospatial information includes                      can see how far the flood has affected    (JAXA), the Asian Institute of
                                                     maps, topographical maps, satellite                       the social activities of humans.          Technology (AIT) of Thailand, Kyodo
                                                     images and statistics and other data.                         Digital Earth became widely           News and other organizations. It is
                                                     By combining these diverse types of                       known when former U.S. Vice Presi-        one of the Academic Frontier Promo-
                                                     data, Earth’s natural environment, the                    dent Al Gore announced the Digital        tion Projects supported by the Minis-
                                                     social activities undertaken by humans                    Earth Scheme in 1998 for promoting        try of Educa tion, Culture, Sports,
                                                     and other aspects of Earth’s current                      understanding on Earth. Since 1999,       Science and Technology (MEXT).
                                                                                                                                                              The head of the Digital Asia
                                                                                                                                                         Project is Hiromichi Fukui, research
                                                                                                                                                         director of the Global Security
                                                           ������������������������������������������                                                    Research Institute (G-SEC) and a pro-
                                                           �������������������������������������                                                         fessor in the Faculty of Policy
                                                           ��������������������������������������
                                                           ���������������������������
                                                                                                                                                         Management at Keio University.
                                                           ����������������������������          �����������������������                                      “The basic concept of Digital
                                                                                                                                                         Earth is to find out the real state of the
                                                                                   �������                                                               world. By objectively grasping the ac-
                                                                                �������
                                                                                                                                                         tual situation on Earth and getting to
                                                                                ������������������                           �������������������������   know the real state of the world, we
                                                                                                     ��������������������
                                                                                                     �����������������
                                                                                                                             ��������������
                                                                                                                                                         believe we can deal effectively with
                                                                                                                             ���������������
                                                                                                                                          ����������     environmental issues on various
BOTH FIGURES COURTESY OF PROFESSOR HIROMICHI FUKUI




                                                                                                                                          ���������      scales, from regional to global.”
                                                                                                                                          �����������
                                                                                                               �������������������                            The research team led by Profes-
                                                                                  �����                                                                  sor Fukui determined that Digital Asia
                                                                                  ��������
                                                                                  �������                                                                needed two apparatuses to make the
                                                                                                                                                         real state of the world visible. The
                                                                                   ������                                                                first is Geo Browser, which is a geo-
                                                                                                                                  �������������          spatial information database like
                                                                   ������������������������������������������������������������������
                                                                   ������������������������������������������������������������������                    Digital Earth. The second is Media
                                                                ���������������������������������������������������������������������
                                                                ����������������������������������������������������������������                         Browser, which extracts people’s di-
                                                      24   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
Field servers that Professor Fukui’s research team has installed around Imja Glacial Lake (above).
Images of Imja Glacial Lake photographed by the field servers between May 9 and 12, 2008.
The ice on the surface is clearly melting (from left to right).


verse ideas regarding the Asian region    cated at the foot of Mt. Everest at an        addresses on personal computers and
from the latest world news, and dis-      altitude of 5,000 m, as the test ground.      mobile phones when the water level
plays them in visible form. It is         Imja Glacial Lake currently measures          rises above the alert level, as part of
planned that the extracted news data      about 2 km in length and 560 m in             the GLOF Alert System of Imja
will be combined and ranked, so that      width, with a depth of as much as 100         Glacial Lake. The system is already
the Asian viewpoints and trends can       m. It is still expanding. According to a      undergoing testing.
be perused. The Digital Asia Project      survey by the International Center for            In the near future, the research
aims to utilize the systems for global    Integrated Mountain Development               team led by Professor Fukui plans to
environmental conservation and disas-     (ICIMOD) in Nepal, there are as many          begin studies of civil engineering
ter management, thereby promoting         as 200 glacial lakes in the entire            methods for reducing risk by draining
sustainable development in Asia.          Himalayan region with a high proba-           water from Imja Glacial Lake and
                                          bility of a future outburst, just like        lowering its water level, in addition to
Real-time Monitoring of                   Imja Glacial Lake. To establish an            configuring the Alert System.
Himalayan GLOFs                           Alert System linked to the real-time              “In the future, a comprehensive
                                          glacier monitoring system, the re-            project that addresses not only disaster
The test project chosen for investigat-   search team installed two units of field      prevention but also the water resource
ing how Digital Asia can be used to       servers (above-ground environmental           measures for the entire Himalayan
counteract global warming is Glacial      monitoring devices) near Imja Glacial         mountains will be essential,” says
Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) in the        Lake. The field servers, which are op-        Professor Fukui. With this in the back-
Himalayas. Himalayan glaciers             erated by solar cells, collect the tem-       ground, Professor Fukui has proposed
abound in ice gorges near to Antarc-      perature, humidity, water level and           the establishment of an International
tica and the Arctic Circle. In the        various other data, along with photo-         Rescue Base in Japan. “It would be a
Himalayas, many glaciers have melted      graphic images of Imja Glacial Lake           comprehensive facility dedicated to
and retreated, and the number and scale   that are taken by built-in digital cam-       environmental issues and disaster pre-
of glacial lakes, formed when glaciers    eras at set intervals. The groundbreak-       vention, equipped with information
melt and the water is trapped, have ex-   ing aspect of the system is that the          and telecommunication infrastructures
panded rapidly. As such, the risk of      field servers are connected to the            like Digital Asia, and with the capacity
outburst floods caused by the collapse    Internet via a radio relay station. This      to supply the necessary staff and
of these glacial lakes has increased in   enables the conditions of the glacial         equipment at times of disaster. It is the
recent years. Since the snow and gla-     lake to be checked almost on a real-          present-day version of the Thunderbird
ciers in the Himalayas are the water      time basis. It is the first such attempt      station.” Starting with GLOF in the
sources of major rivers in neighboring    in the world. By accessing the website        Himalayas as the first step, Professor
Asian countries, the issues facing        of the Digital Asia Project, anyone can       Fukui is promoting utilization of the
Himalayan glaciers also form an inte-     observe the changing situation of Imja        systems of Digital Asia in order to ad-
gral part of the water issues for the     Glacial Lake and actually experience          dress various issues in the whole Asian
wider surrounding Asian region.           the global warming phenomena. Also            region, including the Middle East.
    The research team led by Profes-      worth noting is the system for directly
sor Fukui chose Imja Glacial Lake, lo-    sending an alert to registered e-mail         Junko Nakanishi, The Japan Journal

                                                                                     Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   25
  SCIENCE


High Hopes for Research on Mt. Fuji
Rising to an altitude of 3,776 meters, Mt. Fuji is Japan’s highest                                   Treatment of
mountain. For many years the Mt. Fuji Weather Station located at its                                 Altitude Sickness
summit has played a significant role as a base for weather observation.                              With this as the background, we es-
In recent years the station was made available for use by general                                    tablished Valid Utilization of Mt. Fuji
scientists, which has led to a host of new research taking advantage of                              Weather Station, an NPO with more
                                                                                                     than 200 members, including research-
the benefits of its high altitude. Katsumi Asano, professor emeritus at                              ers and mountaineers. The organiza-
the University of Tsukuba and chairperson of Valid Utilization of Mt. Fuji                           tion began observation and research at
Weather Station, discusses the significance of research made on Mt. Fuji.                            the Mt. Fuji Weather Station after re-
                                                                                                     ceiving permission to use the facilities




I
                                                                                                     from the Japan Meteorological Agen-
     n 1932, the temporary observatory                    the high altitude, as well as for weath-   cy in the summer of 2007, when the
     of the Central Meteorological                        er observation.                            station became available for summer
     Observatory, the predecessor of                           In other countries, an array of       research work by the private sector.
     the Mt. Fuji Weather Station, was                    achievements has been made by re-               For two months between July and
established atop Mt. Fuji and year-                       search conducted in high-altitude          August of 2007 and 2008, nine and
round weather observation com-                            bases, such as the Mauna Loa Obser-        thirteen research studies were respec-
menced at the site. Since that time,                      vatory in Hawaii (3,396 m) which is        tively conducted at the Mt. Fuji
meteorological data such as tempera-                      noted for greenhouse gas observations,     Weather Station, on themes including
ture, atmospheric pressure, precipita-                    the High Altitude Research Station         high-altitude medical sciences, atmo-
tion and humidity have been collected                     Jungfraujoch (3,578 m) in Switzerland,     spheric chemistry, ecology and train-
there. In 1964, a weather radar was in-                   which conducts astronomical research,      ing and cosmic radiation. In the area
stalled at the site to instantaneously                    and the Monte Rosa Laboratory (4,559       of high-altitude medical sciences, my
detect typhoons approaching Japan; a                      m) in Italy, which is famous for high      research group has been studying the
measure taken in response to the great                    altitude medicine.                         application of acupuncture for the
damage from the Isewan Typhoon                                 Moreover, a participant in the        treatment of altitude sickness. Every
(Typhoon Vera) that hit the country in                    construction of the Mt. Fuji Weather       year, about 50,000 Japanese overseas
September 1959 and left more than                         Station says that proper maintenance       go to altitudes of more than 6,000
5,000 people dead or missing.                             will permit another 100 years of           meters, either for mountaineering or
    However, because of the develop-                      problem-free usage of the building it-     for business, and their mortality rate
ment of weather satellites and tech-                      self, remaining resistant to the severe    exceeds 2% each year, which is quite
nologies that enable collection of me-                    climate conditions where the average       high. Mt. Fuji attracts about 400,000
teorological data from remote areas,                      low temperature is -15°C and average       climbers every year, and several die of
the Japan Meteorological Agency                           wind speed is as high as 15 m/sec.         cardiac failure or other causes. One of
stopped using the weather radar for
observation in 1999, and since 2004,
                                                                COURTESY OF SHIZUOKA SHIMBUN




the station has been unmanned.
    Currently, meteorological data at
the summit of Mt. Fuji are collected
automatically by the meteorological
equipment installed in the Mt. Fuji
Weather Station. However, it must be
stressed that this highest point of our
land is the perfect site for a variety of
research that utilizes the benefits of


     Its utility as a weather radar system (from
 1964) superseded by satellite technology, Mt.
Fuji Weather Station today serves as a base in
 the summer months for research in numerous
     scientific fields, as well as for (unmanned)
                     meteorological observation.

 26   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
                                                        A researcher sends electric current to                          International Appeal
                                                        a needle inserted into the thumb of the
                                                        author as part of an experiment to                              Because of these advantages, Mt. Fuji
                                                        measure the degree of oxygen                                    also draws a great deal of attention
                                                        saturation in the blood.                                        from overseas researchers. In each of
                                                                                                                        the past two years, scientists from the
                                                                                                                        National Central University of Taiwan
                                                                         parameter for oxygen intake potential,         visited the site to observe mercury con-

                                           COURTESY OF YOMIURI SHIMBUN
                                                                         increased after they climbed Mt. Fuji.         centration. This year, scientists from
                                                                         The experiment also showed improve-            the ABC-Pyramid atmospheric obser-
                                                                         ments in their heart rates and blood           vatory (5,079 m) in the Himalayas plan
                                                                         lactate levels, which indicate the de-         to observe aerosol on Mt. Fuji. More-
                                                                         gree of fatigue. These results indicated       over, the Lulin Baseline Station in
                                                                         that Mt. Fuji may provide altitude             Taiwan (2,862 m), ABC-Pyramid at-
                                                                         training effects over a short period and       mospheric observatory, Mauna Loa
the major causes of death at high alti-                                  that the mountain could serve as a site        Observatory in Hawaii, and Valid
tudes is severe disorders caused by                                      for training those traveling to high al-       Utilization of Mt. Fuji Weather Station
low oxygen, or altitude sickness. At a                                   titudes or for judging their fitness for       will begin collaboration this year in
height of more than 3,000 meters, the                                    high-altitude environments.                    networked observations. Real-time
lower atmospheric pressure reduces                                                                                      meteorological data from the respec-
the amount of oxygen in the blood by                                     Atmospheric Chemistry                          tive sites will be transmitted and shared
60% compared with when the person                                                                                       online among the laboratories.
is on level ground. The stress caused                                    In the area of atmospheric chemistry                Other research conducted on Mt.
by the severe condition triggers hyper-                                  research, groups of scientists from            Fuji includes observation of cosmic
activity of the sympathetic nerve,                                       Waseda University and the Tokyo                radiation exposure. Cosmic radiation
leading to the onset of altitude sick-                                   University of Science observed vola-           intensity grows stronger the higher
ness. However, the stress can be ef-                                     tile organic compounds (VOCs), such            one goes because the atmospheric
fectively controlled by stimulating                                      as toluene and benzene, and substanc-          layer becomes thinner. This has raised
energy centers, which puts the para-                                     es such as aerosol (suspended particu-         concerns about the effect of cosmic
sympathetic nerve to work. This led                                      lates) contained in the atmosphere.            radiation on the health of aircraft
us to assume that stimulating energy                                     These substances are said to be closely        crews. In relation to global warming,
centers would alleviate altitude sick-                                   related with air pollution and climate         measurement of CO 2 concentration
ness. So we conducted an experiment                                      change, but many points remain un-             and investigations on permafrost have
with twelve examinees lodging in the                                     known regarding how much of what               also been conducted at the site.
Mt. Fuji Weather Station. For each                                       substances are generated, and from                  Based on all this evidence, it is
examinee we inserted a needle into the                                   where. Mt. Fuji’s advantage in observ-         clear that observations and research
goukoku, an energy center located at                                     ing such substances lies in the fact that      conducted at the Mt. Fuji Weather Sta-
the base of the thumb, sent electric                                     data can be collected without direct           tion are directly related to human lives.
current to the needle several times a                                    influence from automobile and factory          In July 2007, we held the World Eco-
day, and measured degree of oxygen                                       fuel emissions because the mountain            Science Network Conference in Tokyo,
saturation in the blood. We obtained a                                   is located away from metropolitan              which was attended by members of
positive result from this experiment,                                    areas. Moreover, the summit of Mt.             representative high-altitude laborato-
which suggests that stimulating a                                        Fuji extends into the free troposphere,        ries from all over the world, including
power center might alleviate the                                         the atmosphere between an altitude of          Valid Utilization of Mt. Fuji Weather
symptoms of altitude sickness.                                           one kilometer aboveground and the              Station. The conference concluded
     We also conducted an experiment                                     stratosphere. In this layer, substances        with the release of the Declaration on
for verifying the effectiveness of high-                                 travel long distances without being            the formation of a global environmen-
altitude training, which many athletes                                   subject to land surface frictions. In          tal watch network, under which the
have been undergoing in recent years.                                    fact, black carbon generated by a fire         laboratories will collaborate for pro-
Many of these athletes go overseas for                                   in Siberia, and yellow sand from               tecting our planet’s future. We are de-
training because there is no appropri-                                   China were each observed at the sum-           termined to continue research for pass-
ate venue in Japan. In each of the past                                  mit of Mt. Fuji. Since substances gen-         ing on a better global environment to
two years we used eleven examinees,                                      erated on the Eurasian Continent are           coming generations by making use of
who stayed at the Mt. Fuji Weather                                       carried from west to east by westerly          the geographical advantages provided
Station for two nights, and measured                                     winds generated in the mid-latitude of         by Mt. Fuji and through cooperation
fluctuations of their physiological re-                                  the northern hemisphere, Mt. Fuji, lo-         with laboratories in other countries.
sponses and physical working capaci-                                     cated at the eastern edge of the
ty. The results showed that their arte-                                  Eurasian Continent, is the optimum             Katsumi Asano is professor emeritus at the University of Tsukuba
rial blood oxygen saturation, a                                          site for such observation.                     and chairperson of Valid Utilization of Mt. Fuji Weather Station.

                                                                                                                     Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue              27
                                        CULTURE


                                      Bonsai Branching Out                                                      E
                                                                                                                         astern Tokyo’s Edogawa City
                                                                                                                         is made up primarily of resi-
                                                                                                                         dential districts and light in-
                                                                                                                         dustry, with schools and the
                                                                                                                odd small park thrown in. But amid
                                      Kunio Kobayashi opened Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in 2002 with “the          this urban sprawl, beyond a tradition-
                                                                                                                ally designed wooden gateway, lies a
                                      ambition to spread Japanese culture, especially bonsai, in a new way to   small, green oasis of old and very
                                      the rest of the world.” Julian Ryall visits the Museum, where he talks    carefully tended plants.
                                      with the award-winning bonsai creator and one of a growing legion of           Kunio Kobayashi opened the
                                      Japanese and foreign apprentices.                                         Shunka-en Bonsai Gallery eight years
                                                                                                                ago with the aim of promoting the art
                                                                                                                of miniaturized plants to a wider—and
                                                                                                                increasingly international—audience.
                                                                                                                Since then, thousands of people have
                                                                                                                strolled through his gardens, work-
                                                                                                                shops and display areas, taking away a
                                                                                                                new understanding and wonder for a
                                                                                                                cultural heritage that has become syn-
                                                                                                                onymous with Japan.
                                                                                                                     “I still remember the very first
                                                                                                                time that I saw a real, true bonsai
                                                                                                                tree, on display in the Sakafuten ex-
                                                                                                                hibition, held near Tokyo Station,”
                                                                                                                says the sprightly sixty-year-old
                                                                                                                Kobayashi. “I was in my twenties and
                                                                                                                it was just a revelation.”
                                                                                                                     The bonsai plant that started
                                                                                                                Kobayashi’s own journey was not any
                                                                                                                old tree, but the venerable—and 600
                                                                                                                years old—“Oku no kyosho,” or “Pine
                                                                                                                at the End of the Road.”
                                                                                                                     “It was so powerful and impres-
                                                                                                                sive that I decided that I wanted to
                                                                                                                follow that path and become a bonsai
                                                                                                                artist,” he said. It helped that
                                                                                                                Kobayashi had grown up in a family
                                                                                                                that was involved in the potted plant
                                                                                                                business, providing cyclamen and
                                                                                                                other plants for markets and whole-
                                                                                                                sale, and had attended a gardening
                                                                                                                high school near the present site of his
                                                                                                                gallery, which has traditionally been a
                                                                                                                horticultural area serving Tokyo.
                                                                                                                     Back then, he said, there was a
                                                                                                                boom in interest in bonsai that he was
                                                                                                                able to tap into, developing thousands
                                                                                                                of cuttings that sold very quickly. The
                                                                                                                money he made was then invested in
                                                                                                                much older trees, many of which still
                                                                                                                adorn the grounds of the gallery.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTOPHER DUNN




                                                                                                                     Within the walls of the museum,
                                                                                                                the ground is covered with fine gravel
                                                                                                                or paving stones, reminiscent of a
                                                                                                                temple. Apprentices are carefully
                                                                                                                pruning and tending plants atop turn-
                                                                                                                tables in the workshop, the tools of
                                                                                                                their trade laid out alongside them. On
                                      A view over the garden at Shunka-en Bonsai Museum, Tokyo                  the other side of the compound, a
                                      28   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
glass-fronted building houses dozens        ness at being in a pot,” says
of beautifully carved wooden tables         Peter Warren, a Briton who
designed to best show off the plants’       first came to study under
attributes. Nearby are hundreds of          Kobayashi six years ago. “If
pots, ranging from shallow containers       you take a maple and work
several feet long to delicate fire-glazed   on it at the right time of
bowls. Many are several hundred             year, the DNA in the plant
years old and were brought back to          makes the leaves shrink.
Japan from China—where they had             The leaves of an oak tree,
been used as incense holders—in the         on the other hand, will
early decades of the last century. The      never become smaller and
first character in the Japanese word        large leaves then look out
“bonsai” means pot, underlining the         of place on a tiny bonsai.”
importance of what some see as a                Pointing out the twisted
mere container to the overall effect.       trunk of one plant, Warren
                                            says the appeal to many
Prize Specimens                             bonsai-lovers is the con-
                                            trast between the gnarled
Lined up in the window are bonsai           and aged bark, the “cranky”
that were just in the running for the       movements in the branches
forthcoming Kokufuten Competition,          —and then the beautiful
the highlight of aficionados’ year and      and delicate flowers at
a competition that Kobayashi has re-        their extremities.
ceived awards at on fifteen occasions.                                       Shunka-en Bonsai Museum owner Kunio
Three of the specimens have been            Global Spread                    Kobayashi waters a blossoming plum tree.
chosen to compete this year.
     A perfectly miniaturized zelkova,      Originally from Thirsk, in
a member of the elm family, has             North Yorkshire, thirty-year-old              can be found as far back as ancient
clearly received years of tender care.      Warren plans to set up his own bonsai         Egypt, with potted olive and date trees
Its branches have been teased in just       garden in the county of Kent and is in        often found in the grounds of temples.
the right direction to make a perfect       the lengthy process of sending a con-         The term “penzai” cropped up in
umbrella shape ato p t h e t r u n k .      tainer of around thirty plants to             China during the Jin Dynasty, of 265
Grown from a seed and worked on             Britain to start the project, an indica-      AD to 420 AD, with trees grown in
for fifty years or so, the shape is en-     tor of the global spread of this very         containers soon found across the
tirely man-made.                            Japanese pastime.                             country, as well as in Korea and
     In contrast, the other two entrants        “There’s a quiet enthusiasm in            Vietnam. The practice spread to Japan
are far more the work of nature. Dis-       England and lots of people who col-           during China’s Song Dynasty, be-
covered high in the Japanese moun-          lect bonsai and put them in their gar-        tween 960 and 1279, a time when
tains several hundred years ago, juniper    dens, but not on show,” he said. “They        Japan was importing and adapting
trees that had suffered damage at the       are much more enthusiastic in Italy           many of mainland Asia’s cultural pas-
hands of wildlife or the elements were      and Spain, where they like to show off        times. Cultivation of plants became a
brought down and their still living         their plants more.”                           hobby of the wealthy and influential
parts encouraged to grow. The result is         Yet there are differences in the          during the Edo period (1603–1867),
the darker, living wood twisting around     way bonsai has developed overseas             also a time noted for the development
the dead white parts, with deep green       from its roots in Japan, he adds.             of some of Japan’s most famous tradi-
leaves emerging from the branches.              “In the West, everyone has studied        tional gardens.
     Back in the courtyard, plants that     bonsai in books and tried to do things             Japanese bonsai devotees perfect-
prefer the warmth of the sun are shel-      that would seem perhaps odd in                ed the styling of these tiny trees,
tered beneath the eaves of the museum       Japan,” Warren says. “There is also a         which Tomohiro Masumi says fit per-
building. A flowering plum already          very short-term way of looking at and         fectly with the people and society of
has pale pink blooms at the tips of its     growing trees because they do not             this country.
branches, a white pine cascades deli-       have the hundreds of years of history              “Bonsai help people feel they are
cately over the edge of its container.      and knowledge that we have here.              closer to nature,” said Masumi, owner
Trident maples, Chinese quince and          That’s not so say that their techniques       of the Koju-en bonsai nursery in
magnolias stand atop slightly raised        are not, in many cases, phenomenal,           Kyoto. “When you work on a bonsai
wooden tables.                              but it’s just different.”                     plant, you react to it but at the same
     “You can grow almost any plant             It comes as a surprise to many that       time feel nearer to the forests or moun-
as a bonsai, although specimens are         bonsai were not originally a Japanese         tains—even though you might be in an
chosen for their suitability and happi-     creation. Plants grown in containers          apartment in the middle of a city.
                                                                                       Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   29
                                        CULTURE

                                                                                                             Peter Warren is studying bonsai cultivation under Kunio Kobayashi
                                                                                                             in advance of opening his own bonsai garden in Kent, England.


                                                                                                              Prefecture, one of the           here now,” he says. “My aim is to pass
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTOPHER DUNN




                                                                                                              most famous. More than           on my knowledge of bonsai to the
                                                                                                              200 years ago, a local man       next generation and people all over
                                                                                                              who collected pine tree          the world, but I do want people to bet-
                                                                                                              saplings he found nearby,        ter recognize the beauty of the idea
                                                                                                              cultivated and then sold         behind bonsai.”
                                                                                                              them. Kinashi now pro-                  Surrounded, as he is, by bonsai
                                                                                                              vides more than 80 per-          every day, does he never get tired of
                                                                                                              cent of Japan’s bonsai           his chosen profession?
                                                                                                              pine trees, with the elegant            “I still get that old feeling when-
                                           “Japanese homes are very small                       Kuro-matsu and graceful Nishiki-               ever I see a particularly good exam-
                                      and often people cannot have a garden                     matsu the most sought-after around             ple,” he said. “The aesthetics of the
                                      so there is a big demand for bonsai,”                     the world. The town hosts fairs three          plant may be very attractive, but there
                                      said Masumi, who is also a member of                      times every month and two “Grand               is also the inner element. It is seeing
                                      the All Japan Shohin Bonsai Associa-                      Fairs,” in March and November.                 the living and the dead combining to
                                      tion, with “shohin” meaning small                             Similarly, Bonsai Village, near            create a vision of beauty.
                                      plants that range up to 18 cm in height.                  the town of Omiya in Saitama Prefec-                  “When I look at a good bonsai, I
                                           Speaking at a bonsai exhibition in                   ture, makes its living from miniature          have a feeling of the importance of
                                      Kyoto, he said most bonsai gardeners                      plants. Famous around the world,
                                      are older, but that there has been a                      the village covers some 330,000
                                      surge in popularity among young peo-                      square meters and is home to hun-
                                      ple for the smaller plants. And he adds                   dreds of thousands of bonsai
                                      that while it might look difficult to                     plants and several private bonsai
                                      cultivate some of the miniature works                     gardens. The highlight of every
                                      of art that are on display, anyone can                    year is the Great Bonsai Festival,
                                      try it.                                                   held each May.
                                                                                                    Kobayashi’s museum is de-
                                      Bonsai for Beginners                                      signed in a very Japanese style,
                                                                                                with sixteen individual rooms of
                                      Termed “pop bonsai,” these plants are                     tatami mat floors and bonsai dis-
                                      a more modern take on the ancient ap-                     played in tokonoma, complete
                                      proach, with seedlings encouraged to                      with a hanging scroll designed to
                                      grow out of beer cans, coffee mugs or                     accentuate the plant. In one, birds
                                      any other receptacle and encourage                        on the scroll appear to be descend-
                                      the owner to use his or her imagina-                      ing on a bonsai gardenia with fruit,
                                      tion and creativity.                                      completing a natural scene. In a
                                           “If you use young trees it can take                  neighboring room, a black pine in
                                      many years to grow, but it is not so                      root-over-rock style is placed be-
                                      difficult,” said Masumi. “You just                        neath a scroll of Mount Fuji. Three
                                      need to take care of them because                         tea-ceremony rooms have hearths
                                      they’re really just small trees in a pot.                 and look out over the gravel gar-          One of three trees selected by Kunio
                                      And that’s the beauty of bonsai.”                         den and bonsai creations.                  Kobayashi for this year’s prestigious
                                           There are numerous possible                              Kobayashi is much more of a            Kokufuten Competition. The juniper
                                      styles that a plant can be encouraged                     traditionalist when it comes to            tree has grown to this impressive form
                                      to take, ranging from the formal up-                      bonsai, although he agrees that            from a weather-damaged cutting taken
                                      right style—known as “chokkan”—                           taking the discipline in new direc-        several hundred years ago.
                                      through cascades of tiny foliage that is                  tions—such as the aforementioned
                                      reminiscent of flowing water, groups                      pop bonsai—is important if it is to
                                      of trees that resemble growing forests,                   discover a new audience and a new              life and new respect for nature,” he
                                      and individual plants whose roots                         lease of life.                                 added. “These trees have been strug-
                                      grow out of the cracks and holes in a                         “Japanese bonsai has a very long           gling to survive for so long and I feel
                                      rock, a style known as “ishizuke.”                        history, lots of knowledge and very            humbled by that.”
                                           Several communities across Japan                     high quality trees and containers, but I
                                      have built their local economy on                         feel that there is a lot more apprecia-        Julian Ryall is the Japan correspondent for the Daily Telegraph
                                      bonsai, with Kinashi, in Kagawa                           tion of bonsai in other countries then         and freelances for publications around the world.

                                       30   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
                                      ENVIRONMENT


                                    Saving the Sea Turtles of Yakushima
                                    The number of loggerhead turtles landing on the island of Yakushima to                     beach on to future generations. Con-
                                                                                                                               ducted from May to July the study
                                    lay their eggs rose more than threefold year on year in 2008, thanks in                    started daily around 9 p.m. and contin-
                                    no small part to the efforts of the volunteer organization Yakushima                       ued until the early morning hours
                                    Umigame Kan. Nevertheless, the turtles’ ecology is still under threat, as                  when most sea turtles stop landing.
                                    the NPO’s head, Kazumi Omuta, reports.                                                     Typhoons caused suspension of the
                                                                                                                               research for a few days. The research




                                    L
                                                                                                                               activities now extend to a period from
                                            oggerhead turtles breed in sub-    ed on the eastern shore of Yakushima            the end of April to September in order
                                            tropical to temperate zones,       were in 2002 designated as ordinary             also to protect turtlets, due to an in-
                                            migrating from tropical to tem-    zones within a national park. The               creased number of visitors who come
                                            perate waters in search of food.   shrub belt in the upper section of              to view the sea turtles.
                                    Japan is the only area in the North        Inakahama beach, where most sea tur-                 The study naturally covered the
                                    Pacific where loggerheads lay their        tles currently lay their eggs, is private-      sea turtles’ frequency of landing and
                                    eggs, and roughly 40%–50% of logger-       ly owned and was placed outside na-             egg-laying, and members of the re-
                                    head turtles that come ashore in Japan     tional park boundaries. The area has            search group also calculated the num-
                                    choose Yakushima island as their           no restrictions regarding development.          ber of landing sea turtles by affixing a
                                    landing point. The Nagata district in      Three lodging facilities—a hotel,               marker to turtles that come ashore.
                                    the northwest part of Yakushima is the     camping ground, and seaside club-               The marker has shown that each fe-
                                    landing point for 90% of the logger-       house—are situated next to Inaka-               male sea turtle lays eggs an average of
                                    heads that reach the island, drawing       hama. From time to time, the light              three times in the May–July egg-
                                    30%–40% of all such turtles landing        emitted by the hotel and other facili-          laying season. The marker also in-
                                    in Japan.                                  ties at night upsets the sea turtles at-        forms of the year-on-year increase or
                                         Sea turtles land on the three         tempting to come ashore and those               decrease in the number of sea turtles
                                    beaches in the Nagata district to lay      trying to leave for the ocean.                  landing on Yakushima to lay eggs.
                                    their eggs from May to July. Turtlets           The three beaches in the Nagata            This has been an important study for
                                    hatched on the beaches crawl back to       district were registered as wetlands            understanding the waters in which sea
                                    the sea starting from the end of July      under the Ramsar Convention in                  turtles migrate in search of food and
                                    until September.                           November 2005, but the registered               the years in which they return to their
                                         Beaches where sea turtles land        area measures only 10 hectares.                 home beach.
                                    have not been designated as world               In 1985, a group of concerned                   Aside from the ecological study,
                                    natural heritage sites, but sandy sec-     local people, mostly younger resi-              members of the research group relo-
                                    tions of the beaches in the Nagata dis-    dents, launched an ecological study on          cate to safe locations egg nests in dan-
                                    trict and the Tashirohama beach locat-     sea turtles, seeking to pass Inakahama          ger of being washed away by, for in-
                                                                                                                               stance, typhoons, or stepped on by
                                                                                                                               visitors. These are labor-intensive
                                                                                                                               tasks. At present, the group is short-
                                                                                                                               handed for its operations. In 2008, the
                                                                                                                               group relocated 684 loggerhead turtle
                                                                                                                               nests containing 75,019 eggs and eight
                                                                                                                               green turtle nests containing 962 eggs
                                                                                                                               for safety.
                                                                                                                                    Until 1972, local villagers bid for
                                                                                                                               beaches where sea turtles land, gath-
                                                                                                                               ered their eggs, and sold them on
                                                                                                                               Yakushima when the egg-laying sea-
                                                                                                                               son arrived. The eggs were a valuable
COURTESY OF YAKUSHIMA UMIGAME KAN




                                                                                                                               protein source in hungry times. In cer-
                                                                                                                               tain parts of the island, junior high
                                                                                                                               schools managed beaches. Students at
                                                                                                                               the schools took turns collecting eggs
                                     Yakushima Umigame Kan volunteers rope off and monitor                                     and selling them in the villages. With
                                     sections of the beach to protect newly born turtlets from being
                                                                                                                               the proceeds from the sales, the schools
                                     crushed by human visitors to the shore.
                                                                                                                               purchased fixtures and other improve-
                                                                                                                            Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   31
  ENVIRONMENT

ments. One informant who gathered                         The Negative Impact                          100-meter section of Maehama Beach,
eggs in those days said that more than                    of Tourism                                   which hosts the greatest number of sea
fifty sea turtles used to lay their eggs                                                               turtle nests, to protect turtlets in the
on one beach in a single night. There                     Visitors to Yakushima began to in-           same period as on Inakahama.
are also stories of people who visited                    crease in number in 1993 when the is-            Viewers of sea turtles numbered
Yakushima all the way from Okinawa                        land was registered as a world natural       1,672 in 1985 when the ecological
in order to catch sea turtles. This sug-                  heritage site. In line with this increase,   study was launched. This number rose
gests that a greater number of logger-                    numbers increased of those visiting          to 2,719 in 1993 when Yakushima is-
head turtles visited Yakushima in those                   Yakushima’s beaches to watch sea             land was registered as a world heri-
days to lay their eggs.                                   turtles. As a result, sea turtles were in-   tage site, to 10,285 in 2005 when the
     In April 1973, the Yakushima                         creasingly obstructed from landing           three beaches were registered under
Town Office placed a ban on the col-                      and laying eggs, and turtlets were           the Ramsar Convention, and reached
lection of sea turtle eggs by enforcing                   more frequently stepped on and killed        11,846 in 2008. The huge crowd
a natural conservation ordinance. No                      on their way from hatching locations         began to significantly affect sea tur-
penalty was levied, but the office ap-                    to the sea. To deal with these prob-         tles’ landing and egg-laying, and the
pointed observers to protect the eggs                     lems, in August 1999 Yakushima
during the egg-laying season and pre-                     Umigame Kan (Yakushima Sea
vented illegal digging for eggs.                          Turtle Center) launched nighttime
     In June 1988, Kagoshima Prefec-                      turtlet protection activities on
ture established a sea turtle protection                  Inakahama beach in cooperation
ordinance. The prefecture announced                       with the Kagoshima Prefectural
its policy to protect landing sea turtles                 Govern ment and Kami yaku Town
and the eggs they laid within its limits,                 Office (now the Yakushima Town
and established penalties.                                Office), in addition to its activities
     In July 2006, the Ministry of the                    for protecting adult sea turtles.
Environment designated sea turtles                        Umigame Kan roped off an approxi-
for protection under the National
Parks Law. The Ministry protected by
law sea turtles landing on Maehama,                            A volunteer measures a tagged
Inakahama and Yotsusehama beaches                                               turtle’s back.
in the Nagata district and on Tashiro-
hama beach, and set penalties for re-
peat violators of a fine of 300,000–                      mately 300-meter-long section of the         hatched turtlets. Annual visitors to
500,000 yen or imprisonment for up                        sandy beach with the greatest number         Yakushima surpassed 400,000 in
to one year. First-time offenders are                     of nests and called on visitors to exer-     2007. The lowest estimates of annual
punished with a fine of 100,000 yen                       cise caution to avoid accidentally           visitors to Inakahama beach, includ-
(1,030 dollars).                                          crushing newly hatched turtlets ap-          ing daytime visitors, exceed 200,000
     Loggerhead turtles coming ashore                     proaching the ocean.                         considering the number of visitors to
in the Nagata district grew in number                         Sponsorship of the beach-roping          the island.
in 1990. After repeated rises and falls,                  activity moved from Umigame Kan to                Catching sea turtles and collecting
the number of landed loggerheads                          the Ministry of the Environment in           their eggs are activities governed by
rose more than threefold year on year                     2002 when Inakahama, Maehama and             laws and ordinances. But no restric-
in 2008, which was astonishingly                          Yotsusehama beaches in the Nagata            tions exist on watching sea turtles.
rapid growth. Assumed causes of this                      district were incorporated into a na-        Tour guides and others currently take
increase include protection of eggs                       tional park. The Kamiyaku Town               customers to the beaches and show
(ban on egg collection) under ordi-                       Office offered posts, Umigame Kan            them sea turtles laying eggs and turt-
nances and other rules since 1974, a                      supplied rope, and the Ministry of           lets, calling these “eco-tours.”
volunteer organization’s achieve-                         Education performed its installation in           Relevant administrative agencies
ments in its long-term sea turtle pro-                    cooperation with the Kagoshima               have ignored the conditions surround-
tection activities, prohibiting drift-net                 Prefectural Government, Kamiyaku             ing turtle-viewing. Until 2008, they
fishing in the North Pacific, an area in                  Town Office, Umigame Kan, and                provided no response, with the excep-
which loggerhead turtlets migrate,                        concerned local residents. Installation      tion of areas inside the ropes. They
and measures for preventing inciden-                      of turtlet protection ropes used to          have taken no action against turtle
tal catches implemented on the west                       begin in mid-July, but in 2008 the pe-       viewers. Umigame Kan has conducted
coast of Mexico. I believe that termi-                    riod was moved up to July 3 to coin-         significant protection activities by re-
nation of fixed-net fishing and inci-                     cide with the start of the incubation        locating eggs and taking steps for pro-
dental catches in coastal waters in                       period in order to prevent more turtlets     tecting incubation, all on a voluntary
1998 also contributed to Yakushima’s                      from being crushed. In a further step,       basis. Responding to increasing num-
loggerhead increase.                                      ropes were installed to mark off a           bers of sea turtles and people who
 32   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
                                               visit the beaches to watch them be-             Umigame Kan’s activities were               affecting Umigame Kan’s activities
                                               came difficult for Umigame Kan be-          recognized by a state agency in the             for studying and protecting sea turtles.
                                               cause it relies entirely on infrequent      United States, which subsidized the             Sandy beaches are decreasing in size,
                                               volunteers for its protection activities.   group for five years until 2008. In ex-         their privately owned hinterlands are
                                                    Sea turtle watchers can negatively     change, Umigame Kan supplied all its            undergoing development, and visitors
                                               affect sea turtles landing and laying       data on egg-laying frequencies and in-          are descending on them to watch the
                                               eggs, and hatched turtlets, in many         cubation studies to the agency. From            turtles. These conditions, I believe,
                                               ways. Car headlights shined onto the        December 8–10, 2008, officials from             will negatively affect the ecology of
                                               beach and human shadows have                White House agencies corresponding              sea turtles, particularly their incuba-
                                               caused landed sea turtles to head back      to Japan’s Ministry of the Environ-             tion, and accelerate a sea turtle popu-
                                               to the sea. Many sea turtles began to       ment and Fisheries Agency, along                lation decrease in the future if they re-
                                               come ashore after 11 p.m. when few          with U.S. sea turtle researchers, visited       main unchanged.
                                               people visit the beaches. At present,       Japan and explained to the Ministry of               The following actions are apparent
                                               the ban on human entrance inside the        the Environment, Fisheries Agency               solutions for the problems described.
                                               turtlet protection ropes has no legal       and Yakushima Town Office that log-             1) Continually supply sand and create
                                               jurisdiction. Many people go inside         gerhead turtles in Yakushima are rare              sandy beaches of sufficient depth in
                                               the ropes because the off-limit rule is     wildlife from a global viewpoint, and              response to the decreasing size of
                                               only a request. Because of the foot-        they should be protected at any cost.              sandy beaches.
                                               crushing caused by this situation, only                                                     2) Create a hinterland environment for
                                               30% to 40% of hatched turtlets make         Action Plan                                        Inakahama beach. The hinterlands
                                               it through the sand and reach the sea,                                                         can be developed freely now be-
                                               which is an extremely low rate. There       At present, Umigame Kan is undertak-               cause they are private property.
                                               is concern that this low departure rate     ing ecological research on sea turtles             Attempt to protect the hinterlands
                                               may lead to future decline in the sea       and activities for protecting them with            by restricting their development or
                                               turtle population under the current sit-    its limited funds and staff. Umigame               acquiring the land.
                                               uation in which the probability of a        Kan performs its activities all night           3) Relocate nests the night they are
                                               turtlet growing up to become an adult       long and throughout the sea turtles’               found to be in danger of washouts
                                                                                                                                              or accidental crushing by sea turtle
                                                                                                                                              watchers.
                                                                                                                                           4) Give lectures to egg-laying observ-
                                                                                                                                              ers, and restrict their numbers.
                                                                                                                                           5) Keep the habitats of sea turtles and
                                                                                                                                              humans separate. Restrict human
                                                                                                                                              entrance or, in the worst cases, des-
                                                                                                                                              ignate sections inside as complete
                                                                                                                                              sea turtle sanctuaries when ropes
                                                                                                                                              are installed for protecting turtlets.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF YAKUSHIMA UMIGAME KAN




                                                                                                                                           6) Offer places for study to local resi-
                                                                                                                                              dents who view sea turtles as a
                                                                                                                                              tourist attraction, so that they can
                                                                                                                                              gain accurate knowledge. Develop
                                                                                                                                              better methods for observation.
                                                                                                                                           7) Develop an organization that in-
                                                                                                                                              cludes administrative bodies and
                                                                                                                                              non-governmental organizations, and
                                                                                                                                              try to protect sea turtles and the envi-
                                               Volunteers move a batch of turtle eggs that is in danger of being                              ronment through this organization.
                                               washed into the sea.
                                                                                                                                               The Ministry of the Environment
                                                                                                                                           has begun to take action in recent
                                               sea turtle is said to be one in 5,000.      arriving season on a voluntary basis.           years. I believe activities for protect-
                                                   The turtlet incubation rate is high-    Umigame Kan would like to maintain              ing the loggerhead turtles of Yaku-
                                               er on the edges of the beaches visited      a regular staff of at least ten volunteers      shima island, which are important
                                               by fewer people. Results also show          for its nighttime activities. However,          wildlife from a global viewpoint, can
                                               that the incubation rate is higher from     securing volunteers for a research pe-          take place in a harmonious and sus-
                                               mid-August to September versus July         riod that continues for more than five          tained manner if and when the prob-
                                               to mid-August when the greatest num-        months is difficult, except in August           lems stated above are resolved.
                                               ber of people visits the beaches to         during college summer vacation. This
                                               watch the turtles.                          manpower difficulty is significantly            Kazumi Omuta is head of Yakushima Umigame Kan.

                                                                                                                                        Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue   33
                                                   SCIENCE


                                                 Robot Assistants Coming of Age
                                                 The University of Tokyo, jointly with Toyota, Panasonic and other                  Fund project, jointly with seven cor-
                                                                                                                                    porations including Toyota Motor
                                                 corporations, is pursuing research and development on robots that can              Company and Panasonic Inc. In
                                                 support an aging, low birthrate society. Director Isao Shimoyama of the            March 2008, the university established
                                                 Information and Robot Technology Research Initiative (IRT) at the                  the Information and Robot Technology
                                                 University of Tokyo, the project leader, explains the objectives and               Research Initiative (IRT) as its re-
                                                                                                                                    search base, under the direct manage-
                                                 outcomes of this research.                                                         ment of the university president.




                                                 T
                                                                                                                                         IRT refers to technologies derived
                                                        he Japanese population will in- single-person households were around        by fusion between information tech-
                                                        evitably continue to decrease   26%. In 2025, households with a mar-        nology (IT) and robot technology
                                                        as society ages and the birth-  ried couple and a child or children are     (RT). Industrial robots are already in
                                                        rate continues its decline.     expected to decrease to about 24%,          wide use, but not in ordinary house-
                                                 Japan’s population, which stood at     with single-person households jump-         holds. To make robots usable at home,
                                                 127 million as of 2005, will decline toing to about 35%. In other words, the       RT alone is not sufficient because ro-
                                                 about 90 million in 2055, while the    number of households with a single          bots based on only RT require persons
                                                 percentage of people sixty-five years  person, aged couple and those requir-       who have special skills to teach in
                                                 and older will increase from about     ing nursing care will increase in Japan     every step of their operation. Robots
                                                 20% in 2005 to about 40% in 2055.      from this point on. As a result,            cannot become commonplace in
                                                 Moreover, the nature of households     Japanese society is likely to face is-      households until they can be pur-
                                                 will also change markedly. As of       sues such as an insufficient labor          chased at discount home appliance
                                                 1995, households with a married cou-   force, surging social insurance costs       stores and operated simply in the
                                                 ple and a child or children accounted  and an increase of households that          home, out-of-the-box, without the help
                                                 for about 34% of all households, while find housework to be a heavy burden.        of experts. IT is essential in this re-
                                                                                                      This applies not only to      gard. In the future, numerous opera-
                                                                                                      Japan; it is a common         tion programs for tools and equipment,
                                                                                                      tendency among many           as well as data related to daily living,
                                                                                                      developed countries.          will be accumulated, shared and re-
                                                                                                           To deal with these       used online. And these data will be
                                                                                                      situations, we must start     utilized for operating robots. Specifi-
                                                                                                      preparing now. To             cally, robots can be connected to the
                                                                                                      maintain the current          Internet and made to download all
                                                                                                      level of economy and          data necessary to their operation, from
                                                                                                      quality of life (QOL), it     how washing machines are being used
                                                                                                      is important not only to      to the size of individual plates. In this
                                                                                                      provide measures from         way, robots can be used immediately
                                                                                                      social aspects, such as       in the home.
                                                                                                      measures for immi-                 Just as industrial robots have en-
                                                                                                      grants, social system re-     hanced productivity in factories, IRT
                                                                                                      forms and understand-         is aiming to enhance the productivity
                                                                                                      ing families, but also to     of household activities that are not re-
                                                                                                      utilize the technologies      flected on the GDP, and rationalizes
                                                                                                      at which Japan excels.        them. As a result, nursing care bur-
                                                                                                           In line with this per-   dens can be reduced while the amount
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO




                                                                                                      ception, the University       of time spent on recreational activities
                                                                                                      of Tokyo in 2006              increases and the range of activities
                                                                                                      launched Creation of          for the elderly can widen. This is the
                                                                                                      Foundational IRT to           IRT innovation. However, we are not
                                                                                                      Support Aging, Low            aiming to develop an Astro Boy-like,
                                                                                                      Birthrate Society as the      all-powerful robot that can do every-
                                                                                                      Ministry of Education,        thing humans can. We are developing
                                                                                                      Culture, Sports, Science      robots that can assist humans in their
                                                 Tea is served: An IRT home-assistant robot           and Technology’s              activities and reduce their psychologi-
                                                 in action                                            Special Coordination          cal and physical burdens.
                                                  34   Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue
    Currently, research and develop-       cloth as image features. The
ment is being conducted by sixty full-     robot is also equipped with a
time and part-time researchers on the      function to monitor operation
University of Tokyo’s side and about       status, for detecting errors when
sixty on the corporate side. Our uni-      it fails to grab laundry or to open
versity has long engaged in research       or close the washing machine lid
and development on robot technolo-         properly, and then try again. If
gies, but the robot industry has yet to    knowledge on how to use a cer-
emerge. Universities alone could           tain tool is incorporated into the
never commercialize products or stim-      robot, it becomes able to perform
ulate innovation. They are good at         tasks using the tool. In the future,
studying single technologies for soft-     robots will be able to download
ware, devices and other items, while       software that describes how to         A researcher rides a Personal Mobility
corporations excel at assembling these     use additional tools, which adds       Unit, specially built for outdoor use, on
elemental technologies into a system.      to the tasks they can handle.          the University of Tokyo grounds. The
By combining the merits of both, IRT                                              Unit can be operated without the use of
innovation becomes possible.              The Kitchen Robot                       the hands.
                                          The Kitchen Robot has also been
Prototypes                                developed, for helping with dish-
                                          washing. This robot is capable of              can support an independent life for el-
Almost three years have passed since      grabbing dishes on a tray, rinsing             derly people. Indoor Mobility Unit in-
the start of this joint IRT research and  them with water, placing them on the           fers the user’s intention based on the
                                                      dishwasher racks and               position of the center of gravity and
                                                      pressing the start button.         how the user is in contact with the
                                                      The key technology for             seat, enabling the user to operate the
                                                      this robot is the highly sen-      unit without using hands. The unit
                                                      sitive microelectro-               also comes close when the user waves
                                                      mechanical system                  at it. Outdoor Mobility Unit has the
                                                      (MEMS) touch sensor that           function to change the route when a
                                                      reacts to 0.3 grams of             person or obstacle has been detected,
                                                      weight. There has never            and also to return to storage on its own
                                                      been a robot that can skill-       if the user had abandoned theunit.
                                                      fully hold and handle an
                                                      object using hands. One of         Killer Apps
                                                      the reasons is because it          Significant responses have also come
                                                      was not possible to develop        in from overseas regarding our re-
                                                      a highly sensitive sensor          search and development. Many mem-
                                                      that can be attached to the        bers of foreign governments and com-
                                                      hand. In order to grab an          panies, particularly from European
                                                      object properly in a way           countries, have come to observe the
An IRT kitchen robot effortlessly does the dishes. that suits its shape and              University of Tokyo’s Information
                                                      weight, a sensor is needed         and Robot Research Initiative. Among
                                                      that can sensitively react to      these was a February visit by Nathalie
                                                      the shearing force generat-        Kosciusko-Morizet, French secretary
development and, to date, several ro-     ed when an object slides sideways, in          of state for Strategic Studies and the
bots have been developed to show ele-     addition to the pressure generated             Development of the Digital Economy.
ment technologies.                        when grabbing an object. Successful                 Numerous elemental technologies
                                          formation of a microscopic moving              related to IRT have been born through
Home Assistant Robot                      part in the elemental device turned out        the research and development work so
The first is the Home Assistant Robot,    to be a breakthrough, and enabled us           far, and we are confident that we lead
for helping housecleaning and             to successfully develop the MEMS               the world in this area. From here for-
straightening up. The robot can carry     touch sensor. This gave the robot the          ward, we will narrow down the tech-
dishes on a tray, put laundry into the    skill to sense the shape and weight of         nologies we have studied and devel-
washer, and sweep the floor with a        dishes by hand and adjust the grabbing         oped and concentrate on a select few,
broom. It has conventionally been         method and force to suit the dish.             as we look to present “killer applica-
very difficult for robots to recognize                                                   tions” with future potential.
objects that change shape, like clothes,  Personal Mobility
but our robot learned to recognize        Also under development is Personal             Isao Shimoyama is director of the Information and Robot
laundry by memorizing creases in the      Mobility Unit, a single-seat robot that        Technology Research Initiative at the University of Tokyo.

                                                                                      Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— April Issue               35
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