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Power Science

Japan Striving For Energy Efficiency 540

diamond writes "The NYT has an article on how Japan is squeezing to get the most out of the costly fuel. 'The government recently introduced a national campaign, urging the Japanese to replace their older appliances and buy hybrid vehicles, all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming.'"
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Japan Striving For Energy Efficiency

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  • New trend? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teh moges ( 875080 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:33AM (#12728578) Homepage
    Hopefully this starts a global trend
    • by TorKlingberg ( 599697 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:06AM (#12728688)
      Nah, saving energy is unamerican.
      • Re:New trend? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Saeger ( 456549 )
        Conspicuous consumption demonstrates to others how wealthy/powerful you are, so the more you can afford to waste, the more the chicks will want your provider genes and the more the other beta-monkeys will respect/fear you. Conservation is for greeny weenies and eurotrash! :)
        • Re:New trend? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Angostura ( 703910 )
          There's actually an interesting point lurking in here somewhere. I have a feeling that actually conspicuous consumption as a social attractant is a transitory phase.

          I was rewatching a copy of The Ipcress File the other night and at the beginning we see Michael Cane's Harry Palmer. The opening scene is constructed to show what a sophisticated goumet, bon viveur and babe-magnet he is. They demonstrate this by showing him opening a tin of tiny mushrooms in brine , labelled 'champignon'.

          Laughable, but back in
      • Re:New trend? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @02:42PM (#12730277) Homepage
        > > Hopefully this starts a global trend

        > Nah, saving energy is unamerican.

        Doesn't it count as a "global trend" if 19/20 people on the face of the earth do it, then?

        I know that Americans have a reputation for thinking USA == The Whole World, but that's rather OTT... (^_^)
    • Re:New trend? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      Because disposing of old appliances and manufacturing new ones saves energy and is good for the environment. . .if you make appliances.

      A cynic who looked at the whole thing closely, beginning to end, might just come the conclusion that the whole thing smacks at least as much of trying to get consumers out spending as it does "saving energy."

      Hey everybody, get in the car. We're going to drive to the mall shop for Gaia!

    • How is that interesting?

      From TFA:
      >part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming.

      The problem is that Japan won't be able to meet their obligations from the Kyoto Agreement.
    • Re:New trend? (Score:2, Interesting)

      My wife had told me that her parents (living in Tokyo) "had to" change their car "because it was too old" - though it was of a recent model - with this articl I understand why. My wife confirmed this connection when she forwarded my question about it to her parents. Not only are they "pushing" for people to use newer "low energy" products, they are making it illegal for them to needlessly waste energy.

      Bravo, Japan. Brilliant.
      • Re:New trend? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 )
        My understanding is that the situation in Japan is geared towards keeping people buying new cars. The MOT (or whatever it's called) on cars over a certain age (4 years or something) is very expensive, making it less desirable to run an older car (although I'm sure that Japanese politicians would utter some nonsense about pollution and the need to keep the country clean, yadda...)

        This sounds like a new twist on the same thing. Sorry, excuse my scepticism, but as soon as I read the story, my reaction was "t
    • Hopefully this starts a global trend

      I hope so because at the moment we are going backwards, the model T ford 100 years ago is more fuel efficient than the average car today.
  • Woah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Randy Wang ( 700248 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:34AM (#12728583)
    Hey! Maybe they'll make up for Australia and the USA not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol!

    Or not. You never know.

    It's extremely impressive, though, that they could manage to triple the output of their industrial sector for the same energy consumption - makes me feel guilty about doing nothing at all about climate change in my own home.
    • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:05AM (#12728686) Homepage Journal

      Maybe they'll make up for Australia and the USA not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol!

      Whatever happens with Kyoto, I think it's great to see a few governments here and there finally leading by example, and getting involved in encouraging and providing incentives for saving energy. Hopefully it'll get some power saving technologies and industries much more established than they were before, and some people might actually begin to realise that there are more benefits to being efficient than possibly reducing the effects that power generation might have on the environment. Some of it may even carry over into countries that initially didn't sign on to Kyoto.

      In New Zealand, where I am, finding ways to save energy has almost become a necessity, albeit one that the general population is noticing very slowly. (The main theme at the moment is everyone wanting to build more power stations, but nobody wanting them in their back yard.) Call it lack of planning if you like, but the power situation here is at the state where we're presently on the edge of getting brown-outs.

      The geographic isolation makes it necessary to be entirely self-reliant with power generation, and saving energy becomes a definite alternative to generating more. (Not all the time, but certainly much of the time.) Being someone who's quite enthusiastic about reducing light pollution, it's helpful to finally have some government bodies to deal with whose actual purpose revolves around finding new ways to save energy, such as this one [].

      My understanding, from having spoken to people there, is that the US Federal government is comparably hopeless at implementing energy efficiency schemes, for whatever reason. (That'd mean less jobs for all those americans in the power generation industry, right?) Apparently it's a much healthier economy when a few billions of dollars extra are circulating, even if it is for energy that's not actually necessary... but whatever.

      If you happen to have an interest in energy efficiency, though, I've heard that state governments and more local authorities in general are often a lot more receptive about promoting it. I presume that it's probably much easier in states that buy more energy from neighbouring states than they sell. eg. Calgary (okay, that's Canada but it's in the same direction as the US from here) recently went through a programme [] of replacing every one of their street lights. It's expected to pay off entirely within six to seven years, through operating costs of the lights alone.

    • Re:Woah! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If they care so much about the environment why do they still kill whales which are an endangered species?
      • Because whales are cheap and oil is dear.
      • Re:Woah! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cvdwl ( 642180 )
        As much as I'm an oceanographer and find whales beautiful and interesting creatures, I still need to take exception to the above.
        1. Some species of whales (Fin and Sei, IIRC) are approaching or exceeding historcal population levels, though data on their historical population numbers are scarce.
        2. Cetacean whales are large, grazing planktivores... i.e. analogous to cows. There is almost no scientific data to support (or oppose) any intelligence claims for large cetaceans (as opposed to the smaller odontocetes,
    • Australia and Kyoto (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nounderscores ( 246517 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:18AM (#12728737)
      FWIW, australia's state level governments (such as the Victorian Bracks government) are all imposing tough emissions controls in line with the kyoto protocol.

      The reason why australia didn't ratify kyoto is because kyoto also counts all forest fires as emissions of CO2, because, well, they are emissions of CO2.

      Australia has forest fires larger than engliand in the western australian forests every year. If australia ratified kyoto and got on the emissions trading scheme, australia would be economically crippled by having to buy emissions credits all the time. So Howard looked after the bottom line and refused to sign.

      Now, if only we could find a way to prevent forest fires. I have a friend who is trying to get a job as a postgraduate research assistant at the Victorian Fire Prevention Center with her very good botany degree... maybe she can help.
  • by The Slaughter ( 887603 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:35AM (#12728585)
    In addition to other energy conservation techniques, they've asked Godzilla to take fewer showers. That guy, like, he uses a lot of water, man.
    • Re:In addition... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:14AM (#12728720) Homepage Journal
      There's a theory I've read that Gojira (Godzilla) symbolizes Japan's perception of America, on one hand rising out of the ocean and dealing out crude destruction to Japanese cities, on the other hand having a kind of elemntal fascination for them. In some movies Gojira is painted in a tragic, or even heroic light.

      So, what we're talking about is more like an oportunity to sell Godzilla a more energy efficient water heater.
  • Encouragement? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nakanai_de ( 647766 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:37AM (#12728597)
    I admit I just skimmed TFA, but what qualifies as a "national campaign?" Is it just adverts on TV, or are there tax breaks involved as well? During the Carter administration in the US, there were numerous tax breaks for individuals who did things like convert their houses to solar power. The percentage of solar powered houses (whether for electricty or water heating) in Japan greatly outpaces that of the US, but do they get tax rebates from it, or is it just regular Japanese environmentalism?
    • Tax increases (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:43AM (#12728617) Homepage Journal
      The easiest way to encourage people to use less energy is to tax energy consumption heavily.
      • Re:Tax increases (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Colin Smith ( 2679 )
        You can push people away from the worst excesses that way and of course the poorest are the hardest hit by tax increases and often can't afford the capital expense of the more environmentally friendly solution. It also doesn't help pull people towards the greenest solutions either, you need tax reductions and exemptions for that.

        • Re:Tax increases (Score:5, Insightful)

          by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:48AM (#12728846)
          and of course the poorest are the hardest hit by tax increases

          Depends on how the tax is structured. If you just put a flat tax on gasoline, yes that is unfair. But if you tax by efficiency of the vehicle, and set a zero tax level at something reasonable like a 1.5L engine, then the impact should be small,

          • Re:Tax increases (Score:3, Insightful)

            Wtf? A flat tax on gas is unfair ... I'm so sick of you freaking liberals. Now every time you fill up at the gas station you have to submit an income form?

            Here's the straight story: you buy more gas, you pollute more, you use the roads more, you pay more tax. Get over your "woe is me, I'm a poor mofo" whining. If you want to start arguing about including a car efficiency factor or car weight factor in the tax, fine. Because those differences actually matter. But stop complaining because someone else worked
      • Actually, an even better method is to impose excise taxes on engine displacement and/or physical vehicle size like they do in Europe and Japan. That right there will quickly encourage auto manufacturers to come up with more efficient vehicles; indeed, if you look at the Honda Fit/Jazz and Civic models the shape and engine displacement of both models are determined by Japanese and European excise tax laws.
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by c0l0 ( 826165 )
    ... that means they got to trade in all their Intel x86 chips for AMD ones, right? ;)
  • by tota ( 139982 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:39AM (#12728607) Homepage
    let's not forget that,
    Japan is a leading car manufacturer (especially when it comes to "green" vehicles) so this would also benefit their economy.
    • Japan always had a lot of fuel efficient cars, thanks to the so-called Kei-class vehicles that limit engine size to 0.65 liters (it used to be 0.55 liters). Indeed, the original Japanese version of the Toyota Prius used a 0.65-liter I-4 engine, and it was only when the Prius was exported to the USA that they switched to a 1.5-liter I-4 engine and a larger battery pack.
  • This is not news. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:42AM (#12728616)
    After all, Japan always had to import 100% of their petroleum needs, hence the reason why they've always emphasized high energy efficiency. That's why Japan has such excellent public transportation and why Toyota embarked on that research project in the early 1990's that resulted in the groundbreaking Prius hybrid drivetrain vehicle.

    Also, because of Japan's very high population density and its huge demands on water, it's also the country where much of today's water-efficient plumbing originated. After all, it was the Japanese plumbing fixture company TOTO that helped originate the concept of not only low-flush toilets, but also toilets where you can choose the amount of water to use per flush for even higher water efficiency.
    • It is not only japan, environmental research is big over here as well... That is one one of the fields to move over in the long run, environmental research.
    • Also, Japan is an island, very much threatened by raising sea levels and increased stormy weather pattern caused by global warming, so their government understands that the Kyoto treaty is important for Japan's (and the world's) future. Kyoto can't stop global warming, but it is a start at least, and it is time to start acting.
      • Re:This is not news. (Score:3, Informative)

        by MtViewGuy ( 197597 )
        Actually, Japan has to confront the issue of sea levels all the time due to the fact the country sits on one of world's most geologically active areas with both earthquake and volcano dangers, which puts much of Japan's coastline at risk. Also, Japan built up quite a lot of housing on landfill out to sea, and given the unstable geology of the country, it's small wonder why sea levels are closely monitored in that country.
    • Japanese plumbing fixture company TOTO that helped originate the concept of not only low-flush toilets, but also toilets where you can choose the amount of water to use per flush for even higher water efficiency...

      Three settings. Poot, Flood and Tongs.

  • by Gurezaemon ( 663755 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:43AM (#12728619)
    I can't open the article (link down?), but I would not be surprised if this is yet another shady deal between the Japanese government and major manufacturers to keep people buying new products.

    The compulsory registration fees already make it expensive enough to run a car here, and suspect this is more of the same - "keep people purchasing, and keep the economy afloat." After all, it has worked for the last 50 years here.
  • Go Japan! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:44AM (#12728626) Homepage Journal
    As a geek, I love clever solutions. Japan has a great track record at applying technology to day to day problems. But a lot of Japan's creative energy has gone into miniaturization, which makes sense for a gregarious people who also happen to live on an island. But there's only so far you can go with that.Also, for us Americans, diminishing returns with diminishing gadget size comes a lot sooner than it does for the Japanese.

    I also don't think as a country you can look to Americans to develop much in the way in efficiency technologies. Our mentality when faced with shortage is to go out and find or create some more. But efficiency is just as valid a sphere for creativity as production, and it works just as well I think; better in some scenarios.
  • Huh? Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:48AM (#12728640)
    I live in Japan and I haven't seen any national campaign. Besides, it's not like anyone keeps anything for more than 2 years here anyway. People are already replacing their old stuff with new stuff too frequently. As much as Japan loves to say how energy efficient they are, I have to wonder what all this facination with new products ends up costing energy-wise.

    And it's not like the newer products have any reason to exist sometimes. I just got done fighting with my oven for an hour because my idea of an oven (a box that gets hot into which you put raw food and remove it when it's cooked) is very different from what the Toshiba marketing department came up with (a box with a million digital buttons on the front that ultimately control a big heating coil and a frickin' timer--but does so in the most circuitous and bizarre manner possible, so you know it's advanced).
    • Re:Huh? Where? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bushcat ( 615449 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:34AM (#12728792)
      Noticed when you buy something now you can choose whether to pay the recycling tax now, or wait until the end-of-life in the hope it will be cheaper then? PET bottles in our area have to be returned to convenience stores and can't go in our trash. We also have to sort our trash into into abotu 6 categories. A fried down south has to sort into 12 categories. The ubiquitous water pot now uses up to 70% less electricity than models 3 years ago. All white goods have to carry efficiency ratings. 30% of the flat surface of new buildings must be grassed, including the roof. There's less wrapping on gifts at department stores now. Thermostats in government offices have been increased from 25 to 28 or 29 C for the summer. Government employees are being encouraged to stop wearing jackets and ties from June to September. Trucks and buses are encouraged not to idle when stationary. I dunno, maybe you don't watch Japanese TV.
    • I just got done fighting with my oven for an hour [...]
      Kung-fu fighting?
  • by TERdON ( 862570 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:52AM (#12728651) Homepage
    In Sweden, experimental 0-liter houses (without heating at all except inhabitants and appliances) have already been [] built [] (sorry, Swedish only). Sweden is a bit colder than Germany (have lived in both countries so I have own experience about that one). Go figure. Or maybe we Swedes just tend to be more nerdy and more often have our own Beowulf clusters as heaters. :P
  • By underclocking their computers in order to save electricity and slow global warming.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:13AM (#12728715) Homepage Journal
    Is that China uses 11.5x the energy of Japan for the same industrial output. (I'm assuming that means equal in $). Are factories in China that much less efficient than their Japanese counterparts? Or is it the type of manufacturing currently done in China is in general more energy hungry than the manufacturing done in Japan?
    • Are factories in China that much less efficient than their Japanese counterparts?

      Yes. The low cost of labor makes it economically unattractive to invest in capital equipment.

    • This is correct. China likes using coal for its energy needs. Also, in some parts of China the infrastructure is not stable yet. It is not uncommon to see plants and factories to have their own generators of electricity that are powered by gas.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:17AM (#12728735) Homepage Journal
    -Unbelievable that this little piece of junk could be such a big problem. NO wonder this circuit failed. It says, 'Made in Japan'.

    -What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.


  • By law remove the "soft" standby switches on appliances that have no earthly reason to spend most of their lives consuming power while doing nothing. E.g. TV sets, washing machines, DVD players.

    In conjunction with that slap a heavy tax on offices for night time use of power to force them to force their employees to turn off all non-essential equipment like desktop computers, monitors, lights etc. when no one is there to use them.

    • Actually, the computer industry has already made strides saving energy by doing two things:

      1. Mandating the use of VESA DDC-2 power saving techniques that automatically switches a CRT monitor into low-power saving and near-zero power use "OFF" modes. People forget CRT monitors, especially the larger screen sizes, can use hundreds of watts of power.

      2. Switching everyone to LCD displays, which uses a quarter to a third of the power of CRT displays. These also benefit for VESA DDC-2 power saving techniques.
  • It's real (Score:4, Informative)

    by mattr ( 78516 ) <.mattr. .at.> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:40AM (#12728813) Homepage Journal
    It's real. Just about all major Japanese firms are taking serious steps to reduce environmental impact and also to comply with personal information protection act, all the way down to rewriting their articles of incorporation. The former is part due to the government and part due to pr benefits. The government is serious about it mainly I would expect because their claim to fame on the global stage, i.e. the proof they are fit to get a permanent seat on the security council, is their ability to lead Asia and be a diplomatic power.. the result of the Kyoto accord however is that it is very hard to live up to their promise. As it happens the Chairman of Toyota is also the head of the federal industry organization, and is located in Nagoya which is where the World Expo is currently running, neither of which hurt. Not versed in what other incentives may be provided though. Environmental programs are extremely visible in all parts of Japanese companies now, including product R&D, sales, advertising, etc. For example there is an air conditioner out now (EcoCute) that uses carbon dioxide as a refrigerant, and uses a heat pump to pull heat from the air and use only nighttime electricity for a 300% efficiency gain IIRC.
  • Japan's air conditioning costs (in Tokyo at least) is partly due to the overconstruction of skyscrapers. The density of the skyscrapers prevents airflow from the ocean from ever reaching the central part of the city, and although I forgot the statistic, there's been a very large rise in the average temperature over the last 50 years after Tokyo was rebuilt.

    So it's not just about throwing away a car for a more efficient one. More efficient city planning would have prevented rising temp costs. But the Ja

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:55AM (#12728870)
    > The government recently introduced a national campaign, urging the Japanese to replace their older appliances and buy hybrid vehicles, all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming

    And Japan will succeed. Meanwhile, here in America, our government and big bisiness seem to be each others' ally as their policies still encourage heavy dependence on foreign oil and the use of fuel-inefficient vehicles! No wonder the best selling cars are Japanese.

    It seems all the so called American innovation is no where to be seen. I'd like to know in which field America is leading the world.

    We fly the oldest fleet of passenger aircraft among the industrialised countries,

    All our electronics are Asian imports,

    We are outsourcing our industrial base to the extent that the home grown textile industry is under seige,

    I hear with the present policies, almost one-half of our defense hardware will be manufactured by foreign companies by 2018!

    Briliant academicians now rather to to Scandinavia than come to USA,

    Our healthcare system is the worst performer in the G7, even Cuba beats us in some cases, and on and on and on.

    I pitty the generations to come.

    • I have an advice for you. If this is that bad, if you can't take it anymore, why not move somewhere else? Why not quit your fucking day job and becoming a miner in a third world country. Then I will pitty you.

      • by moz25 ( 262020 )
        The main fallacy you're using here is False Dilemma. Obviously, there are a lot more options than the two extremes you're giving and it's easily observed that he's using one not in your list: making a complaint about the way things are going, likely in an attempt to go for improvement. Possibly, you're just trolling. In that case: congratulations, someone took the bait.
    • Wow. It really got to you losing that election.

      Swift Boat bastards...
  • by $criptah ( 467422 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @10:15AM (#12728958) Homepage

    This is working out quite well, I must admit. If we get Japan and other countries to decrease their energy usage and drop their demand for oil, we'll get cheaper oil if the production does not slow down!

    With that, I will finally be able to get a Ford Excursion or a Hummer (H2, not the pussy H3 version) a good gas-loving asphalt-ripping sports car and cheap gas that I can pump on a daily basis without destroying my wallet.

  • by thelizman ( 304517 ) <hammerattack@yaho o . c om> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @11:04AM (#12729184) Homepage
    So, it's news that Japan is pushing for more efficient poweruse, but Slashdot have never mentioned how the Bush Energy Plan promotes the use of high efficiency appliances, such as no-power standby devices which don't consume power to maintain a ready state. In spite of the obstruction from members of Congress, Bush has already allocated some $77 million for research and development of high efficiency appliances like waterheaters that use a heat pump to efficiently warm water instead of a wasteful heating element (the element also corrodes and taints water).

    I have a live, and can't be here to pimp the President's energy policy 24/7. It's disconcerting to see that Slashdot goes all the way to Japan for a story taking place in their own back yard.
  • by Miaowara ( 867435 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @11:35AM (#12729331)
    From BBC news: "Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is leading the way A wave of informality is due to sweep through Japan with a government campaign to persuade office workers to abandon their jackets and ties." 329.stm []
  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @02:55PM (#12730356) Homepage
    A Toyota Prius or Honda Civic Hybrid model that I could plug into a wall outlet for the night to reduce fuel consumption even further. It's a pity they can't recharge like that.

    Even better, a _diesel_ Toyota Prius that can recharge the same way. That thing would get 50mpg from the engine alone, plus synergy drive would probably drive fuel consumption down even further.

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