Japan Follows U.S. in Greentech Strategies

In green technology, the U.S. usually follows Japan. But right now,the U.S. seems to have the edge in some ways, and Japan is takingnotice.

That’s the word from Hayashi Sakawa, one of the founders of AgileMedia, a blog network based in Tokyo. Japan has been one of the largestmarkets in the world for solar panels and energy efficient cars. Still,the whole concept of a green industry was typically viewed as somethingof a fringe movement until recently. But now that the market for bigscreen TVs and digital cameras is booming, two product lines that Japanprofited enormously from in the middle part of the decade, green isgetting another look.

"Almost all of the industrial giants like Toyota, Nissan, Panasonic,Sharp, etc. are eyeing greentech as the seemingly sole ‘promised land’for their recovery as well as the seed of their future corebusinesses," he wrote in an email.

Again, Sharp and Toyota have made, respectively, solar panels andenergy efficient cars for year. But expect greater emphasis on theselines, as well as emphasis from Panasonic on things like low-power TVs.Research is already underway to link consumer electronics into demand response programs and smart grids. (A Panasonic exec also told me last year they will put a greater emphasis on building green homes and condominiums.)

The government is also crafting a number of policies to drive themarket, including a feed-in tariff. "The current minister of METI (thegovernment agency in charge of industrial policy), a guy namedToshihiro Nikai, met with Steven Chu in Washington," he wrote. The twonations agreed to collaborate on R&D into nuclear technology, smartgrid and other subjects.

And the current minister of METI, a guy named Nikai, met with Steven Chu (the chiefof DOE) in Washington DC on last Monday.

"The national government looks ready to dole out subsidies," Sakawa wrote.



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