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 taking notice.
That's the word from Hayashi Sakawa, one of the founders of Agile Media, a blog network based in Tokyo. Japan has been one of the largest markets in the world for solar panels and energy efficient cars. Still, the whole concept of a green industry was typically viewed as something of a fringe movement until recently. But now that the market for big screen TVs and digital cameras is booming, two product lines that Japan profited enormously from in the middle part of the decade, green is getting 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 core businesses," he wrote in an email.
Again, Sharp and Toyota have made, respectively, solar panels and energy efficient cars for year. But expect greater emphasis on these lines, 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 the market, including a feed-in tariff. "The current minister of METI (the government agency in charge of industrial policy), a guy named Toshihiro Nikai, met with Steven Chu in Washington," he wrote. The two nations agreed to collaborate on R&D into nuclear technology, smart grid and other subjects.
And the current minister of METI, a guy named Nikai, met with Steven Chu (the chief of DOE) in Washington, D.C. on last Monday.
"The national government looks ready to dole out subsidies," Sakawa wrote.