February is Energy Conservation Month in Japan

  • Published
  • By Michael Haka and Sundae Knight
  • 374th Civil Engineering Squadron
The Japanese Energy Conservation Month in February was enacted as part of an evolving energy strategy focused on demand reduction and energy conservation.  In accordance with the Government of Japan's Energy Policy, The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) declared the following National Observances for Energy Conservation efforts in Japan:

"In order to continue to expand the energy-saving measures widely as a national movement, "Energy Conservation Day" (the first day of every month), "Energy Conservation Month" (every year in February), "Energy Conservation overhaul of Day" (December 1), " summer energy-saving overhaul of the day "is provided with a (August 1), local governments, in partnership with private companies, we conduct a focus of enlightenment and dissemination public relations activities."

Historically, Japan has always had limited domestic energy resources.  As an island nation, Japan is heavily dependent on imported energy to drive its economy.  Japan is the third largest oil consumer and net importer in the world behind the United States and China.  Furthermore, Japan ranks as the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and second-largest importer of coal behind China.  Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind provide for less than two percent of Japan's total power consumption.  Japan's domestic energy production supplies less than 9% of the country's total primary energy use since 2012.

Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster heighten Energy Awareness in Japan
After the Tōhoku earthquake in March 2011, Japan was in a seemingly impossible situation.  A tremendous amount of conventional generation capacity, including the entire nuclear fleet, was unavailable, and the country faced the risk of power cuts during summer consumption peaks.  The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that began on 11 March 2011, resulting in a meltdown of three of the plant's six nuclear reactors.  The failure occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the magnitude 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake.

Miraculously, Tokyo managed to forestall the rolling power cuts that many believed unavoidable due to the 20% removal of nuclear power production following the Fukushima plant accident.  So how did the Japanese manage to avert blackouts or rolling power cuts?  Japan overcame this daunting challenge by means of the cheapest and most widely applicable methods available: energy efficiency and conservation.  According to the official Japan Energy Conservation Handbook, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Nuclear Accident increased Energy Awareness in Japan and facilitated "long-term measures regarding energy supply and demand to be implemented in a comprehensive and systematic manner."

Much of the electricity savings were initialized by METI's Energy Conservation Awareness Campaign known as "Setsuden" ("saving electricity").  Simple conservation measures such as increasing temperatures in homes and offices, "thinning" lighting by removing some of the bulbs and tubes, shutting down big screens and cutting exterior lighting enabled Japan to dramatically reduce power demand almost overnight (albeit at the cost of a small amount of personal comfort).

Yokota AB also did our part to support the Government of Japan in its efforts to meet the challenges of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the resulting national energy production shortfall by shutting off the escalators in the YCC, shutting off lighting and using natural light from windows whenever possible, raising the temperature settings for HVAC systems, disabling outdoor lighting, and time shifting energy intensive tasks like laundry outside of peak demand hours.  These Energy Savings Initiatives saved more than 3, 540 Megawatts of electricity, resulting in an overall savings of approximately $431,000 for the base in addition to the increased Energy Awareness savings.

These "Setsuden" Energy Conservation Awareness Campaign measures have proven to have long-term impacts here in Japan.  They've dramatically increased the awareness of energy use and energy efficiency both off base and on. Per the Government of Japan's Strategic Energy Plan (April 2014), "After the TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear accident...the conditions have been already prepared between Japan and the U.S. for comprehensive cooperation regarding fossil fuels, renewable energy, energy conservation, nuclear power, smart community and the like."  Please continue to do your part to save energy along with our Japanese co-workers and friends off base for the month of February and all year long.  Yokota, you are Energy Champions!  If you have any energy savings ideas please contact your Energy Team!

Michael Haka
Energy/Utilities Manager
Yokota AB
DSN: 225-7283
COMM: +81-3117-55-7283


Ms. Sundae Knight, PE, CEM
Energy Programs Specialist
Yokota AB
DSN: 225-7046
COMM: +81-3117-55-7046