Rikuzentakata, like many towns on Japan’s rugged north-east Pacific coast, was in decline even before last year’s tsunami killed 1 700 of its 24 000 inhabitants and destroyed most of its downtown buildings.
With two-thirds of the remaining residents homeless, mayor Futoshi Toba questioned whether the town could recover. Damage to infrastructure and the local economy, he said, would force people to move away to find jobs.
Sixteen months later, the town is trying to rebuild in a way that Toba says will reinvent the region and provide a model to overcome obstacles that have hobbled the Japanese economy for more than 20 years: the fastest-ageing population in the developed world, loss of manufacturing competitiveness to China and South Korea and reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Samsung Mobile Display Co Ltd (SMD) developed a 4.5-inch OLED panel that can be bent with a curvature radius of 10mm and exhibited it at FPD International 2010/Green Device 2010.
The most distinctive feature of the panel is its pixel count of 800 x 480 (WVGA), which is equivalent to that of a panel used for existing smart phones and mobile phones. SMD’s existing OLED panel has a size of 6.5 inches and a pixel count of 480 x 272 (See related article).
The new display is 240μm thick. Low-temperature polysilicon TFTs were formed on a polyimide substrate. The structure of its organic EL element is the top-emission type, which extracts light in the direction opposite to the TFT substrate.
Sumitomo Corp., JGC Corp. and Electric Power Development Co. and other companies are cooperating with the government to sell geothermal power technology overseas.
Twenty companies, including Itochu Corp., Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., have set up a working group to promote the Japanese technology, said Hiroyuki Kudo, general manager of the international cooperation division at the Energy Conservation Center, which serves as the group’s secretariat.
The group plans to first pursue opportunities in Indonesia, where demand for geothermal power is forecast to increase, said Satoshi Nakamura, assistant director of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
Japan and Indonesia have agreed to cooperate on building infrastructure for geothermal power, Nakamura said.
There’s good news for the environment this week. A trio of Japanese companies announced plans to make the auto industry cleaner, not by addressing the car-produced pollution, but through the high-tech refits of their leviathan transport ships.
The Hybrid Car Carrier project led by Sanyo, Mitsubishi and shipper Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), aims by 2012 to create a car container ship that relies on solar power for part of its journey.
In order to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, the group is working on a hybrid solar/diesel ship that uses photovoltaic solar panels laid out on deck to generate power during part of its voyage.
That power will be stored in massive lithium-ion batteries capable of pumping out up to 3,000kW/h –- enough to replace the output of the ship’s traditional engines, at least while docking in port.
Greg McNevin of Greenpeace International told us, “This is a positive development, as is any saving of CO2 emissions in the long run, but shipping is still extremely dirty.”
There was a time when going green and doing business simply did not mix.
At best, the term “green business” was perceived as a corporate social responsibility slogan that had little to do with profitability.
In addition to pressure for generating profit amid the prolonged recession, many companies face the specter of meeting stringent targets for emissions cuts. Thus, “green” and “business” have become inseparable.
The players in this regard were long limited to trading houses or utilities. Now companies ranging from a restaurant chain to a construction company and even small and mid-size companies have thrown their hats into the ring.
The Hokkaido factory of Aleph Inc., which operates the Bikkuri Donkey family restaurant chain, is one of those at the forefront of this new era.
The company’s facility is in Eniwa, south of Sapporo. Aside from processing food to be served at the restaurants, the plant now generates profits through the development and sales of emissions-reduction technology.
Japan on Friday launched an H2A rocket carrying its Ibuki satellite on a mission to monitor greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The Ibuki satellite is to observe for five years the concentration of carbon dioxide and methane, which cause global warming, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which makes the H2A rocket.
The development cost for the greenhouse-gas monitoring satellite was $206 million, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. The satellite is to measure levels of greenhouse gases at 56,000 locations around the globe.
The launch took place at the Tanegashima Space Centre in the southern province of Kagoshima and included seven smaller satellites that were developed by universities, private businesses, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The other satellites will be used to study communications functions.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries hopes to boost its space business if this mission succeeds, the Jiji Press reported.