Eco-point registrations, exchanges under way

Kyodo News

The government on Wednesday began accepting registrations from consumers for Eco-points introduced to encourage purchases of more efficient electric appliances as well as applications for exchanging points for merchandise, gift coupons and electronic money.

Encouraged by brisk appliance sales since the government launched the Eco-point program on May 15, retailers are poised to enhance their sales campaigns to coincide with the inauguration of registrations and point exchanges.

Under the Eco-point system, those who buy designated energy-saving appliances between May 15 and March 31 will be eligible for the points, with one Eco-point worth roughly ¥1.

Points given vary between 6,000 and 9,000 for air conditioners, depending on cooling power, 3,000 and 10,000 for refrigerators depending on capacity and 7,000 and 36,000 for televisions for terrestrial broadcasting depending on the size of screen.

Starting Wednesday, purchasers of these appliances may register Eco-points by mailing applications along with documents such as receipts and copies of product warranties to the Eco-point secretariat. These points may be exchanged for merchandise coupons, electronic money and other items of choice.

For instance, 13,500 Eco-points may be exchanged for ¥12,000 stored in a Suica electronic money card issued by East Japan Railway Co., while 5,000 points are exchangeable for ¥5,000 worth of department store coupons.

The Eco-point system has helped expand sales of energy-saving appliances even amid the current recession. A survey by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry indicates retail sales of these appliances in the June 15-21 week increased 10 percent from a year earlier.

Application forms are available at retail stores and post offices. A brochure of goods exchangeable with Eco-points can be seen at the Web site eco-points.jp opened by the government for the Eco-point system. Copies of the brochures are also available at electronics stores and post offices.