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The Environment Ministry has decided to provide funding from April for the promotion of an electrical energy-saving mechanism for homes.

The junction-box device is about the size of a laptop computer and is equipped to regulate electrical power at 100 volts.

The project is part of Japan’s efforts to fight global warming by reducing emissions from homes and offices, according to ministry officials.

Implementation of such mechanisms is targeted for fiscal 2003, beginning April 1.

The ministry’s move is in response to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrialized countries to slash greenhouse-gas emissions from 1990 levels by an average of 5.2 percent between 2008 and 2012. Japan, which ratified the international accord on global warming in June 2002, is required to cut 6 percent.

To finance the project, the ministry plans to submit a 300 million yen budget to the 150-day regular Diet session convening Jan. 20, they said.

According to the officials, central and prefectural governments will shoulder two-thirds of the cost — amounting to some 150,000 yen.

They expect around 6,000 households to have the new system installed in the initial fiscal year.

Electrical power for household use is set at 100 volts, but it varies from 98 to 107 volts depending on supply and demand. The nationwide average is 103 volts.

Some major businesses have already put such a device into use as part of cost-cutting measures. NTT Data Corp. will begin sales of the household devices from spring.

The officials said lowering the voltage by 3 volts will reduce energy consumption by 6 percent. For homes paying about 110,000 yen per year for electricity, the new mechanism is estimated to reduce electricity costs by around 6,600 yen.

A 1 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the government, civilian and business sectors would be realized, according to the officials, if the new equipment were installed in all homes in Japan.

For the civilian sector alone, they hoping to decrease such emissions by 10 percent compared with 1990 levels.

According to the officials, the role of the civilian sector is vital to achieving the country’s targets stipulated in the protocol. But they said there is a limit to relying on the goodwill of individuals to use electricity more economically.

Also, local governments are studying the creation of guidelines for such power-saving equipment amid concerns that some manufacturers might sell inferior products.

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