• Kyodo News


Tapping into the environmental friendliness trend, the government launched an economic stimulus program Friday aimed at boosting demand for energy-efficient home electronics products.

As one of the pillars of an economic stimulus package adopted earlier by the government, the ¥290 billion subsidy program effective through next March features so-called eco-points worth ¥1 each that will be given to consumers who purchase certain household appliances that meet energy-efficiency criteria.

Although currently the points can’t be used, the government plans to announce more details of the program before the summer bonus season in early July, officials said.

In addition to energy-efficient refrigerators and air conditioners, purchases of terrestrial-digital television sets are also subsidized, apparently in an attempt to assist a government drive to digitize the country’s TV broadcasts by July 2011.

Consumers receive eco-points worth 5 percent of the price of the air conditioners and refrigerators and about 10 percent of those of the televisions, some of which are worth as much as 36,000 points.

Details of the campaign, which runs through next March, will possibly be released next month after the Diet passes a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year to fund the program.

On Friday, electronics stores nationwide banking on the latest subsidy program started labeling about 2,000 products as eligible for the program.

Consumers are required to submit their receipts and product guarantees to the program’s office to obtain eco-points.

The government plans to formally set up the office after the Diet approves the budget. All details concerning the program will be discussed within the office, government officials said.

The government has yet to announce which goods and services consumers will be able to exchange the points for, but said it is considering things such as other appliances, coupons that can be used throughout the country and prepaid cards for public transportation.

It may be as early as summer that consumers can start exchanging their points, the officials said.

Manabu Fukuchi, senior consultant on energy and environment at Nomura Research Institute, said the program is likely to fall short of immediately boosting demand and consumption.

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