On July 1, a new law takes effect requiring utilities to purchase electricity generated from five renewable energy sources at a fixed price for a set length of time, under what is known as a feed-in tariff system.

The law was approved on the morning of March 11, 2011, by then Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet, just a few hours before the Great East Japan Earthquake and monster tsunami hit, claiming some 19,000 lives and putting the government's long-pushed nuclear power goals totally out of public favor.

It was the last piece of legislation passed in the Diet on Aug. 26, over stiff opposition from industry lobbies, utilities, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. Kan quit later that day.