Faced with rising costs or difficult market conditions, many Japanese companies have improved their prospects by adopting environmentally friendly business strategies, with some going as far as moving into entirely new industry sectors.

A distiller in southwestern Japan and a precision equipment maker in the northeast are among companies that have successfully branched out into new, eco-friendly directions.

Kirishima Shuzo Co., producer of shōchū liquor, is making use of methane generated by sediment that is left over from its fermentation of sweet potatoes, used to make the distilled spirits.