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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 4, Electricity Deregulation.
In April 2016, the government liberalized retail laws of electricity, allowing greater choice for consumers in their power provider. In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

In the past, the electricity used by general households, businesses, etc., in Japan was provided by a single power company in each region.
A power company was determined for each region, such as TEPCO in Tokyo, and consumers were not offered any choice in provider.
However, in March 2000, power sales began to be liberalized for large scale factories, and since then more companies have entered the industry.
The move towards liberalization has accelerated as time has passed. Although the retail sales of power expanded to small and medium sized factories in 2005, it was still not available to general households.
However, the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that followed has resulted in growing public interest in electricity production and consumption.
Furthermore, worsening public opinion regarding energy problems, including distrust of the major power companies such as TEPCO, disaster prevention, and global warming, prompted the government to fully liberalize retail sales of electricity in April 2016.
Each household and office is now able to freely select a power company, and more and more new power companies have been entering the industry.
Energy-related companies, such as in the oil and gas industries, as well as communications companies and local governments have entered the market, resulting in real competition; it is expected that this will be beneficial to consumers.
On the other hand, despite this liberalization of power generation, the transmission of power is still under the monopoly of the traditional, main power company.
In other words, new power companies must pay expensive fees to transmit power, and the fees for this are passed on to electricity bills, resulting in higher costs charged to the consumer.
In this way, while conventional major power companies continue to have a strong influence, the problems of having numerous power transmissions has not yet been resolved and remains full of obstacles to overcome.


Those are the key facts about the electricity deregulation.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!