Killing Three Birds with One Stone: Steps Towards Japan 2020



This article is a semi-fictional story with a standard essay embedded in it. It takes readers onto an exciting journey with Anarugi, a Sports History student at Salt Lake University who travels to Japan in the summer of 2020 for the Olympic Games and the exploration of her research topic. What she sees, hears, and experiences in Japan prompts her to find out how this country is able to achieve its critical goals for the year of 2020. It turns out that the question could be answered by a planning report < Killing Three Birds with One Stone: Steps towards Japan 2020>, where three goals, four resources, and five sectors are identified to lead Japan to a successful 2020. The three goals include the Kyoto Protocol commitment, the Olympic Games, and the smart meter target. The four important resources are off-shore and urban renewable energy potential, major hotels and Olympic venues in the Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone, smart grid and smart meter technologies, and human resources in the related fields. The five sectors involved consist of educational sector, industrial sector, utility sector, service sector, and government sector. (Their relationships are illustrated in Appendix A.) Inspired by the report, Anarugi decides to conduct further research into the topic and share Japan’s experience with the world.

Killing Three Birds with One Stone: Steps Towards Japan 2020

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are going to land in Narita Airport in 25 minutes. The local time is 1:55 PM, July 23, 2020. If you are planning to attend the Olympics Opening Ceremony tomorrow, please check the local traffic before you go…” Anarugi rubbed her eyes and started to wake up after a 13-hour trans-Pacific flight. Growing up on a farm near Salt Lake City, she had never left the U.S. and traveled this far.

Until now.

As Anarugi lifted up the window shade, a strong beam of sunlight immediately passed through, falling onto her face. She pulled the shade down a little bit to make sure she could see this country clearly. “Gee! Look at this!” She was immediately amazed by rows and rows of wind turbines standing in the ocean, with a number of buoys floating around each one of them. “If you look out of the window now, you’ll see one of the largest offshore wind-wave energy farms in Japan. These facilities are designed to generate electricity from both wind and wave.” The flight attendant described.

The airplane landed smoothly and stably. Anarugi turned on her cell phone, and within seconds an email came in and grabbed her attention. “Dear Anarugi, congratulations again on winning this year’s Travel Award for Sports History Undergraduates. Please save all the receipts related to your trip to Japan for reimbursement, and send me your research topic once you finalize it so that I can post it on the History Seminar agenda. We are looking forward to knowing your findings! Have a great time in Japan, and don’t forget to take a lot of pictures!–Sarah Smith, Executive Assistant to the Department Chair, History Department, Salt Lake University”.

“Oh, god! Pressure is on. Research topic…research topic…I know I’m going to do something about sports. I know I’m going to do something about history. I hope that thing has to do with Olympics. But what exactly is that thing? I have no idea!” Anarugi had been bothered by this for two months since she found out she won the award because of her high Grade Point Average (GPA).

Putting the thoughts aside for a moment, Anarugi now hopped on the airport limousine bus, which was going to take her directly to the hotel. On her way there she was fascinated by the skyscrapers along the highway and the billboards that featured the Olympic themes. She seemed very excited because prior to this trip, the largest city she had been to was Salt Lake City, where buildings were not nearly as high and billboards were not nearly as many.

After a 1.5-hour drive, the limousine pulled into Olympia Hotel’s parking lot. Anarugi got off the bus, and found herself standing on a surface made up of hundreds of dark tiles. “Aren’t they…?” “Yes, they are solar panels. Welcome to Olympia Hotel”, said a hotel receptionist, who was standing next to the bus door. “Almost all the major hotels near the venues of the Olympic Games, as well as the venues themselves, have replaced their roofs, parking lots, and even outdoor recreational areas with solar panels. Some street signs, warning signings, and landscape designs also use solar panels with LED lights embedded in them, so we don’t have to paint them over and over again.” Anarugi’s jaw dropped when hearing this.

The hotel she stayed at was a LEED Platinum “green hotel”. Besides the solar panels, the building had adopted a variety of other environmental practices to achieve its sustainability goals, such as water savings, natural lighting, and food waste recycling. After she checked in with the front desk, Anarugi took the luggage with her and went straight ahead into the dining area for the buffet dinner. Fresh sashimi, Udon noodles, crispy tempura, Miso soup…She filled her stomach with the best Japanese food she had ever had.

At the end of the dinner she was about to throw the food wastes away. Suddenly a sign came into sight that read “Please place your food waste in this box. We will turn it into energy”. “Turning food waste into energy? This is for real?” Anarugi remembered learning about the concept from her Environmental Sciences class, but this was truly happening right now right in front of her. She continued reading, “Our local haulers collect post-consumption food scraps from hotels, restaurants, and other dining places on a daily basis and feed them into anaerobic digesters, where bacteria will break down the food waste and release methane, a gas that can be captured and burned for electricity. We are expecting to see an increasing amount of food waste during the Olympic Games, so please be patient while waiting to access this food waste bin”.

“If all the food scraps of mine are used, how much electricity do they generate? If all the food scraps of our family are used, how much then? What if the entire university’s food wastes are collected?” Anarugi kept thinking while walking to her room. The room was equipped with a king-size bed. After such a long trip, this was exactly what she needed. She ran into the room and jumped onto the bed with all her strength. The bed was so comfortable! The pillow smelled so good!

From the corner of her left eye, she noticed a card sitting on the pillow. “Dear Guest at Olympia Hotel, 2020 is a very special year to Japan. We are proudly hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Games in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. We are proudly showcasing our progress in the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol which ends this year. We are proudly announcing that virtually all of Japan’s 80 million homes have smart meters installed by 2020…” What stunning achievements! How resilient! Anarugi recalled that the Fukushima disaster ten years ago had almost destroyed this country. How did Japan manage to do all this within a decade? She was prompted to search for the answer. Anarugi sat up, took out her laptop, and tried to log into the History of Modern Asia Database of her university. Whoops! An error message kept popping up:”Access Denied”. She gave a heavy sigh and lay back down on bed. “OK. Let’s discover it tomorrow…yeah…discover tomorrow…” She closed her eyes without knowing if she was talking about the computer issue or was just repeating the Olympic slogan.

The next day this adventurous girl got to the Olympic Stadium very early but only to find out that thousands of visitors had already arrived. They had different skin colors, spoke different languages, and dressed in different styles. One thing in common, however, was that they all showed the joys and excitements on their faces and were all in full, eager anticipation for the Opening Ceremony in a couple of hours. Anarugi opened up her map, trying to find the entrance that she should be going through. “Entrance…Entrance…Letter E…” As she went down the list of the directory, an item caught her eyes. “Maybe they can fix my problem?” she thought. Anarugi decided to stop by that place before going into the stadium.

“Hello! Welcome to Electrical, Electronic, and IT Services. How can we help you?” A Japanese girl of a similar age asked. “Hi, my computer did not let me sign into a database of my university. I have never had this problem when I was on campus. Could you help me with that?” “Sure! Could you show me the database page on your computer please?” Anarugi turned on her laptop and opened up the webpage. The Japanese girl quickly scanned the settings and downloaded an application. “Now you should be able to log in through this portal.” Anarugi tried again, and it worked!

“You’ll need to use this application when you log in with an off-campus IP address.” “I see! Thank you so much! Oh, by the way, my name is Anarugi. May I ask your name please? ” “You can call me Yuki.” “Thanks again Yuki! You’ve helped me big time. I’m on my research trip right now, and it would be extremely inconvenient for me if I’m not able to use the database.” “Are you a student?” Yuki asked curiously. “Yeah, I’m a Sports History major from Salt Lake University. How about you?” “I’m a student of Electrical Engineering for Smart Grids at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.” “Smart grids?” Anarugi didn’t think this major was available at her university. “Yeah, actually most of the volunteers here at Electrical, Electronic, and IT Services are students studying this field at various technical schools in Japan.” Yuki smiled.

Anarugi found it hard to believe, “and you are here to…to…fix people’s computers?” “We are here to help with visitors’ electronic devices and problems related to Information Technology. But more importantly, our major mission is to make sure the smart grids, especially the microgrids, of the Olympic Stadium are working properly.” Yuki explained. “I’m sorry, Yuki, you say microgrid? What’s that?” Anarugi became more confused. “A microgrid is a small grid that can run as a part of a larger grid; it can also operate independently of the larger grid. The majority of the venues during the Olympic Games have the microgrid backups, which can work independently without affecting the energy supply when the main grid is down.”

Anarugi was fascinated by this concept, and kept asking questions. “What are the energy sources for these microgrids?” “Very good question, we are trying to use as much clean energy as possible such as solar and wind, and support the system with energy storage technologies.” Yuki answered patiently. “You are not using diesel generators?” Anarugi was surprised, because she recalled when she and her dad went to the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake in 2002, she saw diesel generator trucks all over the place. “Diesel generators can be dirty and noisy, and require fuel to be transported from somewhere else, so we are trying to minimize the use of them and replace them with local, renewable sources in combination of storage technologies.” Anarugi nodded. “Here is my card. Please feel free to contact me if you need any help.” Yuki gave her a business card, which listed two titles: “Student at Tokyo Institute of Technology” and “Volunteer for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games”. Anarugi accepted the card and thanked again.

After she left the Electrical, Electronic, and IT Services, she followed the direction signs and went straight into the stadium. The girl quickly found her seat and settled down to wait. The past 24 hours had been overwhelming for her: the advanced infrastructures, technologies, sustainable architectures, and everything! She suddenly remembered something, so she turned on her laptop, opened the History of Modern Asia Database, and typed a few key words: “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games” “Kyoto Protocol” “Smart Meters” “Microgrids”. Hit “Search”. A report immediately showed up. “Interesting.” She said to herself, as she started reading. The main part of the report answered the question she had for a while.

Killing Three Birds with One Stone: Steps Towards Japan 2020


Three Goals for 2020

The year of 2020 will be of great significance in the history of Japan. The country is expected to reach a target of a 3.8% emission reduction in 2020 compared to the 2005 level, as the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends[1]. By 2020, the majority of the residential customers in Japan, if not all, would have smart meters installed in their homes[2]. Last but not least, the XXXII Olympic Games and the XVI Paralympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020, drawing the attention from all over the world to the country[3]. Is Japan able to kill three birds with one stone? In other words, is Japan able to meet all three challenges by adopting one common strategy? What resources are available for the country to accomplish the goals? What should the country do between now and then to better utilize its resources? This report aims to explore a variety of critical resources that Japan currently owns and comes up with a strategic plan for the country to exploit the resources in order to create a successful 2020.

Four Important Resources

The author would like to place emphasis on four resources that are critical in meeting the three goals mentioned above: off-shore and urban renewable energy potential, major hotels and Olympic venues in the Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone, smart grid and smart meter technologies, and human resources in the related fields.

Off-shore renewable potential should not be neglected in Japan. For example, the country is estimated to have 1572 GW off-shore wind capacity potential[4, 5]. The tidal energy potential is equivalent to twenty nuclear power plants[6]. Off-shore wind energy and marine energy could also be developed hand in hand to become a hybrid facility. These off-shore resources will not only supply renewable energy to Japan’s energy portfolio, but will also serve as a magnificent view to impress flight passengers flying to Japan and demonstrate to them that the country has put many efforts into developing clean energy. Additionally, renewable energy could be further incorporated into the urban landscape. For instance, solar panels could be installed on building roofs, parking lots, outdoor recreational areas, and many basic urban infrastructures. Food wastes from restaurants and hotels could be converted into energy through anaerobic digesters. Absorbing renewables into the daily life will enhance the public’s understanding of these technologies and will leave people with a positive, strong impression that Japan takes technology seriously and seeks to improve life quality through the adoption of these technologies.

Major hotels and game venues in the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone should pay more attention to their sustainable practices. Tokyo plans to offer 87,000 hotel rooms for visitors in a 10 kilometer radius of Olympic Village, and 140,000 hotel rooms in a 50 kilometer radius[7]. There are thirty-nine game venues in total that are spread out in the two zones[8].Setting sustainable targets for these buildings is a strong signal that Japan hopes to hold the Olympic Games in an environmentally sustainable manner. Sustainable practices could include, but are not limited to, water conservation, natural lighting, energy efficiency, and using recycled building materials. Crucial buildings should be encouraged to apply for the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Certification Rating to have their efforts acknowledged and certified. Staying at a “green” hotel and watching a game at a sustainable venue could be a very special experience to a visitor.

In order to keep electricity reliable during the games, Tokyo may be interested in looking into smart grid technologies, especially the microgrid technology, which can run independently of the larger grid when needed. The flexibility of a microgrid and the compatibility of it with the larger grid give the technology considerable advantages in maintaining the reliability of electricity. The installation of the smart grids should accommodate the use of another technology: smart meters. Eighty million residential customers in Japan are expected to have smart meters in their homes in the 2020s[2]. Designing a smart grid with a goal for smart meters in mind may lead to a better outcome than done separately.

Human resources are fundamentally vital for the success of these technology-driven fields. KOSEN Colleges of Technology and other technical schools could consider providing advanced courses or degree programs to train students to install, maintain, operate, service, and repair renewable energy systems, green building systems, and smart grid/smart meter systems. Comprehensive universities might look into the research and design of these systems and educate students to further advance the technologies. Students in both technical schools and large universities in Japan are considerable human resources to be developed.

Five-Sector Collaboration

In order to meet the three goals for 2020 and sufficiently exploit the four critical resources, Japan may need to adopt a cross-sector approach and encourage transdisciplinary collaborations. Five sectors that could be heavily involved in the process include educational sector, industrial sector, utility sector, service sector, and government sector. Their potential roles are listed as follows, respectively.

  1. Educational Sector: The educational institutions in Japan could start creating training programs, research opportunities, and outreach services around renewable energy, green buildings, and smart technologies. This could take place at both the technical school level and the comprehensive university level. The former could be focused on training technicians in the field, while the latter could emphasize the designing, engineering, and scientific research aspects. In addition, the educational sector can partner with industrial sector to jointly conduct research and development (R&D) on these technologies. Educational grant incentives from the Japanese government would be of great help. Subsequently, the educational sector would provide talents and intellectuals to all other four sectors.
  2. Industrial Sector: The applications of these technologies mostly rely on the industrial sector in Japan. Developers, manufacturers, as well as architects will all play significant roles in promoting the applications of the technologies, especially those within the Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone. The Japanese government could offer tax credits, grants, as well as R&D funding to enhance the applications. The utility sector and the service sector could be the major potential consumers who adopt the technologies.
  3. Utility Sector: Renewable energy, such as wind and solar, is intermittent, because wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. Utilities need to plan for the integration of these intermittent resources, using hydropower facilities, pumped storage, or other technologies. Utilities needs also to ensure that smart meters are safe to be installed in that there are a number of cases where smart meters caused fires[9]. As for smart grid, utilities could try to develop a few pilot projects, such as a microgrid for an Olympic venue, to gain a better understanding of the technology before applying it at a larger scale. Based upon their knowledge, utilities could provide the feedback regarding products to their industrial business partners who in turn could conduct research to improve the quality and the designs of the products.
  4. Service Sector: Hotels and restaurants in the Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone may want to create a Waste-To-Energy program, where they can offer the food scraps to bioenergy plants and convert food wastes to renewable energy. They could also provide their roofs, parking lots, and other outdoor space to install solar panels to promote the sustainability of the buildings. They can sell the power generated to the utility sector, and participate in demand side management programs to enhance energy efficiency and energy conservation. The government could provide incentives to encourage the service sector to adopt the new technologies. The applications of the technologies, in return, can serve as demonstrations and showcases to students in these fields.
  5. Government Sector: The government sector may provide educational grants to technical schools and comprehensive universities to create training and research opportunities in renewable energy, green buildings, and smart technologies. It may also offer tax credits or rebates to businesses that adopt these technologies. Tax credits, rebates, and Research and Development (R&D) incentives are also important to manufacturers, energy developers, and other companies in the industrial sector. The regulatory policies for the utilities sector need to be well-designed, too. For example, how should the costs of the smart grid be allocated? Should they be allocated to different classes (i.e. industrial, residential, and commercial)[10]? Who should pay for the integration of renewable energy? The developers or the ratepayers? The overall cross-sector relationships are illustrated in Appendix A.



“Wow, three goals, four resources, and five sectors.” Anarugi was deeply absorbed in the report. “Would that be an interesting research topic?!” She began contemplating a research project in her mind. “I want the whole world to know about this…Yes!” Anerugi seemed determined. She logged into her email and started writing. “Dear Ms. Smith, thank you for your message. I have arrived in Japan safe and sound, and have decided on my research topic, which is “Good Planning is Halfway to Success: Sharing with the World How Japan Strategically Utilized Its Resources to Meet Critical Goals for 2020 and Evaluating its Plan from a Sports History Perspective”. Please feel free to post it on our History Seminar agenda. Thanks for your help! I will see you in a couple of weeks! Anarugi”

Send! As soon as she hit the “SEND” button, a loud voice came out of the speakers. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2020 Tokyo Olympics! The opening ceremony will be starting in ten seconds. Let’s begin counting down! Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!” The entire stadium was fired with enthusiasm, and Anarugi was fully immersed in the joy of the crowd.

Word Count: 3452.

  1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Submission by the Government of Japan regarding its quantified economy-wide emission reduction target for 2020.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  2. Navigant Research. “In Japan, smart meters accelerate.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  3. Tokyo 2020. “Tokyo 2020.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  4. Global Energy Network Institute. “How is 100% renewable energy possible in Japan by 2020?” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  5. 平成22年度環境省委託事業. “平成22年度再生可能エネルギー導入ポテンシャル調査.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  6. Okayama University. “Pendulum power: Innovative pendulum-dynamo for converting tidal energy into electrical power.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  7. The Wall Street Journal. “Tokyo promises to meld technology, tradition with 2020 Olympics.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  8. Tokyo 2020. “Venue plan.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  9. Ted Sickinger. “PGE replacing 70,000 electricity meters because of fire risk.” Accessed August 27, 2014.
  10. Electric Power Research Institute. “Estimating the costs and benefits of the smart grid: A preliminary estimate of the investment requirements and the resultant benefits of a fully functioning smart grid.” Accessed August 27, 2014.




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