Open Government Lab &
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

The Problem

More and more people in Japan were expressing their own opinion on the government’s policy and interested in business using public data. To meet these growing needs with small team for open-government, the Japanese government tried to find an efficient framework to aggregate relevant activities and know-how. This framework, including many leading-edge efforts, was also required to allow the process of trial and error.
To tackle this challenge, METI set up “Open Government Lab”. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in this March, the Japanese government needed to establish a web-site to promote electricity saving. This web-site was required to promote public participation to enhance the interest and motivation of individuals and businesses as well as to provide information.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Open Government Lab &

Open Government Lab is the experimental website to examine measures regarding open government specifically. By centralizing initiatives promoting open government including “idea box” which is interactive website opened to gather idea from people, “databox” which publishes public data, and “wiki”, the website contributes to promote increased access to information about government activities as well as centralize the accumulated know-how. The website recorded 140,000 page views (PV) until the end of December 2011.
In addition, the Open Government Lab team provides suggestion and consultation for public agencies seeking for initiatives to enhance open government.
For example, saving electricity website “” was launched under our consultation in response to tighter electricity supply-demand balance due to the nuclear power situations.
The interactive website "" was launched in July 1st, 2011. That is formed by two parts of " for household" and “ for enterprises”. This website supports the 15% electricity saving in each household and enterprises within TEPCO(Tokyo Electric Power COmpany) and Tohoku EPCO areas through its contents. The website recorded 2,190,000 page views (PV) at the end of December 2011.

The following contents are incorporated so that each household can have fun conducting electricity saving activities on a continuous basis.
-Recognition of electricity use in the previous year, which will be the basis of the electricity saving measures and actual record of electricity saved in the current year.
-Creation of electricity saving menu in accordance with the actual situation of each household
-Group function which enables a group such as a company, schools or shopping district,etc to have a common goal to achieve.
-Provision of special prizes to participants and achievers from more than 60 companies and organizations, which have agreed the objectives of this system.

The following contents provide each enterprise.
-Creation of electricity saving menu in accordance with the actual situation of each enterprises.
-Statistics such as same industry.

In addition, Electric power supply data and consumption estimate data on this website is provided by re-usable format through Application Program Interface (API). Because of that, applications such as electrical meter were developed actively.The applications mentioned above contribute significantly to raise the consciousness of the people about participating in electricity saving activities.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The Cabinet Secretariat and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the METI were each determining to establish the electricity saving portal sites. They each asked Open Government Lab for a consultation on how the plan is to be implemented. We suggested them to establish the portal site which integrated both contents.
The Cabinet Secretariat worked as a coordinator to gather whole information of the government and built the top page. On the other hand, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the METI was in charge of the operation of the “site for households” and “site for enterprises”. Open government Team provided support in suggesting the contents of this participatory website and technical consultation in developing the website.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The purpose of the Open Government Lab is to establish the platform for Open Government which maintains cost- effective and high mobility. And the purpose of the electricity saving portal site is to support the 15% electricity saving in each household and enterprises within TEPCO and Tohoku EPCP areas through its contents.

Considering raise the consciousness of the public agencies about the importance of open government, we established the website to centralized information regarding open government including accumulated know-how and contact information. At the same time, we encourage the use of the website by putting its banner in website of other public agencies.
To promote continuous electricity saving activities, we strongly considered “” should be the participatory website. We, therefore, provide “electricity saving idea box” to share ideas for electricity saving for the front page. From among the opinions received through the electricity saving idea box, outstanding ideas and ideas applicable to ordinary people is selected and introduced as electricity saving ideas.
The site for households in “” provides information about the actual situation of each hold based on the data provided by TEPCO. Registering the “Declaration of household electricity saving”, participants and achievers receive special prizes, and more than 60 companies have already expressed their agreement with the objective of their system and co-sponsorship for participation prizes and achievement prizes. The website provides group function which enables a group to have a common goal to achieve. In the “Declaration of household electricity saving”, the contents mentioned above are incorporated so that each household can have fun conducting electricity saving on a continuous basis.
As electricity saving measures for this summer, we asked business consumers (with contracts of 500kw of less electricity) to voluntarily formulate electricity saving plans. We announced the electricity saving plans, which are formulated and registered by enterprises, and announce actions taken by each enterprise, on the site for business in “”
The enterprises, who formulate, register and publish their electricity saving plans, can download the “electricity saving declaration sticker” and “electricity saving declaration poster” from the site and can post the sticker/poster in their stores,etc. In this way, “” provides various contents to raise the consciousness of people about electricity saving activities.
In addition, we encouraged the development and marketing of applications which contribute to electricity saving based on the electricity-related data provided from electric utility operators. Providing API about the supply- demand balance data provided by TEPCO, “Smart phone application award 2011 for electricity saving” was implemented with the aim of supporting software developers, who are interested in creating ever-more popular application contents related to electricity saving, widely promoting electricity saving applications to public smart phone and tablet users and raising consciousness on electricity saving. By visualizing the electricity saving actions of the people in real time, we aimed at promoting continuous electricity saving activities.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
October 2009
We launched “idea box” experiment website to encourage the interactive communication with people.
October 2009- July 2010
We implemented several projects in idea box.
July 2010
We launched “Open Government Lab”
September 2010
The Cabinet Secretariat implement “idea box” with the consultation of METI Open Government Team
March 2011
METI and the Ministry of Education jointly implemented “idea box”
July 2011
METI launched the electricity saving website “” to raise the consciousness of the people about the electricity saving activities.
December 2011
METI renewed “” aiming at electricity saving for this winter.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The name, “Lab” made it smoother to persuade relevant people to support establishing the system, though the public tends to claim governmental systems to be perfect.
The electricity saving web-site experienced no technical and operational trouble. In spite of the limited time to get ready, METI could build the system for a short term owing to the experience of “Open Government Lab”.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Human resources for implementing Open Government Lab were five staff members from METI e-government team. Based on the project plan, we contract out the operation of the website to vendors. The cost of building the lab was about 98,000,000 Japanese yen. The lab centralized information about governmental activities to encourage open government including accumulated know-how and contact information. By doing so, it contributes to increase availability and access to information about governmental activities to promote open government.
The lab contributes to advance open government in public agencies by sharing best practices and expertise, providing technical consultation and suggestions in institution-building. This mechanism enables the agencies to launch new interactive projects rapidly. For example, it took about two months to launch foregoing electricity saving website “”.

The electricity saving website”” was implemented three staff members from The Cabinet Secretariat and six staff members from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the METI in addition to five staff members from METI mentioned above. Actually, many people are involved in a campaign to save electricity as a whole including newspaper, television, and relative events as well as the Internet.
The fundamental benefit of the web site is the reduction of electricity by 15%. Although the supply-demand balance tightened due to this year’s hot weather, implementation of abrupt blackouts was successes in being avoided.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Open Government Lab is now in process to transfer to new platform using free cloud computing, thus we can step up to the next stage to focus on enhancing its contents as well as establishing the system in the future. Considering its lower cost due to the transformation to new platform, we consider the initiative is sustainable.
In addition to the website mentioned above, we opened “” in response to the revision of the electricity saving period based on specific numerical targets within the Kyusyu EPCO are, as determined under the “Electricity Supply-Demand Measures for this winter”. Adding new topic and contents every year, this initiative is sustainable. Considering energy conservation is one of the biggest social challenges in the world, it is highly important to continue this initiative.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The biggest impact of “Open Government Lab” is that it contributes to promote Open Government projects effectively by centralizing information about governmental activities to encourage open government. Accumulating knowledge and expertise on a regular basis, the lab contributes as a platform to build a network of personal connections. As such, in the case we have to launch a new project rapidly, it enables us to respond to such situation flexibly, from providing a platform, attracting experts in this field. In addition, we can make a decision making in the implementation of new services and tools with the accumulated expertise and experiences gained in this initiative.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Eri Harada
Title:   staff  
Telephone/ Fax:   +81-3-3501-2964/+81-3-3580-6403
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   1-3-1 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku
Postal Code:   1008901
City:   Chiyoda-ku
State/Province:   Tokyo
Country:   Japan

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