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Life Cycle Assessment in Japan:
An Inventory

Online Resources on LCA

Activities of the LCA-National Project in Japan

This website details the activities initiated by the LCA Society of Japan, which was set up with the support of the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Its main mandate covered the establishment of LCA tools for the whole of Japan; construction of a Japanese public database; establishment of LCA application rules; and establishment of education and popularization systems for both the public and industries. More information on the LCA Society of Japan can also be found at:

Life Cycle Analysis: Summary of an Executive Fortune 500 Survey and a Japanese Comparison

The mail survey was sent to 386 executives at 175 companies based on the 1994's Fortune 500 ranking - Hi-Tech sector, Intermediates sector, Chemical sector, Personal Care sector etc. Also see, for example, an EcoDS Case Study on Mercury Reduction in Fluorescent Light Bulbs at -

Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap: Activities in Europe and Japan

In both Europe and Japan, environmentally conscious manufacturing, equipment and materials disposition, recycling, and related topics have not only ascended corporate ladders, they have given rise to cooperation, and sometimes conflict, between government, trade organizations and agencies, and industry. See specifically, a short subsection on Japan and company actions in Japan.

Railway Materials Tending to be Increasingly Environment-Conscious In Japan

A document prepared by the Railway Technical Research Institute, it looks at the reduction of environmental impacts of railways, to make the railways more environmentally conscious. LCA was advocated as a tool to measure the environmental damage by railways.


The concept of ECOMATERIALS was born in discussions of material scientists and metallurgists on the future state of materials for structural use. Discussions on the role of materials for human's life and activities, on the possibility to realize human's dreams, and on the relation with the environment were conducted from various viewpoints. The concept of ECOMATERIALS was established as the direction toward comprehensive development of materials conscious to human and the environment.

Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE)

RITE's result of Investigation, Research And Development has a section on LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT (ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT) containing abstracts of three research projects.

LCA and Technology Assessment Group, National Institute for Resources and Environment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) has received much attention in Japan, which was established as the International Standard, ISO 14040, in 1997. NIRE started studies of LCA in 1993 to support the ISO activities. Since then, many activities related to LCA have been carried out. Especially the LCA software "NIRE-LCA, ver. 2" developed by NIRE has been distributed to more than 150 of companies and universities in Japan. (see Current Research Project '99 fiscal year)

RIO-DB Materials-LCA Data Base for Ecomaterials Design (M-LCA DB)

In this database system, consumption of energy and the amount of discharge of air pollution are considered in all of a material life, i.e., production, transfer, usage, abolition and recycling stages in addition to the ordinary data base of composite materials.

Life Cycle Inventory Analysis - Vertically-Integrated Housing Construction, Hokkaido, Japan (Online PowerPoint Slide show)

Architecture and Building Services for the Global Environment

Waseda University's Advanced Research Center has estabilshed "E Environmentology" to carry out research on the theme, Architecture and Building Services for the Global Environment from the standpoint of planning, design and execution in architecture and building services

International Association for Impact Assessment (Japan Chapter)

Abstract: IAIA-Japan has been doing work on LCA and related issues such as Impact assessment etc. However, no details are provided in the above website

JEM-LCA Software

JEM-LCA is a software ndevelopment by NEC Japan . It is an inventory tool aimed at the electronics sector with a limited database. The software system is based on an inventory and process tree principle.

NEC PCs First To Meet Environmental Life Cycle Assessment Requirements

The latest range of NX-series personal computers (PC) based on the next-generation PC 97 and partly on PC 98 specifications, are the first in the world to meet the strict environmentally-conscious Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) requirements of the ISO14040ii-series environmental management quality standard.

Konica Annual Report, 1998

The Annual Report outlines Konia's corporate achievements for 1998. Its section on "Focus on Japan" - mentions LCA achievements of Konica in Japan.

Toppan Printing Co. Ltd.

Toppan's Corporate profile outlines its environmental concerns, presenting its 'dual approach: eco-protection and eco-creativity' and used LCA as a method to understand its product's impact on the environment

Bibliographic References

Matthias Finkbeiner, Konrad Saur, Peter Eyerer, Yasunari Matsuno, Atsushi Inaba, "Analysis of the Potential for a Comprehensive Approach Towards LCA and EMS in Japan" The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (forthcoming)

Abstract: Sustainable development can only be achieved if industry adopts both product related and organisation related environmental management tools, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Management Systems (EMS). In Japan, EMS (ISO 14001) is more widely applied than LCA (ISO 14040). Therefore, one means by which Japanese industries could be motivated to adopt and use LCA is to relate LCA-activities to the policies and instruments of ISO 14001. The potential of such a comprehensive approach was analysed by a survey of 270 Japanese enterprises (response rate 45%). The results indicate that 19% of the responding representatives had responsibilities for both LCA and EMS, while the remaining only work in one of both fields. A statement in the company's/ plant's Environmental Policy of ISO 14001, stating that LCA is to be used as part of the EMS, was found in 42% of all companies. A surprising number (39%) either already use, or plan to use, LCA and EMS as combinated/integrated tools. A strong argument for the establishment of a comprehensive approach can be seen in the perception of the usefulness of LCA, which was rated significantly higher in companies that acknowledged the complementary potential of LCA and EMS.

Keywords: EMS; Environmental Management; ISO 14001; ISO 14040; Japan; LCA; Life Cycle Assessment  

Maruyama, K., "Civil Engineering Circles Studying the Global Environment"
(in Japanese "Dobokukai no chikyu kankyo kenkyu") Doboku Gakkai-Shi (Journal of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers) Vol. 79:5. 15 Apr 1994 p. 112-114

Abstract: This paper considers global environmental problems from a new viewpoint of the civil engineering circles. Sharply increasing energy consumption has caused SOx and NOx emission to increase rapidly in the entire world. Annual per capita CO2 emission amount in the world is about 1 t-C, the largeness in quantity being a large issue. A proposal is made on converting energy consumption structure from transitory consumption type to recirculating consumption type in urban areas that consume large amount of energy as it requires addition of energy and resource minimum view point. A new assignment to the civil engineering circles is a search for a construction method with least consumption of energies and resources and a method to minimize CO2 emission in a life cycle from construction to management and abolition. New research assignments would include effective utilization of renewable natural energies such as wind power, hydraulic power, and terrestrial heat, as well as ocean storage of CO2 recovered from power plants. Improvements of infrastructures in developing countries and international cooperation for environmental preservation are the areas that the civil engineering circles can offer their contribution.


Inaba, A.; Kondo, Y.; Kobayashi, M. "Methodology of Emissions Inventory Preparation and Environmental Impact Evaluation" (in Japanese "Haishutsu butsuryo no teiryoka to sono kankyo eikyo hyoka shuho no kenkyu doko") Nippon Enerugi Gakkaishi (Journal of the Japan Institute of Energy) Vol. 74:822. 20 Oct 1995 p 874-881

Abstract: Reviewed in this paper are the methodologies used for emissions inventory preparation and the environmental impact evaluation of emissions from industrial production and/or technologies utilization. The methodologies utilized for emissions inventories can be categorized into two approaches: the bottom-up approach, and the analytical approach using input-output tables. Currently, the environmental impacts are evaluated by the classification, such as 'Greenhouse effect' and 'Ozone layer depletion', and aggregation method, whose value are calculated by the product of the emissions volume/mass and the weighting factors. The weighting factors are presently estimated based on scientific knowledge as far as possible. In order to evaluate environmental impacts on the different classifications in the same unit, the method of the calculation of environmental costs has been the focus of attention recently. Environmental costs are the parts of the externality, which is not reflected on the present market prices, of the industrial products and/or technologies. In the future, we should consider not only environmental impacts caused by the emissions but also other externality such as 'Resource depletion' and 'Land use'.


Nagataki, S., "Service Life of Structures and Durability of Materials" (in Japanese, "Kozobutsu no sabisu raifu to zairyo no taikyusei") Semento Konkurito (Cement and Concrete Vol. 568. 10 Jun 1994 p 35-47

Abstract: This paper is one of the lectures addressed at the 6th International Conference on Durability of Building Materials and Components (6 DBMC) held in the Omiya Sonic City in the City of Omiya, the Saitama Prefecture on the 25th-28th, October, 1993. A service Life of the structures is substantially affected by a serviceability requested on its structure. For example, in the old time when an elevator capacity was small, many buildings with the medium and low stories being long from side to side were constructed. However, because the multistoried building becomes possible to be constructed when an elevator performance is raised, as well as, because its serviceability becomes insufficient in a functional aspect, from a viewpoint of an effective utilization of the property and an usage convenience of the building, although a strength and beauty of the building are satisfactory, the building is built and replaced to the multistoried building none the less for no exhaustion of a life cycle of the building. Accordingly a service life of the structures is not determined only through a fall of the structural strength caused by a deterioration of the structural materials. Therefore in the structural design from now on it is required that the total management considering a quality guarantee, maintenance and so forth of the materials and/or members should be discussed.


Inaba, A., "Database and Software for Life Cycle Assessment" (in Japanese, "LCA yo deta to sofutowea") Enerugi Shigen Vol. 17:6. 5 Nov 1996 p. 25-31

Abstract: As a method to evaluate the environmental influences of industrial products, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has attracted attention. The LCA is a method that loads of products and services to the environment were analyzed and the environmental influence was evaluated, and movement to such a manufacture with a low load was investigated by understanding the input and output content of energy and resources (LCI) in each step during a period from the step of product and service design and material supply to abolition. In this paper, the summary of data using the existing case stage was introduced. Next, what kind of data is necessary for the LCI data was investigated, and the existing form of database was further described. Moreover, the current situation of reports and software including the LCI data in Europe and America was mentioned. In Japan, there was a situation which each researcher was using various methods and data to calculate the original unit of exhaustion.


Shigeyuki MIYAMOTO* and Masafumi TEKAWA "Development of Life Cycle Assessment Software and Application to Personal Computer Assessment" NEC Research & Development Special Issue on Environmental Technology, Vol.39, No.2 April 1998

Abstract: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) software has been developed and a case study for Personal Computers (PCs) has been accomplished. In the software, product life cycle flow is represented by a coupled-tree structure. A flow window provides two kinds of views, a sheet view and a tree view, for ease in constructing a product life cycle in the software. Using this software, a case study has been achieved for desktop PCs and notebook PCs. Concerning four impact assessment categories, the greenhouse effect, acidification, eutrophication, and resource consumption, the environmental impact was large in the use and production stages.

Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Environment impact, Software, Personal Computer (PC), Environmental conscious product

David Hunkeler, Ryoichi Yamamoto, Itaru Yasui, "Life Cycle Assessment: From Adam Smith to Aristotle " International Journal of LCA Vol. 4 No.2) 118-120 (1999)
(Available online at

Abstract: The article provides an overview of the Third International Conference on Ecobalances, which was held in Tsukuba, Japan, November 25-27, 1998. Conference focused on the application of life cycle assessment, as well as its associated fields of life cycle management, ecodesign and life cycle thinking, towards both practical industrial cases as well as national and supranational policy related issues.

Takafumi NAGATOMO, Toru MIYAUCHI and Hiroshi TSUCHIYA, "Preliminary Investigation for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Shinkansen Vehicles" Paper presented at the World Congress on Railway Research at Florence, Italy (16-19 November 1997)
(Available online at

Abstract: Global environmental problems have attracted a great deal of public attention. Reduction of environmetal impact has been require all over the world. The problem in Japan has come to be tackled gradually in railways. It includes not only train-induced noise and ground vibration known in general, but also evaluating synthetically the environmental impact on railway systems throughout the life cycle of the train. Life cycle assessment(LCA) has been a focus of attention recently. It is a technique for evaluating the environmental impacts associated with a product throughout its life cycle. Though the methodology of LCA is still under development, it is very important to appreciate the concept of LCA. Thus, the preliminary investigation for LCA of Shinkansen vehicle was carried out. And then, trial applications of LCA of Shinkansen vehicle for energy consumption and CO2 emission were performed on the basis of data acquired in this investigation. As the result, life cycle energy consumption and CO2 emission in running stage were found the highest of all stages. This study will contribute to future study on LCA for railway vehicles.

Key Words: Shinkansen vehicle / LCA

Masako Yamamoto and Yoshihito Mituhara "Life-Cycle Inventory of an Automotive Fuel Tank", LCA News, Volume 17, Number 3, May 1997

Abstract: As a means of effectively incorporating the concept of "life cycle" for reducing the environmental impact of the automobile, we carried out an LCI study on a part-by-part basis. The targets of our study are the fuel tanks that are made of different materials and manufacturing processes. One is made of steel and the other is made of plastic but both perform identical functions. Our investigation encompasses the period from the manufacturing of the materials to the disposal of the tanks. The evaluation items consist of the amount of energy consumed and the emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx, and PM that are released into the atmosphere. The results show that the plastic tank poses a greater burden in terms of the amount of energy consumed and the CO2 and NOx emitted. This study confirmed the areas of improvement in the tank life cycle, which could not be effectively assessed through the LCI of the entire automobile. Lastly, we considered the issues that we should address in order to render the LCA into practical applications. (Note: LCA News is prepared by the SETAC Foundation for Environmental Education's programme on Life-Cycle Assessment. It can be viewed online at -

Tsuneyuki Ueki, "Partnership for Building Eco-Cities -Role of Private Sector"

Abstract: Mr. Ueki is General Manger of Ebara Corporation's Corporate Planning Office. In this paper, he links the concepts of eco-cities, zero emissions and LCA in Japan. Read the paper online at -

Mr. Takashi Goto, "Trends and Prospects: The Environment Market in Japan" Presentation made at JETRO Vancouver on Tuesday, May 25, 1999.

Abstract: Mr. Goto is Manager, Engineering Department, Environmental Systems Division of Kawasaki Steel Corporation. His areas of expertise include recycling, waste disposal (especially incineration) and energy. The presentation covered Outlook of the environmental market in Japan (scale, deregulation, government policy, market development); Review and analysis of the environment markets in Japan (environment pollution, waste disposal, energy conservation/new energy, measurement and analysis instruments) and Deregulation and environment related regulations. He also spoke of LCA within this overall structure. (View the paper online at:


Other papers no abstracts:

D. Hunkeler, E. Huang, "LCA in Japan: An Overview of Current Practices and Trends Relative to the USA", Environmental Quality Management, Autumn 1996, 86 (1996).

Masahiko Hirao "Dynamic LCA for Technology Assessment" Paper presented at the AIST Symposium on Development of New Methodologies for LCA - Social LCA and Dynamic LCA - March 3, 1999 in Tsukuba, Japan (Author's email:

S. Kato, N. Maruyama, Y. Nikai, H. Takai, Y. Kojima and A. Widiyanto, "LCA Estimation Scheme Aiming at Compromising Compatibility between Environmental Load and Economical Cost for Co-generation Eco-Operation". Paper presented at ECOS'99 - International Conference on Efficiency, Costs, Optimization, Simulation and Environmental Aspects of Energy Systems at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan from June 8 - 10, 1999 (Authors are from Mie University contact ECOS'99 for paper:

Suzuki, M. and Oka, T. "Estimation of life cycle energy consumption and CO2 emission of office buildings in Japan." Energy and Buildings, Volume 28, Number 1, 1998.



Other info sources

  • EcoDesign'99 : 1st International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing was held from February 1 to 3, 1999 in Tokyo. Category A: Design and Life Cycle Management covered various topics on Environmentally Conscious Design (ECD) from basic theories to industrial case studies including ECD Methods and Tools, Decision Support Systems for Product Life Cycle, Environmental Information Sharing, ECD Assessment (Methods and Tools), Industrial Design for Environmentally Conscious Products, Design for X, Life Cycle Management, and Case Studies of ECD. It consisted of 21 sessions including 80 oral presentations, 4 keynote presentations made by leading researchers in this domain. More info on ED '99 and upcoming follow-up activities at -

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