Energy costs in Japan are roughly three times greater than in the United States. Thus there is an economic incentive to conserve energy. The national government has made it clear that it is willing to fund projects aimed at reducing energy utilization.
The need to conserve energy in Japan is evident in the implementation of technologies that eliminate operations such as knock-out and gate removal and in research projects to develop novel heat treatment and surface treatments that conserve energy. There is a major program ($18 million in FY '97) sponsored by the government to develop more efficient melting methods. Offsetting some of the energy conservation efforts is the wide use of robots in Japanese casting operations where they would not be used in the United States, even though U.S. energy costs are lower.