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Top Runner Program

The Top Runner programme, developed and introduced in 1998 by the Japanese government, is an innovative approach to increase the energy efficiency in the appliance sector as it identifies the most efficient appliance of a product category and defines this product as the minimum performance standard, which has to be reached within a specified number of years. 23 product groups are covered by the programme estimated to account for 60% of household electricity consumption in Japan. Due to the Top Runner programme, Japan was able, by 2009, to improve the energy efficiency of the selected product groups by 19% (27.1 TWh) and all in the period from the base year to the target year, on the assumption that products met their target values.


  • Tholen, Lena (Lead author)
  • Adria, Oliver (Author)
  • Bethge, Jan Per (Author)
  • Adisorn, Thomas (Author)
  • Thomas, Stefan (Reviewer)

Official document

Official document code:

Top Runner programme – Developing the World’s best Energy-Efficient Appliances (Revised Edition/Mar. 2010)
Accessible online at:

(Japanese version)
(English version)

References and further reading

  • Berghammer, Hans (2010): Der Top Runner-Ansatz: Japans Weg zur Energieeffizienz im Haushalt. Hamburg
  • Bunse, Maike; Irrek, Wolfgang; Herrendorf, Martin; Machiba, Tomoo.; Kuhndt, Michael (2007): Top Runner Approach – www.bigee.net/s7/crhvyi
  • Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) (2012): Principles of the Top Runner Program. Asia-Pacific Economic www.bigee.net/s/da2txe
  • Kimura, Osamu (2010): Japanese Top Runner Approach for energy efficiency standards www.bigee.net/s/j63gmx
  • Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) (2010a): Top runner programme: Developing the world’s best energy-efficient appliances. www.bigee.net/s/fib6yw
  • Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) (2010b): Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 2010. www.bigee.net/s/xziha8
  • Nordqvist, Joakim (2006): Evaluation of Japan’s Top Runner Programme. Within the framework of the AID-EE project. www.bigee.net/s/i4xdzz
  • Siderius, Hans-Paul; Nakagami, Hidetoshi (2012): A MEPS is a MEPS is a MEPS: comparing Ecodesign and Top Runner schemes for setting product efficiency standards. In: Energy Efficiency, pp. 1-19. www.bigee.net/s/ycqfzc
  • Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (2005): The Top Runner Program in Japan – its effectiveness and implications for the EU, Report 5515 www.bigee.net/nq6d5g 
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) (2012): Case Study. Mandating the best energy-efficient appliances: Japan’s Top Runner programme. www.bigee.net/s/euet97


  • Location:

  • Type of policy:
    Top Runner Approach

  • Implementation period:
    1998 to present

  • Year of latest revision:

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