Many observers of Japanese politics see a lot more energy, initiative and creativity in SOME local governments than at the national level. This is true in the response to the tsunami disaster -- where the governor of Miyagi Prefecture comes in for regular praise, for example. It is also true in the energy area.
Softbank's solar PV strategy involves teaming with prefectures -- no doubt great partners in finding sites, moving through regulatory barriers, and making sure that the utilities cooperate on matters of interconnection. The Tokyo government is making a major push into gas-fired generation and various other efforts to reduce its reliance on TEPCO.
A May 24, 2012 story in Yomiuri English version highlights the city of Wakkanai in Hokkaido, which now has a 5 Megawatt solar plant, as well as 74 large wind turbines -- covering almost 90 percent of the city's demand. Of course, the story does not note that this plant has been in operation since 2006, so it is nothing new. There is a lot going on at the local government level in renewables right now around Japan, but we need to be careful about these "re-announcements". The newspapers have figured out that the public is very interested in this topic, and so they have regular stories, with or without news, and with or without real analysis.
The article also mentions the IHI/Kyocera plan for a 70 megawatt solar PV installation in Kagoshima -- southern Kyushu. And the need to add transmission capacity and improve the grid if more wind power capacity is to be installed in Hokkaido or NE Japan.