Panasonic used to make televisions, refrigerators and computer monitors in this suburb of Tokyo. Now, six years after closing its factories in Fujisawa, the company is building homes on the site, which is sandwiched between Mount Fuji and the Pacific.

With several partners, Panasonic plans to erect 1,000 houses in Fujisawa, using them to showcase its clean-energy technologies. The first batch, sheathed in protective plastic cladding bearing the name of the company’s residential division, PanaHome, is nearing completion.

”After shutting the factories, we thought, What is the latest contribution that we can make to society?” said Hiroyuki Morita, the Fujisawa project leader. ”We reached the conclusion that doing something for the environment was very important.”

Like other troubled Japanese electronics giants, Panasonic is trying to get its own house in order. Consumer electronics like those that were once made at Fujisawa provided the foundation for Japan’s postwar economic miracle. But in recent years, South Korea and Silicon Valley have moved to the fore in technological innovation and marketing, while China has taken the lead in manufacturing… see more