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In Japan during the 20th century, developments of high voltage transmission and distribution apparatus advanced tremendously and circuit breakers were the center of these developments. And as a result, 1100 kV SF6 gas insulated switchgear (GIS) for ac transmission systems and also 500 kV dc GIS for dc transmission systems have become available. Vacuum circuit breakers (VCBs) have also been actively developed and a 168 kV two break VCB and 100 kA VCB are already available. This paper describes these developments and future trends in technology.