(Provisional Translation)

photo (Foreign Minister Koumura)

Address by Mr. Masahiko Koumura,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

61st Meeting of the Nippon Keidanren Board of Councillors
December 26, 2007 at Nippon Keidanren Kaikan, Tokyo


Today I would like to speak to you about the issue of climate change. By now it certainly goes without saying that this is a critical issue demanding efforts involving everyone in society. More specifically, this is clearly an issue regarding which we must once again receive strong support from you in industrial circles to make further progress. With that in mind, I would like to take a few minutes here to overview for you my thoughts on this topic.

Next year, Japan will be hosting two major conferences before the end of the summer, namely TICAD IV and the G8 summit. The other day I was fortunate enough to have the valuable opportunity to discuss the issue of public-private cooperation, with a view to TICAD IV, while enjoying a meal with representatives of the business community.

At both TICAD IV and the G8 summit, the issue of how to curb global warming will of course be on the agenda for discussion.

I feel that our work to shape our relations with major emitters and also with the countries of Africa and other developing nations constitutes opportunities for Japan to demonstrate the true value of its diplomatic efforts in furthering our national interests. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will of course be making its best efforts as these events unfold, but I would also like to ask you for your continued assistance.

As I am sure you know, a major conference on climate change was held this month in Bali, Indonesia.

Japan has been the target of criticism by some environmental NGOs and others. When Japan stated that we support a post-2012 framework that goes beyond the Kyoto Protocol, we were taken to task for it, with claims that Japan was negating the value of the Kyoto Protocol.

What we have been hoping to convey is that we should be creating a framework in which all countries participate, including major emitters such as the United States, China, and India. Japan has never stated anything that has even suggested we should simply "dump Kyoto."

Our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol are binding under international law, and therefore we must achieve them without fail. Japan's commitment under the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 2008 to 2012 compared to 1990 levels.

I think it would be fair to say that if we ultimately fulfilled this commitment despite our current state of increasing emissions, Japan's reputation would certainly move up a notch further. For this reason, there is an urgent need for us to implement creative public policy, and with regard to this point I ask for your understanding.

In any event, the negotiations for a framework for 2013 and beyond are now on track to finally get underway. That was the major result that emerged at Bali.

As a key theme for both TICAD IV and the G8 summit next year, Japan intends to push forward the creation of a framework that, as I mentioned earlier, would include such countries as the United States, China, and India, as well as the formulation of an effective mechanism that also takes developing countries into account.

After all this time, I think that it is unnecessary for us to dwell on the current state of global warming that we are now experiencing. In good timing for the convening of the Bali conference, the IPCC -- that is, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- released its fourth assessment report. If there had been any remote chance for a "suspended sentence" or probation for our climate-related offenses, this report dashed all such hopes.

For Japan as well, clearly the time has come in which we have to put forth concrete independent proposals. Japan has been calling prominently for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but mid-term targets to be met on our way to that goal must also be set.

I am sure that you have all had a great interest since years ago in a sectoral approach, in which targets are set not for individual countries, but rather with relevant countries working to improve energy efficiency in individual fields, such as energy and steel.

Japan would like to put together some proposals in this area as well. Also, with regard to other economic instruments, such as emissions trading, we are now at a point at which Japan needs to develop concrete ideas after giving consideration to international trends.

These are efforts to mitigate the progression of global warming, but apprehensions are now growing that the damage from extreme climate events, such as droughts, heat waves, and floods will increase dramatically, as also stated in the IPCC report that I mentioned just a moment ago.

When developing countries are directly hit by the negative impacts of global warming, the result is that development is delayed and that there could begin a very tragic vicious cycle.

Currently the government is considering a new financing mechanism geared towards developing countries. Developing countries must first of all have the ability of adaptation towards the risk of the negative impacts arising from global warming.

In addition, we must have developing countries make their best efforts to enter into a virtual cycle to the greatest extent possible, with development and the environment pursued simultaneously. Furthermore, it is necessary to mitigate the progress of global warming and promote the use of cleaner energies. The new financial mechanism would be a means to assist with these types of efforts by developing countries.

In line with the budget recently drawn up, Japan intends to create a solid proposal utilizing not only ODA but also a number of other tools it possesses. I feel that it is critical for us to make use of this to provide support for developing countries, particularly support for adaptation measures. I believe that this will also facilitate the creation of an effective future framework.

Allow me to touch on one final point today, and that is what role Japan can play -- and especially, what role Japanese companies can play -- in this framework for 2013 and beyond. It seems to me that what Japan can contribute to the world under such a regime are first, technology, and second, an appropriate mindset.

First of all, with regard to technology, in my opinion we should be making full use of this, especially the power of you in the private sector. I understand, for example, that power consumption in home electrical appliances has been dropping dramatically.

Hybrid automobiles are another example that virtually goes without mentioning. Here you have a case of substantial worldwide sales of an energy-conserving product resulting in both enhanced corporate profits and global warming mitigation.

The government, meanwhile, is making efforts within the international community to encourage countries either to voluntarily reduce or to eliminate customs duties on products that are effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and this should assist your efforts to some degree.

This is something that we hope to promote in parallel with our efforts aimed at the early conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations. Within the area of government procurement, we will be promoting this along with our efforts to advance what is called green procurement.

Right now in Iwanohara, Niigata, there are demonstration tests underway in which carbon dioxide is collected and stored under the ground in a process called "carbon capture and storage," or CCS.

Japan has particular strengths in capture technology, and I look forward to this area advancing rapidly alongside the United States and Europe.

With regard to fuel cell vehicles and other such technologies, I very much hope that a schedule for dissemination can come into being at an early time. If the price comes down sufficiently, I plan on buying one myself.

At the same time, I believe that Japan has a host of things that it can contribute to the world with regard to an appropriate mindset. Over the last few years, Japan has in fact already contributed a number of ideas. As one example, it was five years ago that the United Nations decided to make the ten-year period starting in 2005 the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. This DESD came into being as a result of a Japanese proposal.

In addition, I believe that we should identify ideas that we can count as the "Japanese model," such as that of trying to create a society with a better mindset through the implementation of the 3Rs of "reduce, reuse, and recycle." We should then actively disseminate those ideas to the world. Contributing to the enlightenment of the global society in this way is also a major task for Japan to take up, in my view.

In closing, let me extend my best wishes to you for the new year to come. Thank you for listening.

Related Information (Climate Change)
Related Information (Japanese Economy)

Back to Index