Official Development Assistance (ODA)
Japan-China Comprehensive Forum on Environmental Cooperation
The remarkable economic development achieved by China in recent years has led to a number of environmental problems, including air and water pollution. The principal cause of China's air pollution and acid rain is sulfur dioxide emissions, which have risen to an annual level of some 18 million tons (compared with Japan's 800 thousand tons). The pollution is especially acute in Lanzhou and Chongqing where the concentration of sulfur dioxide has reached a level two-and-a-half times higher than that found in Japan during its worst period of air pollution in 1967. In the entire country of China the average concentration level is four times higher than the current level of Japan. How to tackle environmental problems with such a huge population and vast territory is an unavoidable issue and cannot be ignored by neighboring countries.
Japan has in fact placed considerable emphasis on environmental considerations in formulating its aid policies towards China, recognizing this as a priority area. In June 1995, Japan dispatched a high-level environmental cooperation mission to China for the purpose of conducting dialogue to coordinate Japan's policies focusing on the environmental issue.
Japan's ODA cooperation with China includes Japan-China Friendship Environmental Conservation Center construction by grant aid, which is followed by the dispatch of experts under the project-type technical cooperation. Furthermore, in December 1994, as a result of repeated approaches from Japan, 15 out of the 40 projects to be funded in the first three years (FY 1996-FY 1998) of the fourth yen loan package to China were environment related projects.
In addition, Ministry of International Trade and Industry and Environment Agency have conducted researches in this area and implemented projects to transfer environment-related technology to China. Assistance by local governments has also been provided through sister-city relationships with China.
The city of Kitakyushu, one of Japan's four major industrial centers, for example, experienced severe environmental problems, particularly air pollution and deteriorating water quality in the 1960s. In response, a campaign involving the local government, businesses, universities and citizens was mounted to confront the problems. This experience became the basis for the environmental cooperation in 1979 between Kitakyushu and its sister city in China, Dalian. Contents of the cooperation comprised training courses for Chinese in environmental fields, dispatches of Japanese experts and the holding of environmental seminars, among other cooperative activities.
In order to further solidify this kind of cooperation among various different institutions and groups, government agencies from both Japan and China, along with local governments and private-sector organizations, the Japan-China Comprehensive Forum on Environmental Cooperation was held in Beijing. Rather than simply concentrating on ODA, the meeting featured discussions on a broad range of ways to achieve further environmental cooperation between Japan and China, including cooperation among local governments and private organizations as well. At the first session, it was agreed to hold the forum on an annual basis, and to make further efforts to strengthen cooperation in the field of environmental preservation.