Chapter II.
Sectoral Analysis of the International Situation and Japan's Foreign Policy

Section 3.
Efforts toward the realization of a better global society

B. Global environmental issues

1. Efforts by the international community on global environmental issues

Global warming, depletion of the ozone layer and other global environmental issues have become marked in recent years, garnering recognition as critical issues that pose a potential threat to the survival of the human race, and as such, require the joint effort of the international community. Moreover, these problems are impossible for any one country alone to handle, and thus a joint approach by the international community is essential. At the same time, environmental issues and developmental issues are two sides of the same coin, in the sense that efforts to address environmental issues can sometimes act as a brake on economic development. This hampers concerted action among countries that have different levels of development and economic circumstances, and many environmental issues (for example, the establishment of new funding mechanisms and the respective obligations of developed and developing countries) create sharp divergences between developed and developing countries. Views on the content and extent of environment-related efforts also frequently differ even within developed countries. In resolving global environmental issues, it will therefore be indispensable to coordinate the different positions and persist with negotiations until agreement can be reached.

Endeavors by the international community in regard to global environment issues made substantial progress through the United Nations Conference on Environmental Development (UNCED, or the so-called Earth Summit), held in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. This conference adopted the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21, which stipulated a comprehensive list of actions, and based on these, reviews have been conducted in areas in accordance with multi-year programs of work since 1993 by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), established under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Specific efforts by the international community are being undertaken primarily through the formation and promotion of area-specific multilateral conventions. With regard to the global warming issue, the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3) was held in Kyoto in December 1997, adopting the Kyoto Protocol, which provides for greenhouse gas reduction and limitation obligations on developed countries and countries with economies in transition. Parties agreed afterward to work toward reaching decisions at the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP6), to be held in November 2000, on the details of the so-called Kyoto Mechanisms stipulated in this Protocol, namely international emissions trading, the clean development mechanism and joint implementation, as well as those of procedures and mechanisms related to compliance. Negotiations have been going on to that end. At the Fifth Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP5) held in November 1995, a schedule of work was reaffirmed for negotiations leading to COP6, with ministerial-level representatives from Japan and many other parties asserting that the Kyoto Protocol should enter into force by 2002 at the latest. In regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity, an Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties was held in February in Cartagena, Colombia to discuss a protocol on biosafety, providing for procedures for the safe transfer, handling and use of living organisms modified through biotechnology. As for protection of the ozone layer, the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was held at the end of November, along with the Eleventh Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Some revisions were made to the Montreal Protocol, such as the introduction of regulations on hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) production volume and trade, while a decision was also made on the scale of funding for a multilateral fund between 2000 and 2002. The Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention was held in December to discuss hazardous waste issues, adopting the Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal (the Basel Protocol on Liability and Compensation). With respect to hazardous organic chemicals, inter-governmental negotiations also continued toward formulation of a convention regulating persistent organic pollutants such as dioxin.

2. Japan's cooperation

Amid the unfolding of such international efforts, Japan has continued to place international contributions to global environmental issues as one of the priority issues of its foreign policy, undertaking the following types of cooperation.

The first area entails Japan's contributions to the formulation and implementation of conventions and other international commitments. In terms of climate change, Japan has worked toward the success of COP6 and the early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol by providing personnel and financial support for various related conferences, continuing to contribute to the forward momentum of negotiations. One such concrete example was Japan's co-hosting in Bali, Indonesia of a workshop on the Kyoto Mechanisms for the Southeast Asian developing countries. In the context of persistent organic pollutants, Japan has taken the opportunity through negotiations to actively supply information and technical know-how on agricultural and other chemicals gained through long regulatory experience based on domestic law. In terms of the safety of biotechnology, Japan is working to create a balanced system which will be acceptable to both importers and exporters by catering to the interests of both.

Secondly, Japan has been providing environment-related support for developing countries. The simultaneous pursuit of environmental conservation and development is stressed in Japan's ODA Charter, and cooperation in the environmental sector is a priority issue in Japanese ODA. The Medium-Term Policy on Official Development Assistance, formulated in August, provides for continued active engagement despite Japan's stringent fiscal circumstances. In terms of specific efforts, Japan is involved in a range of cooperation areas, including implementation of the Initiatives for Sustainable Development Toward the 21st Century (ISD), announced in June 1997, and the Kyoto Initiative (Assistance to Developing Countries for Combating Global Warming), announced at COP3 in December 1997. Japan extended 423.8 billion yen in environment-related ODA (commitment basis) in FY1998, 24.5% of the total ODA budget.

Thirdly, Japan emphasizes cooperative relations with environment-related international organizations. Japan plays a substantial role as a major donor to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and also subsidizes the expenses for projects by the UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre (Osaka and Shiga) which Japan invited. Japan also co-organized events commemorating World Environment Day in Japan in June together with the UNEP.

In addition to these efforts, Japan is addressing the acid deposition issue by pursuing efforts toward full operation of the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia in 2000 with the participation of major East Asian countries.

Back to Index