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Policy Update 039

Japan's Environmental Policy

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TANI Midori

TANI Midori

Senior Analyst for Consumer Policy
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI)
Consulting Fellow in Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)

see other activities by this Fellow

Abstract

Having experienced severe problems associated with pollution during the 1950s and 1960s, Japan has been strengthening its environmental policy. Regulations over water and air quality were enforced under the Water Pollution Control Law and the Air Pollution Control Law, resulting in a reduction of pollutants during the 1970s and 1980s.

If these actions had been taken earlier, the costs incurred by the pollution could have been reduced substantially. Developing countries can avoid such high costs attributed to policy delays by taking early action to improve their environments.

Global warming became a very important environmental problem in the 1990s. Japan has been active both in domestic measures to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases, such as disseminating technologies on renewable energy and energy conservation, and in efforts to formulate international agreements on climate change, such as hosting a conference to agree upon the Kyoto Protocol.

Introduction

Environmental policy encompasses a wide variety of areas. For example, management of natural parks, biodiversity, control of chemicals, soil contamination, environmental assessments, waste management, and recycling all fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment in Japan. However, the scope of this paper is limited to water quality, air quality, and global warming, with the objective of providing a very basic introduction to environmental policy in Japan that can be helpful to other countries.

This is to give a simple picture of environmental policy to readers who have an interest in Japanese administration in general, and not to offer advice on specific regulations. This paper uses simple and clear expressions, which are not necessarily legally correct terms, and also provides links to websites for more details. Those who wish to obtain information on each regulation for more specific purposes, such as for concluding contracts, should read the original regulations and guidelines, and not depend on this paper.

Background

The Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control was legislated in 1967 and the Environment Agency was established in 1971. In 2001, the Ministry of the Environment was established with stronger mandates.*1

Concrete Policy Measures

1. Protecting Environmental Quality of Water

1-1 History of water pollution control

Water pollution has a long history in Japan. In the 19th century, local residents in the downstream part of the Watarase River suffered from pollution caused by a copper mine upstream. A booklet named "Water Environmental Management in Japan" includes details of such history,*2 together with overall policies and data related to the water environment in Japan. The outbreak of Minamata Disease, which occurred as a result of methylmercury poisoning, was first reported in 1956. People were affected after eating large quantities of fish that had ingested and accumulated methylmercury, after the toxin was discharged into Minamata Bay by chemical plants.*3

During the 1960s, problems of environmental pollution in water increased. For example, cadmium contamination in the Jinzu River caused a disease that makes bones brittle. Also, an increase in organic matter decreased oxygen levels in many rivers, bays and lakes, creating a number of adverse effects for local people including pungent odors, diminished fish populations, and poisonous plankton and bacteria, which grew in such water.

Thus, the Water Pollution Control Law was legislated in 1970,*4 and the Interim Law for Conservation of the Environment of the Seto Inland Sea was legislated in 1973. The Seto Inland Sea is the body of water, located between the main island of Honshu and the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu, which needs special measures to limit the total amount of pollutants. The interim law became permanent in 1978. In order to reduce pollution in lakes such as Lake Biwa, which provides water for many people including those living in Kyoto and Osaka, the Law Concerning Special Measures for the Preservation of Lake Water Quality was legislated in 1984.

1-2 Regulation of Effluents

The central government and local governments cooperate closely to protect water quality in accordance with the three laws (the Water Pollution Control Law, the Law Concerning Special Measures for Conservation of the Environment of the Seto Inland Sea, and the Law Concerning Special Measures for Conservation of Lake Water Quality).

The laws have many provisions, among which are regulations covering the level of pollutants in effluents. Those who manage factories and other commercial facilities which discharge effluents are obliged to measure the pollution level of the effluents and keep records of the measurements in accordance with the order issued by the Ministry of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment, prefectural governors and mayors of designated cities request reports from factories and other commercial facilities on their effluents, and conduct on-site inspections when necessary. If it is found that any effluent violates the standards, a punishment may be enforced. Also, an order may be issued to modify the construction of the facility or the method of wastewater treatment.

Under the Water Pollution Control Law, the Ministry of the Environment sets standards for effluents from factories and other commercial facilities that discharge wastewater into public waters such as seas, rivers, and lakes.*5

There are two categories of the effluent standards. One category is related to the protection of human health and includes standards on pollutants such as mercury and cadmium, which can cause diseases. Another is related to the protection of the living environment and includes standards such as Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), which are indicators of water quality for organic contamination. High levels of organic contamination can cause a shortage of oxygen in the water. This category also includes nitrogen and phosphorus, which act as fertilizers to increase the growth of undesirable plankton and algae.

Stricter standards are applied to some areas. For example, total volumes of some pollutants are regulated, in addition to the densities, in Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay and the Seto Inland Sea. Also, local governments in some areas set effluent standards stricter than the uniform national standards.

The Ministry of the Environment surveys the enforcement of all three laws. In FY 2008, the number of facilities subject to effluent control totaled around 277,000, including approximately 68,000 hotels and inns. Of these facilities, about 44,000 were subject to on-site inspections resulting in roughly 7,600 cases of administrative guidance. 23 administrative orders were issued to improve the situation, one order to suspend operations was issued, and 13 arrests were made for infringements of effluent standards.*6

1-3 Policy Measures for Household Wastewater

Effluents from household activities such as cooking, laundry, and bathing have been a major cause of pollution of public waters. In order to treat waste water from households, the government has been promoting the construction of sewerage systems, which brought the proportion of the population who have access to sewerage to 71.7% in FY 2007. For areas without sewerage systems, mostly in mountainous areas or areas with low population densities, rural community wastewater treatment facilities and household wastewater treatment facilities, called "johkaso", have been developed with the aid of subsidies, bringing the proportion of the population with access to wastewater treatment facilities to 83.7% in FY2007.*7

In order to reduce pollution from households, efforts have been made to disseminate information on water quality so as to raise public awareness. The Ministry of the Environment and local governments have created various publications and homepages and called for a more environmentally sound use of water. Along with the heightened public awareness, producers of detergents have changed their products to those which are less harmful to the environment. For example, detergents without phosphorus were developed in the late 1970s, and most of the detergents in Japan are without phosphorus today.

1-4 Monitoring and Publicizing Water Quality

Local governments monitor the quality of water in seas, rivers, lakes, and groundwater, according to the common items and methods set by the Ministry of the Environment, and compare them with environmental quality standards. The Ministry of the Environment collects and publicizes the results and other information related to water quality so as to raise public awareness and encourage further action to protect the environment.

As for the items related to protection of human health, the compliance rate of environmental quality standards was 99.0% in FY 2008.*8 Studies are made on each point where any substance exceeds the standard, and measures are taken to meet the standard. Most of the excesses in human health items had been taken care of during the 20th century, and a substantial proportion of the excesses still remaining were found to be from natural causes, such as high arsenic contents in nearby rocks or soil. Measures are taken for other excess sites where causes of the excess were found. Monitoring continues for sites in which the cause of the excess has not been determined.*9

As for the items related to the living environment, achievement rates have been increasing but are lower than those for the items related to protection of human health. In FY 2008, in terms of the standards on indicators of water quality for organic contamination, the overall compliance rate was 87.4%, reaching a record- high, but the achievement rate for lakes and reservoirs remained as low as 53.0%. The compliance rate for total nitrogen and total phosphorus in lakes and reservoirs was also low, at 50.0%.*10

In order to encourage efforts to make further improvements, all rivers and lakes are ranked in their quality of water, and the top five cleanest and worst five dirtiest rivers and lakes, in terms of water quality for organic contamination, are determined. These rankings are publicized so as to raise awareness on the water environment. In addition, the top five rivers and lakes which had the largest improvements in water quality are also publicized, so as to recognize the efforts that have been made. Sightseeing businesses on rivers and lakes are especially interested in raising the ranking for their sites. *11

Swimming beaches pose a good opportunity for raising awareness in water quality among the public and local business community. In the beginning of summer each year, water quality of swimming beaches are graded and publicized. If any beach is found to be lower than the lowest passing grade, swimming is not allowed. In 2009, 850 beaches were ranked and 542 were found to have a water quality of grade AA, the highest; 5 were found to have a water quality of grade C, the lowest passing grade; and no beach was found to be below grade C.*12 Also, in 2006, the Ministry of the Environment selected the 100 best beaches and publicized information related to their environment, access, etc., through its homepage.*13 Although the homepage is in Japanese, pictures and local maps can be seen by clicking on the beaches in the map.

As for the groundwater, regular measurements are made by prefectures and the results and causes of pollution are publicized by the Ministry of the Environment. In FY2008, groundwater from 4,290 wells was measured, among which 295 wells (6.9% of the total) had substances exceeding the environmental quality standards. Among the 6.9%, the largest proportion, 4.4%, had nitrate nitrogen/nitrite nitrogen in excess of the standard.*14 Such wells are often found in areas where a large amount of fertilizer is used or manure from livestock is not treated properly. Household wastewater also causes such pollution. Since babies who are drinking water with excessive nitrate nitrogen/nitrite nitrogen can suffer from anemia, environmentally sound management is called for in agriculture and stockbreeding, so as to emit less nitrogen into the groundwater.

1-5 Policies on non-point sources, river management and drinking water

The measures mentioned above were effective in making improvements in most rivers and seas, but improvements in the quality of water in some lakes were found to be unsatisfactory, as shown in Figure 1. Thus, the Lake Water Study Committee in the Ministry of the Environment agreed that additional actions were needed in 2004.*15 In 2005, the Law Concerning Special Measures for the Preservation of Lake Water Quality was amended, to include measures to reduce pollution from non-point sources such as agriculture. For example, more appropriate use of fertilizers is encouraged in certain areas designated under the law to reduce inflow of nitrogen and phosphorus to a lake. The amended law also includes measures to preserve lake shores' natural vegetation, which is effective for improving the quality of water.

Figure 1 : Trends toward Achieving EQSs (Biochemical Oxygen Demand or Chemical Oxygen Demand)*16
Figure 1. Trends toward Achieving EQSs (Biochemical Oxygen Demand or Chemical Oxygen Demand)

The River Bureau in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism also works for improving the environment in rivers and lakes. The 1997 amended River Law added improvement and conservation of the environment to the list of the fundamental tasks of river administration.*17 In "environment-focused river management" by the River Bureau, several projects have been carried out to improve water quality and protect the natural environment. For example, water in some dam lakes is purified by aeration (mixing air into water).*18

Efforts by public organizations to protect the quality of drinking water are important, too. To this end, the Drinking Water Sources Law and the Law Concerning Special Measures for the Protection of Water Quality*19 were established in 1994. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare publicizes activities by municipalities to protect drinking water sources.*20

2. Protecting Environmental Quality of Atmosphere

2-1 History of Air Pollution and Environmental Quality Standards of Air

Around 1960, the number of asthmatic patients increased in certain areas close to large petrochemical factories. The air in the neighborhood was found to be polluted by SOx.*21

In order to cope with such problems of air pollution, the Air Pollution Control Law was legislated in 1968.*22 The law has provisions to protect air quality by measures such as to control emissions of soot and smoke and particulate matters from factories and to set maximum permissible limits for automobile exhaust.

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for setting environmental quality standards of atmosphere. Table 1 shows the actual level of standards.

Table 1 : Environmental Quality Standards of Atmosphere*23
Substance Environmental conditions
SO2 (Sulfur dioxide) The daily average for hourly values shall not exceed 0.04 ppm, and hourly values shall not exceed 0.1 ppm
CO (Carbon monoxide) The daily average for hourly values shall not exceed 10 ppm, and average of hourly values for any consecutive eight hour period shall not exceed 20ppm
SPM (Suspended particulate matter) The daily average for hourly values shall not exceed 0.10 mg/m3, and hourly values shall not exceed 0.20 mg/m3
NO2 (Nitrogen dioxide) The daily average for hourly values shall be within the 0.04-0.06 ppm zone or below that zone
Ox (Photochemical oxidants) Hourly values shall not exceed 0.06 ppm

Substance Environmental conditions
Benzene Annual average shall not exceed 0.003 mg/m3
Trichloroethylene Annual average shall not exceed 0.2 mg/m3
Tetrachloroethylene Annual average shall not exceed 0.2 mg/m3
Dichloromethane Annual average shall not exceed 0.15 mg/m3

Substance Environmental conditions
Dioxins
(PCDDs, PCDFs and coplanar PCBs) 
Annual average shall not exceed 0.6pg-TEQ/m3

2-2 Regulating Emissions from Sources

The Air Pollution Control Law also has provisions for enforcing regulations. Pollutants are generated mainly from facilities such as factories and mobile sources such as motor vehicles.

As for factories, national emission standards are set by the Minister of the Environment, but governors of prefectures can set more stringent standards in areas under their jurisdiction. Regulation duties are conducted by prefectures and large cities.

Any person who plans to establish a soot and smoke emitting facility must provide information such as the kind of proposed facility to the governor of their prefecture. If the governor finds that the estimated volume and concentration of the soot and smoke fails to meet the emission standard, he or she may order the notifying person to modify the plan.

Those who manage facilities that emit soot and smoke must measure and keep record of the volume and concentration of the soot and smoke generated according to the technical standards set by the Ministry of the Environment. If the governor of the prefecture finds that the emission is likely to continuously exceed the standards, he or she may order the person to improve the method of operation.

The Ministry of the Environment surveys the status of enforcement. For example, in FY 2008, the number of notifications from soot and smoke emitting facilities were 220,008, among which 64.4% were boilers, 15.1% were diesel engines, and 4.0% were gas- turbines. Onsite inspections were conducted at 25,506 facilities, and 9 administrative measures including issuing improvement orders were taken.*24

Other laws regulating special facilities are also used for protecting air quality. For example, the Electricity Business Act*25 has provisions for regulating power plants, and is used to ensure that the emissions from fossil fuel combustion in power plants do not exceed certain limits.

As for mitigating roadside air pollution from mobile sources, the Air Pollution Control Law has provisions including utilization of other laws to protect air quality. Major actions under the law include the following:

  • The Minister of the Environment establishes maximum permissible limits on the amount of exhaust gases from motor vehicles. The Minister of the Environment also establishes maximum permissible limits on the amount of exhaust gases from non-road special motor vehicles such as construction machinery.
  • The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism establishes necessary matters on the control of emissions of motor vehicles exhaust under the Road Transportation Vehicles Law, taking care to secure the maximum permissible limits set by the Minister of the Environment.
  • The Minister of the Environment sets maximum permissible limits on the quality of automobile fuel where necessary to prevent air pollution caused by automobile exhaust gases. For example, regulation on the sulfur content in gasoil has been strengthened as shown in table 2.
Table 2 : Regulation over sulfur contents in gasoil*26
Year 1976 1992 1997 2004 2007
Sulfer contents(ppm) 5,000 2,000 500 50 10
  • The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry establishes necessary matters concerning the regulation of automobile fuel by an order under the Act on the Quality Control of Gasoline and Other Fuels, taking care to secure the maximum permissible limits set by the Minister of the Environment.

In order to further mitigate emissions from motor vehicles, The Law Concerning Special Measures for Total Emission Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides and Particulate Matters from Automobiles in Specified Areas was legislated in 2001, by amending The Law Concerning Special Measures for Total Emission Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides from Automobiles in Specified Areas ("Particulate Matters" was added to the title of the law). Under the fundamental plans to reduce the total volume of nitrogen oxides and particulate matters emitted from automobiles, special restrictions are set in areas of large concentrations of motor vehicles such as the Tokyo Metropolitan area. Only automobiles that emit Nitrogen Oxides and particulate matters below the level of certain standards, which are more stringent than the national standards, are allowed in these areas.

Regulations are revised or added when necessary. For example, new regulations over volatile organic compounds (VOCs) started in 2006.*27

2-3 Monitoring and Publicizing Air Quality

Quality of the atmosphere is measured at monitoring stations mostly by local authorities. There are two types of stations; roadside air pollution monitoring stations (RAPMSs) and ambient air pollutions monitoring stations (APMSs). There were 438 RAPMSs and 1,549 APMSs in the end of March 2009.*28

Data on air quality are publicized by the Ministry of the Environment through the homepage of the Atmospheric Environmental Regional Observation System.*29 The system has a nickname called "Soramame-kun," and efforts have been made to make it interesting to the public. Although the homepage is in Japanese, data can be seen relatively easily by non-Japanese speakers by clicking on any part of the map.

Through the measures mentioned above, concentrations of pollutants in the atmosphere have decreased over the years, in spite of economic growth and an increase in the number of automobiles. The average annual concentration of SO2 in the atmosphere dropped sharply during the 1970s and early 1980s, as shown in figure 2. This was the period when factories in Japan sharply increased the installation of flue gas desulfurization facilities. In FY 1970, the total number of flue gas desulfurization facilities in Japan was 102, which increased to 1,329 in FY 1980, and 1,914 in FY 1990.*30 In addition to environmental regulations, special loans were provided by governmental financial institutions for environmental investments, to encourage factories to install facilities such as those for desulfurization, especially during the 1970s and 80s when such financial needs for environmental investments were high.

Figure 2 : Changes in the Annual Averages of Sulfur Dioxide Concentration (FY1970-2001)*31
Figure 2. Changes in the Annual Averages of Sulfur Dioxide Concentration (FY1970-2001)

After such measures were taken in 2002, Japan had the lowest air emission intensities in SOx and NOx, apart from Switzerland, as shown in table 3.

Table 3 : International comparison in Air Emission Intensities (2002)*32
U.S. UK France Germany Japan Switzerland
SOx Per GDP 1.4 0.6 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.1
Per capita 48 17 9 7 7 3
NOx Per GDP 1.9 1.0 0.9 0.7 0.6 0.4
Per capita 65 26 23 17 16 12

Since the enactment of the Law Concerning Special Measures for Total Emission Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides and Particulate Matters from Automobiles in Specified Areas in 2001, pollutants have been further reduced.*33 Table 4 shows the decrease in NO2 between 2001 and 2008 in the specified areas.

Table 4 : Changes in annual average concentration of NO2 in the Specified Areas under the Law Concerning Special Measures for Total Emission Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides and Particulate Matter from Automobiles in Specified Areas (ppm)*34
year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
RAPMSs 0.035 0.034 0.034 0.032 0.032 0.032 0.029 0.028
APMSs 0.024 0.023 0.022 0.021 0.021 0.021 0.019 0.018
Table 5 : Changes in annual average concentration of SPMs (mg/m3)*35
year 1974 1980 1990 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008
RAPMSs 0.058 0.042 0.037 0.031 0.027 0.026 0.024 0.022
APMSs 0.162 0.053 0.050 0.040 0.031 0.030 0.027 0.026

3. Protecting the Earth from Global Warming

3.1 Policy Measures to Mitigate Greenhouse Gases

In 1997, Japan hosted the Third Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, at which the Kyoto Protocol*36 was agreed. The Kyoto Protocol sets numerical targets of emissions reduction for respective countries during 2008-2012 compared to 1990 levels. Japan has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6%.

In 1998, the Law Concerning the Promotion of the Measures to Cope with Global Warming was legislated*37. The law establishes responsibilities of the central government, local governments, businesses and citizens to cope with global warming. The law obligates the central government to stipulate a basic policy on measures to cope with global warming.

In order to raise awareness on global warming among the public, the Ministry of the Environment has been carrying out national campaigns and calling for action. For example, a campaign promoting a lifestyle to reduce CO2 emissions called "Team Minus 6%" started in 2005. It called for actions such as a reduction in the use of air-conditioning and the promotion of eco-driving. It also encouraged "COOL BIZ," which promotes the "business style" of being able to work in offices comfortably at 28 degrees Celsius.*38

The Annual Report on the Environment and the Sound Material-Cycle Society in Japan 2008 lists some examples of the low-carbon society. The report mentions an example of environmentally sustainable transport such as Traffic Demand Management. The report also emphasizes development and dissemination of low carbon technology such as increasing the thermal efficiency of power plants. Thermal efficiency of thermal power plants in Japan is above 40%, substantially higher than the levels in most developing countries which are around 30%.*39

The Annual report on the Environment and Sound Material-Cycle Society, Biodiversity in Japan 2009 also put a strong emphasis on combating climate change. It lists policies in the "Action Plan for Achieving a Low-carbon Society" which was decided by the Cabinet in July 2008. The plan includes the following among others;

  • Solar power generation: Regain the best position in the world, set targets of 10-fold by 2020, 40-fold by 2030
  • Next generation vehicles: Increase the sales volume of new vehicles by 50% in 2020, with a range of 500km by 2030
  • Energy efficient lamps: Replace incandescent light bulbs with bulb-shaped fluorescent lamps in principle by around 2012*40

3.2 Policies on Energy Efficiency and Non-fossil Energy

Since a large proportion of the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, a reduction in the use of fossil fuels by energy conservation is effective to mitigate global warming.

The Act on the Rational Use of Energy, which was created in 1979 during the second energy crisis, is used in the reduction of CO2 emissions from energy sources. The Act is used to implement the measures required for the rational use of energy with regard to factories, transportation, buildings, and machinery and equipment.*41

The following measures, among others, are included in the Act;

  • A business operator that consumes large amounts of energy must appoint an energy manager who has a nationally qualified license to monitor the work related to rational energy utilization and report the status of their energy utilization to the government. A license is awarded to a person who has passed the examination or who has been authorized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry upon completing a qualification course.
  • The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport establishes standards to which building owners should refer in making decisions for rationalizing energy use in their buildings. Construction clients and owners who intend to construct large buildings must submit energy-saving measures to the competent authorities before the start of construction.
  • Automobiles, air-conditioners, refrigerators, television sets, copying machines and other equipment specified in the Government Order must meet energy efficiency standards. The standards are set based on the product in the market having the highest energy efficiency of all the products of the same group. Such equipment must be marked to show their energy consumption efficiencies to assist consumers' choice.*42

As shown in figure 3, less energy is used per unit of GDP in Japan than in other major countries/regions. Energy conservation contributes not only in the reduction of greenhouse gases, but also in the protection of the economy and the people from higher energy prices.

Figure 3 : Primary Energy Supply per GDP (2006)*43
Figure 3.  Primary Energy Supply per GDP (2006)
Measured in tons of oil equivalent per USD 1000 of GDP at 2000 prices and exchange rates.

Non-fossil energy, which includes renewable energies and nuclear energy, contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions. The government is promoting production and use of renewable energies. In November 2009, the New Purchase System for Solar Power-Generated Electricity was launched. This system obliges electric utilities to purchase excess electricity generated through solar power generation facilities at specified prices. For example, such electricity from households is purchased at ¥48/kWh, and that from non-households at ¥24/kWh.*44

The government is also promoting safe use of nuclear energy. "Energy in Japan 2008"*45 and "FY2008 Annual Energy Report"*46 includes further data and policies related to energy.

3.3 Future Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Substantial efforts are needed in Japan to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. The Japanese Government will continue its efforts to combat climate change.

In September 2009, a new administration was established by Prime Minister Hatoyama, who has been making positive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Shortly after taking office, he presented a statement at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change. The statement included the following:

  • Based on the discussion in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), I believe that the developed countries need to take the lead in emissions reduction efforts. It is my view that Japan should positively commit itself to setting a long-term reduction target. For its mid-term goal, Japan will aim to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020, if compared to the 1990 level, consistent with what the science calls for in order to halt global warming.
  • This is a public pledge that we made in our election manifesto. I am resolved to exercise the political will required to deliver on this promise by mobilizing all available policy tools. These will include the introduction of a domestic emission trading mechanism and a feed-in tariff for renewable energy, as well as the consideration of a global warming tax.
  • However, Japan's efforts alone cannot halt climate change, even if it sets an ambitious reduction target. It is imperative to establish a fair and effective international framework in which all major economies participate. The commitment of Japan to the world is premised on agreement on ambitious targets by all the major economies.*47

In December 2009, the Minister of the Environment Sakihito Ozawa announced the start of "Challenge 25," a campaign to meet the emission reduction target mentioned above. The campaign will include proposals for life styles with less CO2 emissions, calling for action by the public.*48

Conclusion

The water and air pollution in Japan during the 1950s and 1960s imposed very high costs on residents, businesses and the government of Japan. However, with the introduction of environmental policy measures, Japan's environmental quality improved to become among the best in the world.

If these actions had been taken earlier, the costs incurred by the pollution could have been reduced substantially. Developing countries that take early action to improve their environments can avoid the high costs attributed to policy delays including the deterioration of health in the population and medical costs.

Establishing laws and setting proper standards are only the first step. Laws are only effective after they are properly enforced. Both capacity of public organizations for law enforcement and understanding among the private sector are needed for a successful reduction of pollutants. More environmentally-friendly lifestyles, energy conservation and the use of renewable energy such as solar cells are important in the fight against climate change.

Cooperation, among different ministries, between the central government and local governments, and between the public and private sectors is the basis for the effective enforcement of laws. Promoting understanding among the people and within the business community is necessary to encourage everyone to voluntarily take action that will reduce pollution and mitigate climate change. Messages by the leaders of the government are especially important for action both in the government and among the public. International action is vital for protection of the global environment.*49

February 18, 2010

Notes

  1. Overview of the Ministry of the Environment is available in a booklet issued in February 2006 and listed on the website of the Ministry. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/aboutus/pamph/html/index.html
  2. Ministry of the Environment. "History of Water environment" chapter in "Water Environmental Management in Japan", translated in 2004 and retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/water/wq/pamph/index.html
  3. National Institute for Minamata Disease, Ministry of Environment. Minamata Disease is described in a website "Minamata Disease Archives", retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.nimd.go.jp/archives/english/index.html
  4. English translation of the 1995 version (before the Ministry of the Environment was established) is listed on the website of the Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/laws/water/wlaw/index.html
  5. The standards are listed on the website of the Ministry of the Environment. Environmental Quality Standards for Water Pollution, retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/water/wq/wp.pdf
  6. Ministry of the Environment. Enforcement Status of the Water Pollution-related Laws in FY2008, retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/headline/headline.php?serial=1204
  7. Ministry of the Environment (2009). Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and Biodiversity in Japan 2009. (in Japanese, pp.151.). Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/policy/hakusyo/h21/pdf/2-2.pdf
    As for information in English, see Japan's Response to the OECD Environmental Performance Review of Japan (pp.21-22), retrieved in January 2001, from http://www.env.go.jp/houdou/gazou/6739/6739/050117c-1.pdf
  8. Ministry of the Environment. Results of the FY 2008 Water Quality Survey of Public Water Areas, retrieved in January 2001, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/headline/headline.php?serial=1190
  9. Ministry of the Environment "Results of the Monitoring of Public Water FY2008 (in Japanese)", publicized in November 2009, retrieved in February 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/water/suiiki/h20/full.pdf. Information on excess sites is on pages 41-43.
  10. Ministry of the Environment. Same as the above.
  11. Ministry of the Environment "Results of the Monitoring of Public Water FY2008 (in Japanese. Pp.51-53)", publicized in November 2009, retrieved in February 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/water/suiiki/h20/full.pdf.
    Also, information on water environment is collected and shown on a website "Comprehensive Information on Water Environment (in Japanese)", retrieved in February 2010 from http://www2.env.go.jp/water/mizu-site/
  12. Ministry of the Environment. Water Quality in Beaches (in Japanese), retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/water/suiyoku_cho/index.html
  13. Ministry of the Environment. Kaisuiyokujo Hyakusen (in Japanese), retrieved in January 2010, from http://www2.env.go.jp/water/mizu-site/suiyoku2006/
  14. Ministry of the Environment, Results of the measurement of groundwater (in Japanese), retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/press/press.php?serial=11835
  15. Ministry of the Environment (2004). Lake Water Study Committee Report. Retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/press/2004/1014a.html
  16. Ministry of the Environment. Water & Soil & Groundwater Environment Statistics, retrieved in 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/statistics/water/index.html#w_52
    More recent data is available in Japanese from Ministry of the Environment "Results of the Monitoring of Public Water FY2008 (in Japanese)", publicized in November 2009, retrieved in February 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/water/suiiki/h20/full.pdf, pp. 11.
  17. Infrastructure Development Institute-Japan (1999). The River Law: with Commentary by Article (pp. E3). Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.idi.or.jp/library/pdf/RIVERE.PDF
  18. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. River Administration in Japan (pp. 11-14) Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.mlit.go.jp/river/basic_info/english/pdf/RiverAdministrationInJapan(e).pdf
    As for water purification measures, see Rivers in Japan (pp.58,59), retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.mlit.go.jp/river/basic_info/english/pdf/riversinjapan.pdf
  19. Basic structure of the Law Concerning Special Measures for the Protection of Water Quality is included in "Measures to Reduce environmental Impact at Every Stage of Water Use" chapter in "Water Environmental Management in Japan", translated in 2004 and retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/water/wq/pamph/index.html
  20. Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, "Research on Efforts for Protecting Drinking Water Resources : March 2007 (in Japanese), retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.mhlw.go.jp/topics/bukyoku/kenkou/suido/jouhou/suisitu/o6.html
    As for drinking water supply in general, "Water Supply in Japan" was written in English by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare , retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/health/water_supply/menu.html
  21. Information on the problem of pollution such as asthma in the city of Yokkaichi is available in Japanese on a site created by Yokkaichi City. "Kogai Shiryokan", retrieved in February 2010 from http://www.city.yokkaichi.mie.jp/kankyo/kogai.htm.
  22. The English Translation of the 1996 version (before the Ministry of the Environment was established) is listed on the website of Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/laws/air/air/index.html
  23. Ministry of the Environment. Environmental Quality Standards in Japan - Air Quality. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/air/aq/aq.html
  24. Ministry of the Environment. Data for FY2008 was publicized in Japanese in December 2009. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/press/press.php?serial=11925
  25. The English translation is listed on the website of the Cabinet Secretariat. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?ft=1&re=01&dn=1&co=01&x=43&y=17&ky=%E9%9B%BB%E6%B0%97%E4%BA%8B%E6%A5%AD%E6%B3%95&page=5
  26. Ministry of the Environment (2009). Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and Biodiversity in Japan 2009 (in Japanese, pp.144), retrieved in February 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/policy/hakusyo/h21/pdf/2-2.pdf
  27. Ministry of the Environment. Contents of New Emission Regulation of Volatile Organic Compounds, retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/press/2005/0606a.html
  28. Ministry of the Environment. The press release on air pollution on 11 December 2009 (in Japanese), retrieved in February 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/press/press.php?serial=11889
  29. Ministry of the Environment. Atmospheric Environmental Regional Observation System, retrieved in January 2010, from http://soramame.taiki.go.jp/.
  30. Ministry of the Environment (2007) Annual Report on the Environment and the Sound Material-Cycle Society in Japan 2007 (in Japanese. pp. 29 in the paper version), retrieved in February 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/policy/hakusyo/h19/html/hj07010303.html#1_3_3
  31. Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/statistics/air/index.html#a_30
    A graph with more recent information is available in Ministry of the Environment (2009). Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and Biodiversity in Japan 2009 (in Japanese, pp.129), retrieved in February 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/policy/hakusyo/h21/pdf/2-2.pdf
  32. Created by the author from figures in the OECD Environmental Indicators 2005 (pp. 54,56)
  33. The long-term changes in NO2 concentration is shown in the Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and the Biodiversity in Japan 2009 (pp. 58). Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/wpaper/2009/index.html
  34. Ministry of the Environment (2009). Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/air/osen/jokyo_h20/rep01.pdf (pp.4. In Japanese)
  35. Ministry of the environment (2009). Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/air/osen/jokyo_h20/rep02.pdf (pp.7. In Japanese)
  36. The UNFCCC website lists the text of the Kyoto Protocol and related information. Retrieved in February 2010 from http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php
  37. English translation is listed on the website of the Cabinet secretariat. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?ft=4&re=01&dn=1&ty[]=A&ty[]=B&ty[]=C&ty[]=Z&ta=l0&x=94&y=25&ky=&page=5
  38. Ministry of the Environment . Introduction of Team Minus 6%, retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.team-6.jp/english/index.html
    Also, the Ministry lists sites related to Team Minus 6%. Retrieved in December 2009, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/earth/tm6/index.html
  39. Ministry of the Environment (2008). Annual Report on the Environment and the Sound Material-Cycle Society in Japan 2008 (pp.43-50. The comparison in thermal efficiencies of power plants is shown in Figure 3-2-3 on pp.46). Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.env.go.jp/en/wpaper/2008/index.html
  40. Ministry of the Environment(2009). Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and Biodiversity in Japan 2009, (pp21), retrieved in December 2009, from http://www.env.go.jp/en/wpaper/2009/fulltext.pdf
  41. English translation of Act on the Rational Use of Energy is listed on the website of the Cabinet Secretariat. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?ft=4&re=01&dn=1&ty[]=A&ty[]=B&ty[]=C&ty[]=Z&ta=j0&x=84&y=36&ky=&page=1
  42. The Energy Conservation Center Japan . Japan Energy Conservation Handbook 2009. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.asiaeec-col.eccj.or.jp/databook/2009e/index.html
  43. Calculated from data in the IEA Energy Balances of OECD/Non-OECD Countries (2008 edition)
  44. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (2009). Retrieved in December 2009, from http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/data/20090831_02.html
  45. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (2008). Retrieved in December 2009, from http://www.enecho.meti.go.jp/english/toprunnner/index.html
  46. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (2009). Retrieved in December 2009, from http://www.enecho.meti.go.jp/english/report/outline.pdf
  47. Cabinet Secretariat (2009). Retrieved in December 2009 , from http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/hatoyama/statement/200909/ehat_0922_e.html
  48. Ministry of the Environment. The Minister's Proposal in Japanese, retrieved in January 2010, from http://www.env.go.jp/earth/info/challenge25/
  49. Any view expressed in this paper is a personal view of the author and not an official view of the institutions to which the author belongs.

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