Japan set to oppose tobacco consumption cuts

Japan will formally oppose tobacco consumption cuts at an international conference in Geneva on a global treaty to control tobacco, government sources said Monday.

The position is expected to be included in a report that a Finance Ministry panel on tobacco will soon submit to Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa, they said.

The conference, starting Oct. 14, is expected to discuss a draft for the final stage of negotiations on a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty under the auspices of the World Health Organization.

Japan is known for being the most resistant among industrial countries to adopting an international treaty on tobacco controls.

The government’s position will clash directly with the objective of the proposed treaty — to reduce health damage arising from tobacco use by cutting back on consumption and output.

According to the sources, Japan will argue that tobacco should be defined as an “article of taste” for adults and not treated simply as something whose consumption must be cut.

The drive to control tobacco use should instead focus on providing information on the health risks involved, making efforts to prevent smoking among minors and curbing passive smoking in public spaces, the sources said.

Participating countries aim to reach an agreement on the global treaty by May.

The government is coordinating opinion among concerned agencies, including the Foreign Ministry; the Finance Ministry; the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry; and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, the sources said.