Big business plans revolt against DPJ’s 25% emissions-reduction goal

by Hiroko Nakata

The nation’s industries plan to jointly pressure the government to be formed by the Democratic Party of Japan to back off from its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, business sources said Wednesday.

The business leaders are expected to submit the request soon after the DPJ, which is more proactive on environmental issues than its predecessor, the Liberal Democratic Party, forms its Cabinet on Sept. 16, the day DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama is expected to be voted in by the Diet as prime minister.

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), the nation’s most powerful business lobby, intends to get industry leaders’ opinions in shape by its regular monthly meeting on Sept. 14, a Keidanren source said.

On Wednesday, Nippon Keidanren, headed by Canon Inc. Chairman Fujio Mitarai, called an urgent meeting to discuss policy, the source said.

The request follows similar criticism of the LDP’s target, which was to cut emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Business leaders, however, are simply calling the DPJ’s target a 30 percent cut, not 25 percent, below 2005 levels.

The DPJ’s target is “pretty severe,” a senior executive at Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday. “Keidanren and each industry are planning to say out loud that the DPJ should turn back this target,” he said, adding that Nippon Keidanren is working at the behest of the nation’s industries.

The business circles will urge Hatoyama not to pledge a numerical target when he attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 21, the sources said.

The Diet will convene a special session Sept. 16 to elect the next prime minister. The DPJ is expected to launch a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) soon after Hatoyama officially takes office.

The DPJ’s greenhouse gas reduction target has raised the worries of big business.

“We have concerns about its feasibility in view of the impact on economic activities and employment, as well as the enormousness of the public burden,” Satoshi Aoki, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufactures Association, said in a written statement Monday.

“The target is an extremely harsh level, which could also have a big impact on public life and industries over the future,” Shosuke Mori, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, also said in a written statement the same day.