Ministries need to transcend their differences and agree to a comprehensive policy to combat global climate change if Japan hopes to successfully host the third U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, according to an environmental bureau officer at a press conference July 16 in Tokyo.

Very intense discussions are necessary to achieve consensus and policy agreement, said Hironori Hamanaka, director general of the Global Environment Department Planning and Coordination Bureau. “The recent initiative taken by Prime Minister Hashimoto is important to accelerate the internal process and build consensus,” Hamanaka said, referring to Hashimoto’s instruction to the heads of the Environment Agency, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Finance Ministry to clarify their positions by the end of the month.

The Japanese government needs “well coordinated and specific positions so it can play a leading role in advancing the discussion in Kyoto,” said Hamanaka. To do this, leaders will need to come up with numerical targets, policies to achieve the targets and ways to advance existing agreements.

With less than five months until the 165 signatories of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change convene in Kyoto to set goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the next century, the Japanese government is pushing to formulate policies that will be approved at home and abroad.

In addition to internal government differences in opinion, international disputes over policy have arisen. “We have certain problems with the EU proposal. We don’t think a 15 percent reduction (by 2010) is realistic for other parties to attain this very ambitious goal,” Hamanaka said, acknowledging that Japan needs to create its own policy and quantitative targets.

Hamanaka, speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, said he personally believes that while deep cuts may not be possible, modest cuts based on 1990 emission levels may be possible by 2010.

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