Staff writerTo achieve both economic growth and environmental protection, one must make compromises and seek “intermediate paths,” according to German Economic Minister Gunter Rexrodt.”Germany views the simultaneous achievement of economic growth and environmental protection as an important challenge,” Rexrodt said in his written response to questions sent by The Japan Times.In shaping environmental policy in a manner that is conducive to economic policy, he said, “an appropriate balance must be found between environmental policy and economic policy, (which includes) striking out on new intermediate paths and making compromises.” In this regard, he said, success in climate protection policy, in particular the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, is indispensable.At the upcoming environmental conference to be held in Kyoto, more than 150 signatory nations to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change will attempt to attach legally binding numerical targets to industrialized nations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions starting from 2000. Germany is a leading member of the European Commission and among its most aggressive members in putting forward reduction targets. The EU has been proposing a 15 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels.Conference host Japan has its own proposal, calling for a 5 percent reduction in principle by 2010, compared with the 1990 level. The proposal will have some flexibility because it takes into account such factors as economic growth and population increases, but it is bound to draw criticism from Germany and other European nations for being comparatively lenient.Turning to bilateral economic relations, Rexrodt noted that Japan is the nation’s most important trading partner in Asia, and that Germany is Japan’s most important trading partner in Europe. Thus, he said, German business and industry have been carrying out a “Japan initiative” campaign to encourage more German companies, especially small and midsize businesses, to boost their involvement in the Japanese market.Rexrodt called for Japanese companies to increase their presence in Germany, especially in the former East Germany. “The level of Japanese investment in Germany has stagnated for some time. Efforts of the German government toward increased Japanese investment activities have not yet produced the desired effect,” he said. “By comparison with other countries, for example, Japan ranges behind Finland in terms of investment by foreign countries in the Federal Republic’s new states.”
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