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The Cabinet is expected to approve a bill today that will oblige the central and prefectural governments to design and publicize their greenhouse gas reduction plans.

Under measures proposed to curb emissions, however, corporations — the main emitter of greenhouse gases — are only urged, not bound, to follow such steps. The bill, based on a draft recommendation submitted to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto by the Central Environment Council, is expected to be proposed to the Diet for deliberation during the current session, Environment Agency officials said.

The 16-article bill requires both the central and prefectural governments to draw up and publicize reduction plans and periodically report on how the measures are implemented.

Municipalities are urged to follow suit, but because many small towns and villages lack the human and financial resources to design their own plans, their participation is not required, the officials said.

Although mandatory emission reduction calls do not apply to corporations, environmental officials said the bill is significant because it provides a basic framework for the emission cuts Japan has set for itself on an international level.

The bill targets six greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous dioxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

These gases are subject to mandatory cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, which was agreed to in December at the third conference of parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At the conference, some 160 nations adopted the protocol, which imposed a legally binding 5.2 percent aggregate target on industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Japan’s target was set at 6 percent, while the United States agreed to a 7 percent cut and the European Union 8 percent. Japan is the first country to work out an emissions reduction bill following the Kyoto conference.

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