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Efforts to create an environmentally sustainable society in Japan have only just begun, according to the white paper on the environment for 1998.

The white paper, summarizing reports on national environmental issues in fiscal 1997 and measures urged for fiscal 1998, was adopted at a Cabinet meeting Friday.

The paper urges people to depart from a lifestyle based on mass production, consumption and disposal. Space for waste sites has shrunk nationwide and hazardous chemicals produced through waste incineration are posing a serious threat to public health, the paper says.

The government should conduct further studies on dioxin and develop more accurate monitoring methods, it says. Enforcement of environmental laws on recycling, air pollution and waste disposal also need to be strengthened, the report says.

According to the paper, materials used for Japan’s economic activities in 1996 weighed in at 2.01 billion tons, while the amount recycled fell short of 0.23 billion tons, for a recycling rate of only 10 percent.

New technologies for waste incineration and recycling, as well as economic incentives for businesses and local governments to introduce such technology, are the key to resolving the issue of illegal waste dumping, the paper says.

The paper also stresses the need for further studies on the controversial chemical substances known as endocrine disrupters, saying scientific knowledge about them is still limited.

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