The Coal Mining Council, an advisory body to the minister for international trade and industry, convened Wednesday to start a one-year study of the government’s coal policy.

A subcommittee under the council will make its recommendations around this time next year on how the government should deal with the nation’s two remaining coal mines from fiscal 2002 on.

Their conclusion will effectively determine the fate of Taiheiyo Coal Mining Co.’s Kushiro colliery in Kushiro, Hokkaido, and Matsushima Coal Mining Co.’s Ikeshima colliery in Sotome, Nagasaki Prefecture, which are heavily dependent on government subsidies.

The current coal policy expires March 31, 2002, and there will be no special coal fund available unless the government decides otherwise.

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