National

Tokyo bans 'dirty' diesel vehicles

The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Friday unanimously approved a revised ordinance banning diesel-powered commercial vehicles from the streets of Tokyo unless they meet a limit on emissions of carcinogenic particles.

The new measures, the first in Japan regulating emissions from diesel-powered vehicles, will be implemented gradually from April and take full effect in October 2003, metropolitan government officials said.

Speaking at a news conference after the session, Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said, “I think we have come up with the strictest ordinance in the nation and I would like to call on business operators and Tokyo residents to cooperate to make Tokyo’s air clean again.”

Ishihara also said he wants to bring the entire country, which has more lax regulations on diesel vehicles, in line with Tokyo’s ordinance.

The Tokyo government hopes the revisions to the 1969 antipollution ordinance will encourage a switch to environmentally friendly vehicles and the adoption of diesel particulate filters (DPFs).

Offenders will be fined up to 500,000 yen and their identities made public, the officials said.

The ordinance is targeted only at diesel trucks and buses already in operation. Passenger cars with diesel engines will be exempt from the controls for seven years after

registration as their volume of emissions is small, the officials said.

The metropolis plans to earmark some 1.9 billion yen in fiscal 2001 to subsidize the cost of installing clean-emission devices, the officials said.

The ordinance also obliges major business operators to draw up plans for switching from diesel vehicles to low-emission vehicles for submission to the Tokyo government.

It also bans the use of fuel using heavy oil, one source of air pollution.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to dispatch officials to conduct inspections of business operators and on roads to check for ordinance violations.

Truck and bus operators lambasted the move by the assembly, saying that while diesel-powered trucks and buses enter Tokyo from all parts of the nation, only vehicles registered in Tokyo will be eligible for the subsidies.

“It is deeply regrettable that the ordinance was passed without any amendments and we will watch developments regarding the metropolitan government’s support measures with strong interest,” said Eiji Toyoda, a senior official of the Japan Trucking Association.

The association of bus operators in Tokyo, with roughly 90 member firms, issued a statement saying that since the ordinance saddles bus operators with a heavy financial burden, sufficient support by the metropolitan government will be a condition for the ordinance to be fully implemented.

Exhaust emissions from diesel-powered vehicles, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, are believed to cause asthma and other respiratory diseases.