In its inaugural white paper approved Tuesday by the Cabinet, the Environment Ministry is touting the merits of introducing an environment tax to help put Japan on a more environmentally sustainable path and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The annual environmental policy treatise focuses on creating a more sustainable, recycling-based economy, and fortifying ties with citizens by enhancing communication.
The document’s central theme is how to achieve “Wa no Kuni” — a phrase coined by the ministry meaning a recycling-intensive society that doesn’t harm the environment.
“Wa” does not just mean recycling, Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said. It also connotes interpersonal and international relations, as well as relations with nature.
The paper puts forth a blueprint for Japan to address three key issues: global warming, resource recycling and chemical pollution.
“An environment tax could be expected to appropriately reflect the environmental cost in the prices of goods and services and prove a valid way of lowering the environmental impact and emissions of carbon dioxide that result from the socioeconomic activities of individuals,” the paper says in regard to global warming.
Japan needs to improve on the recycling front as well, as only 10 percent of materials are currently reused and the nation’s landfills are quickly reaching capacity, according to the report.
The paper also says that, in order to solve environmental problems on a global scale, Japan should provide developing countries with more technology to help cut pollution levels and save energy.
It says Japan should actively make international contributions, in light of the fact that Japan’s economy has created environmental hazards overseas via its resource extraction, consumption and waste disposal.
Specifically, the paper calls on the government to increase the volume of official development assistance to help developing countries preserve their environment. It also calls on companies to improve the energy efficiency of electronic components that are exported abroad.
The report reiterates the nation’s Basic Environment Plan, revised last year, and its four goals — a sustainable society, coexistence with nature, citizen participation and international contributions to environmental protection — as the central policy tenets.
Enhanced communication with citizens and a “partnership” will also be crucial if Japan is going to succeed in building a sustainable society, the paper says.
The report also diverges from past reports in its format. At 460 pages, this year’s white paper is nearly a third shorter than past editions.
It is laid out in a larger, easier to read two-column format and departs from the traditional written form by adopting a writing style more readable and accessible to the public, officials said.
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