• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden, which currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, on Saturday urged Japan to take a resolute stand toward ratifying the Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming.

“I really hope that the Japanese government will be strong and consistent in their support for the Kyoto Protocol,” Persson told Kyodo News, with a view to the resumed session in July’s Sixth Conference of Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany.

Persson stressed that the international environment agreement aimed at curbing global warming is “the only tool” to combat climate change globally. He made his remarks following the conclusion of the EU summit meeting in Sweden’s city of Goteborg.

In Europe there are widespread concerns over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s remarks in a Diet debate Wednesday, where he said, “At the moment, we have not decided to make a decision independently” from the U.S.

He was responding to Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, who urged the prime minister to seek Diet approval for the pact independently as a step to pressure the U.S. to change its position.

Koizumi’s comment appears to reflect Tokyo’s delicate position. A Japanese official in Tokyo told Kyodo by telephone, “Frankly, Japan is not so sure about going ahead without the United States,” because it may result in repercussions on relations between Tokyo and Washington, which is the axis of Japan’s foreign policy.

EU leaders agreed Friday to send a diplomatic mission to Japan, Australia and Canada in a bid to procure their commitments to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Persson said the failure of international negotiations on deciding the operational rules over the treaty would set the world back at least 10 years.

He also urged Japan to become more assertive in the upcoming resumed talks on global warming, in light of the EU leaders’ having obtained a pledge from U.S. President George W. Bush during a meeting Thursday that Washington will not counteract agreements made in Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

Last Monday, Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol as “fatally flawed” and called for an alternative requiring the participation of developing countries and more science-based solutions.

In 1992, the international society adopted the Framework Convention on Climate Change, after which the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 during the convention’s third meeting in Kyoto.

The protocol requires industrialized countries to impose binding limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.

This goal, however, was thrown into turmoil mainly because of the recent de facto withdrawal of the U.S., the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, from the treaty.

The EU has recently pledged to ratify the Kyoto treaty.

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