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Thirty-five prefectural governments have decided to introduce or are considering introducing an additional tax to promote forest conservation and regeneration, according to a Forest Agency report.

Kochi, the first prefecture to introduce such a tax, began adding 500 yen a year to the prefectural residential tax for individuals and corporations in April for forest preservation.

Aichi plans to introduce a forest tax in fiscal 2005, and Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa has said he will propose to the prefectural assembly a new “environment tax” aimed at preserving the water source by next March.

To protect forests, many of the prefectures are considering collecting an additional tax mainly in two ways, according to the agency’s report.

One way, as in Kochi’s case, involves adding an equal amount of environment tax to the current prefectural tax, while the other involves levying a certain amount of tax in accordance with how much water people use.

Shimane is currently studying whether the prefecture should collect 1 yen extra from people each time they use 1 cu. meter of water, or 500 yen extra annually in the form of a prefectural tax, according to prefectural officials.

If the former plan is adopted, the tax revenue would be 90 million yen annually, and if the latter is adopted, it would be 120 million yen, the officials said.

Tottori and Okayama are also working toward introducing a tax at a water-metered rate, while Yamanashi is considering one on mineral water, as about half the mineral water produced in Japan is from the prefecture.

But beverage manufactures oppose the plan, Yamanashi officials said.

Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita are considering a joint forest-protection tax, as are Yamaguchi, Okinawa and prefectures in Kyushu.

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