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Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara hailed Wednesday’s enforcement of new regulations to curb emissions from diesel-powered trucks and buses.

In an address at the metropolitan government building in Shinjuku Ward, Ishihara told a 70-member special task force for reducing suspended particulate matter in Tokyo to strictly inspect diesel-powered vehicles to make sure they adhere to the regulations.

(central) government has been dragging its feet in taking measures (to reduce air pollution),” Ishihara said. “We (local governments) want to set a new pattern (for solving the air pollution problem) in cooperation with the people concerned.”

Beginning Wednesday, Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa are cracking down on diesel-powered vehicles, except cars, if their emissions of particulate matter exceed set standards.

The metropolitan government, for example, bans diesel trucks weighing 3.5 tons or more if the vehicles emit 0.25 grams or more of particulate matter to produce the power equivalent of 1 kilowatt hour.

The regulations apply to diesel-powered vehicles in use for seven years or more. Operators of diesel-powered vehicles that do not meet the standards must either replace their vehicles or attach diesel-particulate filters approved by the local governments.

If operators violate the regulations, they could face a maximum fine of 500,000 yen.

Ishihara has been taking the initiative in imposing such regulations, which are stricter than those set by the central government, by pointing out that particulate matter is a major source of air pollution. In 2002, the density of suspended particulate matter in Tokyo surpassed the central government’s acceptable levels.

Officials estimate between 20 percent and 40 percent of diesel-powered vehicles in the metropolitan area do not meet the standard, and that the compliance rate of vehicles coming from outside the metropolitan area is even worse.

Vehicle operators who are in the process of refitting their vehicles to meet the emission standard will be issued a certificate that will spare them from sanctions.

Kanagawa Prefecture plans to have a half-year moratorium for vehicle operators before imposing penalties.

Information from Kyodo added

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