Japan needs to introduce a carbon tax to cut greenhouse gas emissions and achieve its target under the Kyoto Protocol, according to Environment Minister Yuriko Koike.
As another measure to tackle global warming, the government staged the “Cool Biz” campaign last summer to promote lighter clothing in offices to reduce use of air conditioners. Koike actively promoted the effort and succeeded in making the more casual dress code popular among the public.
There was speculation before the Cabinet reshuffle that Koike would be rewarded for successfully running against a candidate who opposed Koizumi’s postal privatization drive in the Sept. 11 election.
Asked whether she was disappointed with being retained as environment minister, Koike said on the contrary she was happy.
“I was concerned that (the no-necktie trend promoted by the Cool Biz campaign) might be reversed if a minister with a tie was appointed” to the post, she said. “The ministry will work hard to spread the dress code next summer, too.”
Referring to public concern over asbestos problems, Koike said the government is currently discussing details of a bill that would provide financial aid to victims of asbestos-related mesothelioma who cannot receive assistance under current laws.
She said the government aims to submit the bill to the Diet early next year so the victims can receive the aid as early as possible.
While serving as the environment minister, Koike continues to hold the portfolio of minister in charge of Okinawa and affairs related to the Northern Territories.
Late last month, Tokyo and Washington agreed on an interim report on realigning the U.S. forces in Japan — including moving the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, further northeast to Camp Schwab and a section of shallow water offshore.
Koike said she will make efforts to gain the understanding of Okinawa residents for the plan by promoting discussions between the public and the central government.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin is slated to visit Tokyo later this month, Koike said she will try to raise public awareness on the territorial dispute over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.