• Kyodo News


A proposed 15 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels may be acceptable as Japan’s medium-term target for 2020, environment minister Tetsuo Saito indicated Tuesday.

“The 15 percent cut may be one of the options,” Saito said at a regular news conference, departing from his previous stance of seeking a reduction in principle of 25 percent.

Saito expressed appreciation for the results of a recent government survey showing that 45.4 percent of voters, the biggest chunk, support a 7 percent cut as Japan’s 2020 emissions reduction target. “The results reflect” the Japanese people’s view, he said.

In the survey released Sunday by the Cabinet Secretariat, 15.3 percent of the respondents said they support a 4 percent increase, compared with 13.5 percent who support a 15 percent cut and 4.9 percent who favor a 25 percent reduction.

Saito said a 15 percent cut through domestic measures can be achieved if Japan develops solar power, next-generation motor vehicles and environmentally friendly homes.

Coupled with forest absorption of carbon dioxide and contributions to developing countries, Japan’s emissions cuts could reach 25 percent, he said.

In April, a government panel proposed six options for the 2020 emissions target — a 4 percent increase, a range from a 1 percent increase to 5 percent cut, a 7 percent reduction, a range of 8 percent to 17 percent reduction, a 15 percent cut, and a 25 percent cut, all from 1990 levels.

Prime Minister Taro Aso, who presided over a meeting on global warming at his office Sunday, said he will announce Japan’s 2020 target in mid-June.

On Tuesday, Saito published a statement addressed to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai opposing construction of a coal-fired thermal power plant in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.

In the statement, Saito said he would not approve the project, which he said “is problematic” in terms of Japan’s climate change policy.

Saito told reporters at the news conference Japan’s electric power industry as a whole has no framework for holding down its carbon dioxide emissions in 2013 and beyond. “This is the essential point of the problem,” he said.

He also said he has asked Nikai to work out such a sweeping framework.

In Copenhagen on Monday, Masamitsu Sakurai, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), urged the Japanese government to craft an ambitious medium-term target for emissions reductions.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.