• Kyodo News


Japan should set an ambitious target for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito told Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday.

“Though 100 percent of what I have said will not be reflected in his decision, I believe my feelings were communicated to the prime minister,” Saito said after meeting with Aso, who plans to reveal the emissions target Wednesday.

The government is expected to set the figure for 2020 at a 7 percent decrease from 1990 levels, or a 14 percent decline from 2005 levels. Saito has asserted that Japan should aim for a 15 percent to 25 percent cut from 1990 levels or a 21 percent to 30 percent reduction from 2005 levels.

According to Saito, Aso said he understood what the environment chief wanted to say. Saito added he will abide by the government’s decision once it is made.

Earlier in the day, Aso met with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai to hear his views on the emissions target.

“As we think alleviating the people’s burden is very important, I conveyed (this view) to the prime minister,” Nikai said.

Business and labor leaders asked Aso on Monday to set a national midterm greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020 at a 4 percent increase from 1990 levels, or a 4 percent drop from 2005 levels.

While declining to elaborate, Aso stressed Monday the government will try to avoid adversely impacting Japan when it deals with the issue. “I think it’s most important not to cause any disadvantages to Japan or cause damage to Japan’s national interests,” he said.

The request was made in separate meetings between Aso and Fujio Mitarai, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), and labor federation leaders from the electric and steel industries.

“The decision will affect the fate of industry circles for the next 10 years,” Mitarai said after the meeting. He said he had told Aso that companies will be exhausted and may not be able to protect employment if the target is set too high.

A government study panel has presented six options for greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2020, ranging from a 4 percent increase to a 25 percent cut from 1990 levels.

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