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Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, head of the Democratic Party of Japan and the prime minister-in-waiting, has announced that Japan will seek a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. This is an ambitious target that could put Japan on the path to a low-carbon society. It could also give impetus to international efforts to work out a new framework for reducing emissions in and after 2013. The current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

In June, Prime Minister Taro Aso proposed reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 (8 percent reduction from 1990s levels). This represents net reductions in emissions in Japan. Mr. Hatoyama’s target is believed to include reductions that developing countries have achieved as a result of Japan’s financial and technological assistance and gas absorption by forests.

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