Japanese Citizen Groups Urge the Japanese Government to Remove Wastes from JTEPA, to Seek National Self-Sufficiency in Waste Management, and to End the Strategy for Export to Developing Countries
Japanese Citizen Groups' Joint Statement, April 2, 2007
April 2, 2007
The Honorable Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
The Honorable Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Honorable Masatoshi Wakabayashi, Minister of the Environment
We are citizen groups who tackle the environmental, health, human rights, and agriculture issues.
The Japanese government expects the Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont will sign the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Japan from 2nd through 5th of April, 2007.
The texts of the JTEPA have never become available to the public in Japan so far. On the other hand, in Thailand, the government permitted representatives of citizen groups to view the texts of the Agreement with strict conditions before the public hearing held on December 22nd 2006. This was in response to the requests from citizens, NGOs, academics, and journalists, who were concerned that the JTEPA might open a door for import of hazardous wastes from Japan by eliminating tariffs for hazardous wastes, whose trade is to be strictly controlled under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
According to the representatives of the citizen groups such as the FTA Watch, the coalition of citizen groups in Thailand, who viewed the JTEPA texts, hazardous wastes (including ash and residues from the incineration of municipal waste, waste pharmaceuticals, municipal waste and sewage sludge) were listed as Tariff Zero Products, just like in the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. The Thai government also admitted that that was true. On January 9, 2007, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, based in Thailand, sent a letter calling for elimination of tariff reduction provisions for hazardous wastes from the JTEPA to the Japanese Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of the Environment.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia points out that statistic at the Thai Customs reveals that 396,809 tons of hazardous wastes (such as kelp ash, ash and residues from municipal waste incinerations, and other kinds of sludge) were imported to Thailand during the first eleven months in 2006 while being labeled as “Others” so as to clear custom entry. This amount of waste accounts for 98% of the total amount of wastes imported into Thailand by eight countries. The statistic also indicates that Japan is the only country who shipped 42 kg of medical waste in the name of “Chemicals or related industry” during the same period in 2006.
The FTA Watch says that the process of drafting and negotiation for the JTEPA is lacking in the public participation and that the public hearing on December 22, 2006, was held merely to make a good impression on the public.
The Japanese government has ratified the Basel Convention, adopted in 1989, but not the Basel Ban Amendment. The Ban Amendment of 1995 effectively banned all forms of hazardous waste exports from the developed countries to developing countries. Along with the US, Canada, and Australia, however, Japan has been strongly opposing to the Ban Amendment.
In addition, at the G8/3R Initiative meeting held in Tokyo in April 2005, Japan proposed the goal “to reduce barriers to the international flow of goods and materials for recycling and remanufacturing, recycled and remanufactured products.” In reality, reducing trade barriers for “recyclable goods and materials” means imposing a disproportionate burden of end-of life products containing hazardous materials onto developing countries under the pretext of building a sound material-cycle society on regional or global scales.
As discussed above, it is also evident that Japan is utilizing bilateral trade agreements with Asian countries to open the Asian region for Japan to dispose of and recycle its ever-increasing used products and wastes.
Both the Basel Convention and the Japan’s Waste Management Law clearly stipulate the principle and the obligation of achieving national self-sufficiency in waste management. If Japan ignores own national law as well as the international law, and avoids taking the responsibility for its own wastes by imposing the responsibility upon developing countries and thereby damages the environment and the health of the people in developing countries, it is absolutely unacceptable.
We therefore urge the Japanese government to take the following actions:
- Completely eliminate hazardous wastes from tariff reduction provisions in the JTEPA
- Commit not to include tariff reduction for waste in the forthcoming economic partnership agreements with developing countries in Asia and in other regions
- Strictly comply with the principle of national self-sufficiency in the management of wastes and secondhand goods, and stop relying on developing countries to take care of wastes and secondhand goods
- Prioritize the reduction of waste generation and promote 3R-related policies aimed at establishing a material cycle domestically
- Completely remove all references to reducing trade barriers for wastes from the 3R initiative
- Ratify the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment and put a total ban on export of hazardous waste to developing countries for any reason including for recycling
SIGNED BY (Alphabetical order):
Basel Action Network (BAN) / USA
Campaign for Future of Filipino Children (CFFC)
Chemical Sensitivity Support Center
Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution
Citizens Policy Research Committee
Forum for Peace, Human Rights and the Environment
Globalization Watch Hiroshima
Japan Family Farmers Movement (NOUMINREN)
Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center (JOSHRC)
Jubilee Kansai Network
Kansai Action Center on Philippine Human Rights Issues
No-to-WTO/FTA Grassroots Campaign
Stop! Dioxin East Japan Network
For more information: Takeshi YASUMA (Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution) can be reached via e-mail (email@example.com)
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