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Critique of the Japanese government’s strategy to export wastes to developing countries

The Honorable Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
The Honorable Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Honorable Masatoshi Wakabayashi, Minister of the Environment

December 8, 2006

Citizen Groups Joint Statement of Opinion

Critique of the Japanese Government’s Strategy to Export Wastes to
Developing Countries Under the Name of International Resource Recycling

We are citizen groups who tackle the environmental, human health, and human
rights issues.

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), singed by the
Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japanese Prime
Minister
Junichiro Koizumi on September 9, 2006, was approved by both the Lower
House and the
Upper House in Japan on November 14th and on December 6th respectively,
despite the
unsolved problem of waste trade liberalization provisions in the JPEPA.

The JPEPA includes a list of wastes, including hazardous wastes, whose
tariffs are to be reduced
or eliminated when being exported from Japan to the Philippines. This
elimination of trade
barriers for wastes has brought concern that the agreement could open a
door for dumping of
hazardous wastes controlled by the Basel Convention from Japan in the
Philippines. The
Philippine citizen groups and politicians have been actively protesting
against ratification of the
JPEPA. An English-language newspaper in the Philippines and the Mainichi
Newspapers (one of
the major Japanese newspapers) reported that farm lands near Manila were
“allegedly being
prepared to become a landfill for Japanese waste ahead of the ratification
of JPEPA” and farmers
of the area had united to protest against the agreement. At the Philippines
Senate, it has become
such a controversial issue that the discussions and voting on the JPEPA are
currently pending.
The international community is increasingly concerned about the
implications of the agreement
from the environmental and human rights perspectives.

The Annex 1 of the JPEPA contains the “Schedule of the Philippines,”
which indicates tariff
rate quotas and other preferential tariff treatments applied to goods
exported from Japan to
the Philippines. In the Schedule, various wastes are listed as Tariff Zero
Products. Examples
of such wastes are ash and residues containing arsenic or mercury; ash and
residues from the
incineration of municipal waste; waste pharmaceuticals; municipal waste;
sewage sludge;
and waste organic solvents. Those wastes are, however, not listed in the
Schedule of Japan.
the list of tariff rate quotas and other preferential tariff treatments
applied to goods exported
from the Philippines to Japan. Moreover, the Japanese version of the texts
of the agreement
publicly available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan contains
only the Schedule of
Japan, which doesn’t indicate the wastes mentioned above, and deliberately
omits the Schedule
of the Philippines, which indicates the wastes. This fact indeed seems to
be pointing to an
intention of the Japanese government to prevent the Japanese public from
knowing about the
JPEPA’s inclusion of trade liberalization for wastes.

At the commission for diplomacy and national security of the Japanese
House of
Councilors held on December 5th, the government side was asked if they
would agreed to
remove all listings of waste from tariff reduction provisions and to make a
commitment not
to export any hazardous waste. They fudged the issue by pointing out the
international
agreements such as the Basel Convention, of which Japan and the Philippines
are both
Parties, as well as the Article 20 of the GATT 1994 indicated in the
Article 23 of the
JPEPA. The GATT Article 20 states that measures necessary to protect human,
animal or
plant life or health, and to conserve scarce natural resources, can be
cited as reasons for
bypassing normal trade rules.

What the Japanese government didn’t refer to is the Article 4 of the
JPEPA, which allows
“each party to examine the possibility of amending or repealing laws and
regulations that
pertain to or affect the implementation and operation of this Agreement,
if....circumstances or objectives can be addressed in a less
trade-restrictive manner.” This
makes it clear that it is possible for the JPEPA to override the existing
laws and regulations
that control and prohibit waste trade, in order to facilitate waste trade.

The Japanese government has ratified the Basel Convention, adopted in 1989,
but not the
Basel Ban Amendment, which effectively banned as of 1 January 1998 all
forms of
hazardous waste exports from the most industrialized countries of the
Organization of
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to all non-OECD countries.
Along with
the US, Canada, and Australia, Japan has been strongly opposing to the Ban
Amendment.

Also, 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” tends to mean imposing a
disproportionate burden of end-oflife products containing hazardous
materials onto developing countries under the pretext of
building a sound material-cycle society at the regional or global levels.

In addition, like in the case of JPEPA, there is strong evidence that Japan
is using bilateral
Economic Partnership Agreements with Asian countries so as to establish a
regional waste
management system in Asia, on which Japan can rely to take care of obsolete
second-hand
products and wastes generated in Japan.

Both the Basel Convention and the Japan’s Waste Management Law clearly
state the principle
and the obligation of achieving national self-sufficiency in waste
management. Therefore, it is
absolutely unacceptable from the environmental justice standpoint if Japan
ignores the laws
and avoids taking the responsibility for its own wastes by shifting the
responsibility to
developing countries and thereby damages the environment and human health
in developing
countries.

We therefore call on the Japanese government to:

  1. Commit not to export hazardous wastes to the Philippines even after the
    JPEPA going into effect
  2. Not include waste trade liberalization provision in any bilateral
    free-trade agreements with developing countries in the future
  3. Strictly comply with the principle of national self-sufficiency in
    management of wastes
    and recyclable products, and thus abandon such waste management policies
    that rely
    on developing countries
  4. Prioritize the reduction of waste generation and promote 3R-related
    policies aimed at
    establishing a sound material-cycle system within the borders
  5. Completely remove from the 3R initiative all references to the goal of
    reducing trade
    barriers for wastes, and cease the efforts to liberalize waste trade
    globally
  6. Ratify the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment and put a total ban on
    export of
    hazardous waste to developing countries for any reasons including for
    recycling

END

Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution
Campaign for Future of Filipino Children (CFFC)
NO-TO-WTO Grassroots Campaign
Citizens Policy Research Committee
Chemical Sensitivity Support Center
Citizens’ Group to review the "50th Anniversary of the Philippines and Japan Friendship"
Asian Farmers Exchange Center
Jubilee Kansai Network
Basel Action Network (BAN)

For more information: Takeshi YASUMA (Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution) can be reached via e-mail ([email protected])


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