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Japanese NGOs join Thai protest

Bangkok Post | 13 February 2007


Japanese NGOs join Thai protest


Sixteen Japanese non-government organisations have joined the protest by Thai activists against the Thailand-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) by urging their government to remove tariff reductions for hazardous waste from the pact.

The tariff cut would facilitate trade in hazardous waste, which should be strictly controlled under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, said the NGOs and civil groups working on environmental health and human rights issues.

"We have grave concerns that the trade pact will result in opening doors for hazardous waste to be exported from Japan to developing countries," the activists said in a petition submitted to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his foreign, environment and economic trade and industry ministers on Sunday.

The NGOs, including Citizens Against Chemical Pollution and the Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Centre, also expressed concern over the spread of protests against Japan’s "waste colonialism", with developing countries signing bilateral trade agreements with Tokyo.

Japan has inked trade pacts with Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines and is currently working on similar agreements with India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

"We confirmed that those agreements contain a list of hazardous wastes, for which tariffs are to be eliminated," the groups said.

Japan’s avoidance of responsibility for its own waste by exporting it to developing countries was "absolutely unacceptable", they said. Old home electric appliances and computers supposedly exported for recycling were in fact not usable and ended up being dumped in the recipient countries.

The NGOs urged Tokyo to remove all text regarding the facilitation of waste export from the FTA and strictly comply with the principle of national self-sufficiency in waste management.

The Bangkok-based group FTA Watch yesterday issued a statement calling on the National Legislative Assembly to be prudent in endorsing the agreement to prevent any possible adverse impact on the country’s health and environmental protection and financial regulations.

FTA Watch president Sumlee Jaidee said the Ombudsmen’s Office recently asked the Constitution Tribunal to consider the constitutionality of the Thailand-Australia FTA, at the group’s request.

 source: Bangkok Post