Basic Environment Law and Basic Environment Plan

 The Basic Environment Plan is based on the Basic Environment Law, which outlines the general direction of Japan's environmental policies. The Basic Environment Plan seeks to achieve environmental conservation goals through cooperation between all sectors of society.
The plan maps out the basic approach of environmental policies from a perspective that extends to the mid-21st century and it sets four long-term objectives. It also defines the kind of initiatives that need to be taken by the early 21st century in order to meet these objectives.

Structure of the Basic Environment Law

●Enactment of the Basic Environment Law
 Before the enactment of the Basic Environment Law, Japanese environmental policies had been based on two fundamental laws - the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control, enacted in 1967, and the Nature Conservation Law, enacted in 1972. These laws, which were drafted to address serious industrial pollution and to preserve the natural environment, worked quite successfully.
 However, as Japan's social/economic system and consumer lifestyles came to rely more and more on mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal, this legal framework (which consisted mainly of restrictions) could no longer deal adequately with some of the newer and more complex environmental problems that emerged - like those relating to urban and household-generated pollution and the global environment.
 Thus, in November 1993, the Basic Environment Law was enacted to chart the direction of Japan's basic environmental policies. The primary purpose of the law is to ensure that the environment is protected to serve the needs of future generations. This can be achieved by working to shape an economically sustainable society that does not unduly stress the environment, and by contributing positively to the conservation of the global environment.

●Summary of the Basic Environment Law
 In its first chapter, the Basic Environment Law sets out three basic principles for environmental conservation, and the responsibilities of each sector of society - national and local governments, corporations and citizens - in living up to these principles.
The second chapter gives a list of basic environmental conservation policies, including the formulation of the Basic Environment Plan, the promotion of environmental impact assessments, economic reforms to remove obstacles to environmental conservation practices, and measures to deal with global environmental problems. The third chapter lists the councils needed to develop the policies listed in chapter two.

●Formulation of the New Basic Environment Plan

 The New Basic Environment Plan, "Guidepost for the Environmental Century," was ratified by the Cabinet in December 2000. The Basic Environment Plan, which is based on the Basic Environment Law, outlines comprehensive and long-term measures relating to environmental conservation for the entire government.
 Under the heading of "the current environmental status and the challenges for environmental policies," the plan describes "directions for environmental policies at the start of the 21st century," painting a picture of the ideal sustainable society that all of society should aspire to achieve. To make this kind of a society a reality, the plan calls for "incorporation of environmental considerations into every activity," "application and combination of policy methodology," "participation of every entity in society" and "efforts at every level, from local to international." In this process, according to the plan, four long-term objectives should be aimed for - "environmentally sound material cycle," "harmonious coexistence" "participation" and "international activities."
 The plan also gives more concrete measures, including a list of 11 strategic programs that need to be tackled intensively during the period of the plan.
 Furthermore, to ensure that it is effectively implemented, the plan calls for the government to enhance its systems for implementing measures and monitoring their progress.

Structure of the Basic Environment Plan,
"Guidepost for the Environmental Century"