Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 7

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21

Chapter 7 PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE HUMAN SETTLEMENT DEVELOPMENT

A) Providing Adequate Shelter for All

In Japan, the Government and local authorities cooperate with one another to contribute to the stabilization of people's living standards and the enhancement of social welfare, through such means as constructing houses that will allow wholesome and cultured living, making these houses available at low rents to people in low income brackets. Also, with three basic objectives of (i) "the formation of a stock of high-quality housing and a sound living environment"; (ii) "dealing with the aging society"; and (iii) "the formation of a sound living environment which will contribute to regional activation," Japan has established "The 6th Housing Construction Five-Year Program" as a measure for dealing with housing-related problems, including those presented by public housing. In addition to this, it is stated in "The Five-Year Economic Plan - sharing a better quality of life around the globe" decided upon by the Cabinet in 1992, that ensuring better housing, the essential basis of people's lives, is one of the most important issues in constructing an economic society which pays due regard to people's quality of life.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
By promoting continual expansion of investment in housing-related fields, accumulating high-quality housing and creating a safe and sound living environment, Japan will achieve improvement in housing standards.
(2)
Japan will realize rational and sound use of land in urban areas as well as renewal of urban functions as measures for improving illegitimate shelters as well as urban slums, developing projects to provide high-quality housing and to improve public facilities.
(3)
As part of a housing strategy aimed at environmental harmony, Japan will promote environmental measures, including conservation of resources such as that of energy in residences and buildings, and living in harmony with nature. As measures for dealing with global environmental problems, including that of global warming, Japan will promote, in a well-planned and integrated manner, with mutual cooperation between various levels of organizations, the creation of houses which reduce the burden on the global environment by promoting energy conservation, utilizing natural energy, including that of solar energy, and giving due consideration to water circulation and the recycling of waste. Furthermore, in order to encourage the construction of houses that address environmental problems, Japan will promote the construction of apartment complexes which satisfy certain requirements, such as reducing environmental load, and will increase public awareness of these efforts.
(4)
As regards international cooperation in the area of shelters, Japan has thus far conducted various activities based on the "Policy for Long-Term Action in the Area of Shelters (Decided by the Board for the Promotion of the 1988 International Year of Shelter for the Homeless)." In order to further contribute to the alleviation of the severe shelter-related problems confronting developing countries, Japan will also promote such activities as international seminars on human settlement policy and study missions on shelter, in addition to improving the level of its cooperation with the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (Habitat).

7-B) Improving Human Settlement Management

In recent years, the needs of the general public have not been limited to the improvement of the quality of houses themselves, but have also advanced and diversified, demanding improvements in the environment surrounding houses. The 6th Housing Construction Five-Year Program also mentions the necessity for improvement in wide-ranging living environments to suit the actual conditions of various areas.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As regards projects for the improvement of living environments, Japan is committed to providing high-quality housing, improving the infra-structure in areas where the living environment has deteriorated due to the concentration of dilapidated houses, and creating infrastructure such as roads and public parks. Japan will promote projects for the improvement of living environments in districts of intermediate standards among already existing urban areas by providing encouragement and advice to residents of those districts to make efforts on their own to realize such improvements.
(2)
The following projects for improving housing districts, all of which are conducted with the aid of the Government, include the Blighted Residential Area Renewal Project, the overall Community Living Environment Improvement Project, the Street Improvement Project, and the Small Community Area Improvement Project.
(3)
As regards countermeasures against neighborhood noise and offensive odors caused by daily life, Japan will assist the voluntary activities of local residents and will carry out model projects under the concept of soundscaping, as well as various kinds of activities to increase public awareness.
(4)
In order to prevent urban sprawl, Japan will work toward appropriate land useand urban development, , and will promote appropriate urban policies to develop cities in harmony with good environments.

7-C) Promoting Sustainable Land-Use Planning and Management

Considering that land is a limited, valuable resource for the general public, both for the present time and in the future, Japan is currently promoting comprehensive land policy, in order to realize appropriate land price standards which will conform to the value of land-use, and to ensure appropriate and rational land use, taking into consideration the conditions and environment of individual regions.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Japan will correct the excessive concentration of facilities and people in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area and disperse demand to other areas, by relocating and redeploying the capital functions, decentralizing metropolitan and industrial functions, and making improvements in the systems of transportation, communications and information.
(2)
Japan will contribute to the realization of appropriate land price standards by rectifying land transactions and consolidating the real estate transaction market.
(3)
By consolidating and substantiating land-use plans, Japan will promote appropriate and rational land-use, which takes into consideration the conservation of the natural environment, pollution prevention and other forms of environmental conservation.
(4)
Japan will promote the provision of housing and residential land, furthering housing development in metropolitan cities, ensuring availability of high-quality housing for rent, and promoting improvements in urban infrastructures.
(5)
Japan will promote effective land utilization, encouraging well-planned changeover of agricultural land in urbanized areas to residential land, the development of previously underused or unused land, and the use of national and public land.
(6)
Japan will rationalize land-related economic burdens through the land taxation system.
(7)
Japan will improve and substantiate information regarding land.

7-D) Promoting the Integrated Provision of Environment-Related Infrastructure:
Water, Sanitation, Drainage and Solid-Waste Management

Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As regards waterworks, Japan will develop measures for the construction of safe "high-standard waterworks" as we approach the 21st century, which will provide a stable supply of water and are resistant to water shortages and damage caused by earthquakes and other disasters, and which all Japanese citizens will find safe to use anywhere and any time.
(2)
As regards sewage, the Basic Plan for Public Investment states among its goals that the Government will encourage vigorous improvement in the small and medium-sized municipalities that have fallen behind larger cities, and planned to raise the sewerage service coverage ratio to approximately 70% by the year 2000. To achieve this goal, Japan will focus on improvement of sewage systems, including advanced treatment technology, based on the "Five-Year Plan for the 7th Stage of Sewage System Improvement."
(3)
Japan will encourage municipalities to formulate disposal plans for household wastewater, and promote the construction of community plants and "Gappei-Shori Johkasou", based on the Five-Year Plan.
(4)
In addition to increasing knowledge and public awareness regarding water conservation by holding Water Environment Forums, etc., Japan is making efforts to train counselors who would increase public awareness regarding measures for household waste water, and will continue to make efforts to appropriately implement these measures.
(5)
As regards solid waste, Japan will promote the construction of waste disposal facilities, including those for incineration and final disposal, in accordance with the Five-Year Plan. Japan will also promote the construction of environmental improvement facilities surrounding disposal facilities in order to encourage the construction of disposal sites on reclaimed land (Phoenix Project.) This will support the disposal of garbage in such wide areas as metropolitan spheres, where final disposal sites are difficult to construct, as well as lead to improvements on large-scale and high-quality industrial waste disposal facilities.
(6)
Domestically, Japan will promote improvements in the environment-related infrastructure in a comprehensive and well-planned manner, including projects for sewage system improvement, dredging, water conveyance, improvement of buffer green zones, and improvement of waste disposal facilities. These efforts are based on the Pollution Control Plan, covering areas where there is a remarkable level of pollution, as well as areas where there is concern that levels of pollution might become a problem. Japan will conduct environmental impact assessments of large-scale projects which might have a remarkable effect on the environment.

7-E) Promoting Sustainable Energy and Transport Systems in Human Settlements

Under the idea of "sustainable development," efficiently utilizing energy and reducing the environmental load when using energy are important requirements for establishing compatibility between the environment and development. Energy being an intermediary between environmental conservation and economic growth, it is necessary to address the issue of fundamentally reforming its demand-supply structure.

Taking this understanding into consideration, the promotion of the development and introduction of new and renewable energy sources, through such means as establishing laws like the "Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy" and the "Law Concerning the Promotion of the Development and Introduction of Alternative Energy," as well as devising the Basic Plan for Energy Research and Development. In addition to recently establishing the "Law for Provisional Measures regarding the Promotion of Business Activities which have to do with Rationalization of Energy Use and with the Use of Recycled Resources," Japan is putting greater efforts into such things as amending the Law Concerning the Rational Of the Energy Use, and the "Law Concerning the Promotion of the Development and Introduction of Alternative Energy" and the "Law on Special Accounts for Coal, Petroleum and Oil-Alternative Energy" (now known as the Law on Special Accounts for Coal, Petroleum and the More Sophisticated Structure of Demand and Supply of Energy).

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Disseminating and introducing energy with less environmental load, as well as promoting the efficient use of energy and resources.

In order to disseminate and introduce new and renewable energy, Japan will promote model projects and field test programs for the generation of new energy forms, utilize financial assistance measures as well as improve systems for the purchase and dissemination of excess electrical power from dispersed-type power sources by electric power companies. Japan will also provide financial aid for investment in and adoption of facilities for promoting energy conservation. Furthermore, Japan will promote the development and utilization of nuclear energy, under the condition that safety is assured, as a form of energy that does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

(2)
Promoting research and development on technology for energy with reduced environmental load, as well as technology for the efficient use of energy and resources.

In addition to promoting development of technology for enhancing the efficiency of thermal generation, technology for utilizing unused energy, technology for new and renewable energy in the "New Sunshine Project," and technology for conserving energy, Japan will promote research on next-generation technology for such energy forms as nuclear fusion.

(3)
Transferring technology for energy with reduced environmental load to developing countries, as well as technology for the efficient use of energy and resources.

In order to contribute to compatibility between environmental conservation and development in developing countries, Japan will conduct various kinds of surveys to provide assistance to developing countries in their efforts to deal with energy-related and environmental problems, receive trainees from developing countries, train people by dispatching experts to developing countries, and conduct joint research projects. Japan will also transfer and spread energy-related and environmental technology to developing countries through model projects for energy conservation and cooperation concerning new energy, including photovoltaic power generation project.

(4)
Realizing the efficient use of energy and reducing environmental load, as regards transportation.

In order to realize the efficient use of energy and reduce environmental load, as regards transportation, Japan will promote the selection of appropriate means of transportation in trunk-line distribution, improve the efficiency of transport by truck within individual regions, improve distribution centers, and establish an information network for promoting transportation and loading with maximum efficiency. Also, in order to promote the use of public transportation in the passenger transportation sector, Japan will improve the means of such transportation, including railroads, buses and new transportation systems, as well as promote a smooth connection between public transportation and transportation by vehicles. Furthermore, Japan will promote the improvement of a systematic network of roads, including bypasses, circumferential roads and intersections.

In addition to developing electric vehicles, methanol fueled vehicles, natural gas fueled vehicles and hybrid cars, Japan will also improve infrastructure necessary for these developments.

(5)
Promoting measures on traffic noise, etc.

In addition to the further improvement of the structures of individual vehicles through the reinforcement of noise regulations, Japan will promote comprehensive measures to deal with road traffic noise and vibration, including measures to deal with the flow of traffic through the improvement of a systematic network of roads, measures to deal with road structure through the establishment of environmental buffer zones and noise barriers, and measures to deal with noise along the roadside through appropriate land use along the road.

As regards measures addressing aircraft noise, Japan will promote measures to deal with the sources of noise, including the introduction and expansion of the use of aircraft with lower levels of noise as well as methods of operation that will reduce the levels of noise reaching the ground. Japan will also promote measures dealing with areas surrounding airports, including sound-arresting work in residential areas, improvement of buffer green zones, and land use measures.

Also, in order to reduce the levels of noise and vibration caused by the Shinkansen lines and other railways, Japan will introduce measures and technology addressing the sources of noise and vibration, and will also promote sound- and vibration-proofing work in houses and other buildings. In the case of Shinkansen noise, Japan will promote measures for 75 dB (A) for the time being, aiming to achieve the environmental quality standards.

(6)
Systematically dealing with the effective use of energy in residences

While improving heat insulation in residences, Japan will provide assistance for the construction of housing that incorporates new technology for the efficient use of energy, including systems of waste heat utilization and systems of photovoltaic power generation.

7-F) Promoting human settlement planning and management in disaster-prone areas

Both geographically and geologically speaking, Japan is prone to natural disasters, including earthquakes and meteorological events, and there have historically been great losses of human life and property in Japan. Since the typhoon that struck Ise Bay in 1959, the amount of human-related damage has been reduced due to the comprehensive and well-planned disaster countermeasures contained in the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act. Despite these countermeasures, around 100 to 200 people still lose their lives each year in natural disasters, and the past couple of years have witnessed an uncommon number of disasters due to such natural phenomena as earthquakes and typhoons in Japan. With approximately 50% of its population and 75% of its property concentrated in areas prone to flooding by rivers, and approximately 50% of its population and about 80% of its commercial sales amount concentrated in coastal areas, Japan needs to promote measures to deal with the effects of global warming, and to also a variety of disaster countermeasures, especially to improve flood-control facilities and coastal protection facilities. In carrying out such measures, due consideration should be paid to the environment. Furthermore, internationally speaking, with the 1990's designated as the "International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction" (IDNDR) resolutions with the objective of reducing damage from natural disasters throughout the world have been jointly proposed, mainly by Japan, and adopted in the United Nations.

Taking the above into account, Japan has been promoting, in a comprehensive and well-planned manner, scientific and technological research and development on disaster prevention measures, including exercises, facilities and equipment, measures for national land conservation including flood-control projects, and disaster emergency and recovery measures. With a United Nations General Assembly Resolution in May of 1989, Japan established the "Government Headquarters for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction," which is headed by the prime minister. In November of 1989, Japan created its "Basic Policy for Promoting Activities for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction".

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As regards Promotional Activities in support the International Decade for National Disaster Reduction, the Government has been cooperating with local authorities and private organizations on the promotion of various kinds of activities based on the following three points: (i) promotion of international cooperation and exchanges; (ii) promotion of disaster countermeasures in Japan; (iii) promotion of activities to increase public awareness. Japan will continue to promote these three points in the future as well.
(2)
In order to prevent disaster, in addition to forecasting, and the issuance of warnings for weather, high tides, and tidal waves (tsunami), Japan is improving the means to provide volcano- and earthquake-related information, including information for forecasting earthquakes, measures to prevent disaster on roads and to deal with earthquake-related disasters, projects to deal with snow and cold, national land conservation through the improvement of flood-control facilities, Sabo (erosion and sediment control) facilities, coastal protection facilities to preserve the coastlines, protection from floods and elimination of flood water by improving sewage systems, and measures for melting snow utilizing the heat from sewage. Japan will continue to promote these activities.
(3)
Amidst the circumstances of the recently changing social structure, Japan is presently studying ways to amend the "Basic Plan for Research and Development on Disaster Prevention" through the Scientific and Technical Committee. Japan will continue to promote these activities based on the revised Basic Plan.
(4)
Disaster prevention has been taken up as a topic for study by the "Working Party on Development Assistance and Environment" of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD, and from this perspective Japan has been providing assistance to developing countries in the form of the transfer of disaster-prevention technology, fostering experts in related fields, and the spread of public awareness in regards to disaster-prevention systems. Japan will continue to promote these activities.

7-G) Promoting Sustainable Construction Industry Activities

While the construction industry in Japan, including that covering architecture and civil engineering, has been active and influential in recent years, it is confronted by various problems, including the use of fluorocarbon, which causes ozone layer depletion, the increase of earth left over from construction and construction-related waste, the effect of construction materials on human health, and noise and vibration at construction and dismantling sites. The volume occupied by construction-related waste among the total amount of industrial waste has been rapidly increasing in recent years, and this problem needs to be dealt with immediately. Japan promotes measures to deal with these problems by providing guidance and assistance to people involved in public and private works, promoting reductions in the use of hazardous substances, promoting reductions in the amount of construction-related waste generated during the erection and dismantling of buildings, and encouraging recycling. It is necessary for Japan to promote the development of construction engineering methods that have a high level of productivity and operation.

Taking the above into account, Japan will conduct various activities as mentioned below, placing importance in surveys, research, measures for public assistance, and increasing awareness among the general public and related organizations:

(1)
In order to reduce construction-related waste at construction sites, Japan will promote the abolishment of over-packaging, as well as the prefabrication and precutting of materials. Also, as regards concrete panels, in order to promote rationalization in the consumption of tropical timber, Japan will promote the use of alternative timber, and the development and spread of construction methods that do not necessitate concrete panels.
(2)
In order to promote the effective use of resources, Japan will promote the reuse of recyclable materials, such as earth left over from construction, concrete and asphalt slabs, and f recycled materialssuch as particle boards. Also, in order to promote the appropriate disposal of construction-related waste, Japan will promote measures for the efficient erection and dismantling of buildings.
(3)
Japan will promote the use of housing and buildings constructed with due consideration to energy and resource conservation, the application of natural energy sources, and with efforts to maintain harmony with nature. Japan will also train people to acquire related technologies.
(4)
In order to enhance the durability of buildings and to reduce the frequency of the dismantling of buildings, Japan will promote the spread of a system for ensuring structural soundness, adaptability of water supply and drainage, and variability in room planning for prolonging the social viability of buildings.
(5)
In order to control the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Japan will promote the replacement of CFC-using air conditioning facilities with newly developed CFC-free equipment.
(6)
In order to enhance the efficiency of work conducted at construction sites, Japan will promote the simplification of on-site operations by means of industrialization, as well as by the rationalization of construction methods.
(7)
In addition to continuously monitoring the level of asbestos in the environments surrounding building repair and dismantling sites, Japan will conduct exposure assessments of hazardous air pollutants, including those indoors.
(8)
In order to reduce the levels of noise and vibration at construction and dismantling sites, Japan will promote research and development and diffusion of operational technologies as well as construction machinery that creates lower levels of noise and vibration.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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