Environmental Policy

The Basic Environment Plan - Part III-Chapter 1

Chapter 1. Building a Socioeconomic System Fostering Environmentally Sound Material Cycle

    • 1. Basic Direction
    • 2. Comprehensive measures and systematic implementation
  • Section 1.Conserving the Atmosphere
        • Reference 1. Environmental quality standards for air pollution and noise pollution
    • 1.Conserving the global atmosphere
      • 1.1Global warming
        • Reference 2. Targets under the Action Program to Arrest Global Warming
        • Reference 3. Japan's Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 1990
      • 1.2Protecting the ozone layer
        • Reference 4. Ozone depleting substances production/consumption control schedule
    • 2.Preventing broadly spreading air pollution
      • 2.1 Acid rain
      • 2.2 Photochemical oxidants
    • 3.Preventing urban air pollution
      • 3.1Nitrogen oxides
        • Reference 5. The target for achieving environmental quality standards for nitrogen dioxide
        • Reference 6. The targets concerning the curtailment of the aggregate nitrogen oxides burden
        • Reference 7. The target of increasing low-emission vehicles
      • 3.2 Airborne Particles
    • 4. Measures on toxic substances
    • 5.Improving living environment
      • 5.1 Noise and vibration control
      • 5.2 Offensive odor
      • 5.3 Other
    • 6. Establishing a system for monitoring the atmosphere
  • Section 2.Conserving the Water Environment
    • 1.Environmentally sound water circulation
      • 1.1Archiving the environmental quality standards and other targets
        • Reference 8. Environmental quality standards on water quality
      • 1.2 Restoring and maintaining sound water circulation
      • 1.3 Measures in accordance with specific regional characteristics
      • 1.4 Fair burden sharing
    • 2.Reducing environmental load at each stage of water use
      • 2.1 Types of Environmental burdens and their reduction
      • 2.2 Developing and disseminating technology for water conservation
      • 2.3 Ensuring the safety of water environment
    • 3.Conserving the environment in closed water system
    • 4. Conserving the marine environment
    • 5. Establishing a system for monitoring the water environment
  • Section 3.Conserving the Soil and Ground Environment
    • 1.Safety of the soil environment
        • Reference 11. Environmental quality standards for soil pollution
    • 2.Conserving the ground environment
  • Section 4.Policies on Waste and Recycling
    • 1. Reducing waste generation
    • 2.Promoting recycling
      • 2.1 Reuse
      • 2.2Collection and regeneration
      • 2.3 Packaging
      • 2.4 Recycling facilities
      • 2.5 Environmental consideration in recycling
    • 3.Promoting proper waste disposal
      • 3.1 Disposal facilities
      • 3.2 Cooperation between local governments and corporations
      • 3.3 Environmental consideration in waste disposal
  • Section 5.Policies on Environmental Risks of Chemicals
    • 1. Evaluating environmental risks
    • 2. Reducing environmental risks
  • Section 6. Environmental Consideration in Technological Development etc.


  • Chapter 2. Harmonious Coexistence Between Nature and Humankind
  • Chapter 3. Participation by All Sectors of Society Sharing Fair Burden
  • Chapter 4. Measures Forming the Basis of Environmental Policy
  • Chapter 5. Promoting International Activities

1. Basic Direction

Burdens on the atmosphere, water and soil are caused by interference with nature's normal circulation of materials. To prevent this burden from occurring, newly developed technology should be implemented and investments should be made. In this manner it will become possible to increase the speed of natural breakdown of waste materials or increase the efficient use of resources and energy. Improvements should be made in the production process. The flow of people and products should be made more efficient. The use of environmentally friendly products should be increased. Proper recycling methods and waste disposal practices should be employed. New energy sources and the development of reusable energy should be promoted.

There is a fear that immense and/or irreparable burdens may be imposed since scientific certainty on the environment is lacking. Therefore, measures, designed with ample scientific knowledge that utilize strict cost/benefit tests should not be delayed. Burdens on the atmosphere, water and soil, as impartially as possible, should be reduced. Measures for waste disposal, recycling and measures to reduce the environmental risk of toxic chemicals should be implemented, as should far reaching measures that take into account new problems, arising from advances in technology.

2. Comprehensive Measures and Systematic Implementation

Goals and guidelines necessarily shall be established, setting standards, based on the Basic Environmental Law, to maintain a healthy environment. The following measures, with the mutual cooperation of each sector of society, shall be systematically implemented. In particular, comprehensive examinations shall be performed on as yet unachieved environmental quality standard provisions and measures to hasten their attainment.

Page top↑

Section 1. Conserving the Atmosphere

The atmosphere is borderless. For this reason, burdens on the atmosphere could lead to a wide range of problems, at both the atmospheric and surface levels. Changes in atmospheric composition can lead to problems of global proportions. Advection and reaction can create problems for large areas, while accumulation of harmful substances in the atmosphere creates a dilemma for metropolitan areas. Various toxic substances pose health hazards and atmospheric changes affect human environments at the regional level.

To solve these problems, measures in accordance with each of the following basic aims shall be implemented. Achieving the Environmental Quality Standards and Other Targets

Objectives, designed with an ample scientific knowledge, shall be established setting environmental quality standard goals, according to the special characteristics of each problem and environmental burdens reduction goals. Appropriate measures for the attainment and maintenance of these goals shall be promoted.

Reducing Environmental Load from Various Socioeconomic Activities

Comprehensive environmental burden reduction measures shall be promoted to reduce burdens resulting from socioeconomic activities like industrial production, transportation and routine activities of individuals.

Consideration of the Relationship with Water, Soil and Ecosystem

Measures directing attention to the ecological impact of burdens on the atmosphere, the atmosphere's relationship with water and soil, the cleansing and climatic moderating properties of green spaces shall be promoted.


Environmental quality standards for air pollution and noise pollution

(based on the Basic Environment Law)

Nitrogen Dioxide: Daily average to be within or below 0.04ppm-0.06ppm

Sulfur Dioxide: Daily average to be below 0.04ppm, and hourly average below 0.1ppm

Carbon Monoxide: Daily average to be below 10ppm, and 8-hour-average below 20ppm

Suspended Particulate Matter: Daily average to be below 0.10mg/m3, and hourly average below 0.20mg/m3

Photochemical Oxidants: Hourly average to be below 0.06ppm

Noise: Decided by area type and time classifications. Areas beside roads are given different values, as are areas near Shinkansen ('bullet-train') tracks or airports.

1. Conserving the Global Atmosphere

Global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer are environmental problems of a long-term nature and may harbor seriously threatening consequences. Measures, designed with ample scientific knowledge, preventative in nature, must be promoted.

1.1. Global Warming

The problem of global warming cannot be solved by a single country. It must be solved with international cooperation. Our ultimate objective is the same with that of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , i.e. "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." Consideration shall be paid to the provisions of the Convention that "such a level should be achieved within the time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner."

Among developed countries, there is a consensus that further consideration is needed to promote commitments by all the contracting parties, and to clarify the measures beyond the year 2000 for which the Convention have no provisions. In this context, in the medium term, Japan will make further efforts to promote various measures in cooperation with other countries as well as to the formulation of the new international framework to arrest global warming.

For the time being, we will aim at attaining the goal of our Action Program to Arrest Global Warming that we committed to promote at the UNCED, in cooperation with the international community. We will continue to promote various measures in the Program, monitoring the status of implementation annually, and fully taking into account new scientific knowledge.


Targets under the Action Program to Arrest Global Warming

(October 1990, Cabinet Ministers' Conference on Global Environmental Problems)


The targets for the limitation of greenhouse gas emissions shall be set as follows.

The Government, based on the common efforts of major industrialized countries to limit CO2 emissions, establishes the following target for the stabilization of Japan's CO2 emissions.
The emission of CO2 should be stabilized on a per capita basis in the year 2000 and beyond at about the same level as in 1990, by steadily implementing a wide range of measures under this Action Program, as they become feasible, through the utmost efforts by both the government and private sectors.
Efforts should also be made, along with the measures above, to stabilize the total amount of CO2 emission in the year 2000 and beyond at about the same level as in 1990, through progress in the development of innovative technologies, etc.., including those related to solar, hydrogen and other new energies as well as fixation of CO2 at the pace and in the scale greater than currently predicted.
The emission of methane should not exceed the present level. To the extent possible, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases should not be increased.

With respect to sinks of CO2, efforts should be made to work for the conservation and expansion of forests, greenery in urban areas and so forth in Japan and also take steps to conserve and expand forests on a global scale, among others.

(Duration of the Action Program)

The Action Program covers the period from 1991 to 2010, with 2000 set as the intermediate target year. During this period, the Action Program should be reviewed, as necessary, for its flexible response to international trends, accumulated scientific findings and so on.


Japan's Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 1990

(September 1990, Japan's Action Report on Climate Change based on the Framework Convention)

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Per Capita
2.59 tons of carbon/capita
Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions
320 million tons of carbon
Total Methane Emissions
1380 Gg (1Gg(Gigagram)=1000tons)
Total Nitrous Oxide Emissions
48 Gg

1.1.a. Limiting CO2 Emissions

A. Formation of urban and regional structures with low CO2 emissions

The measures to be promoted include:

increase of greenery in cities to alleviate the heat-island phenomena,
propagation of energy-saving buildings,
introduction of co-generation systems,
utilization of unused heat from urban activities such as subway through usage of heat pumps,
diffusion of district heating systems,
supply of heat from waste incineration and
utilization of energy from sewage sludge.

B. Formation of transport systems with low CO2 emissions

The measures to be promoted include:

reduction of CO2 emissions from individual motor vehicles,
increase of energy efficiency of trains, ships and airplanes,
introduction of automobiles with low CO2 emissions, including electric cars,
modal shift to mass transit systems such as railways and ships in areas of medium or long transport between major terminals,
improvement of transport efficiency to trucks,
maintenance and usage of public means for passenger transport,
construction of bypasses, ring roads and other facilities to mitigate traffic jams, and
facilitation of sophisticated traffic control systems.

C. Formation of production structures with low CO2 emissions

The measures to be promoted include:

improvement of combustion efficiency,
introduction of energy-saving manufacturing facilities and production processes,
improvement of energy efficiency of farming machinery and fishing ships, among others, and the use of natural energy in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and
improvement of energy efficiency in construction machinery in the construction sector.

D. Formation of energy supply structure with low CO2 emissions

The measures to be promoted include:

increase of energy efficiency in conversion process including improvement of power generation efficiency,
development and use of nuclear power, based on the assurance of safety,
use of hydraulic and geothermal energy, photovoltaic and wind power system, and natural gas,
introduction of dispersed power generations, such as fuel cells and photovoltaic cells,
development of the infrastructure for the use of LNG as urban gas, and
to smooth out electric demand differences between day and night.

E. Realization of lifestyles with low CO2 emissions

The measures to be promoted include:

a review of excessive packaging,
use of products with low CO2 emissions,
introduction of the "daylight saving system",
reduction of working hours,
appropriate temperature adjustment in air condition and heating, and
introduction of high energy efficiency equipments.
1.1.b Reducing Emissions of Methane and Other Greenhouse Gases

Measures shall be promoted to reduce methane emissions in waste disposals, agriculture and energy production and utilization. The Development of technologies and new measures shall simultaneously be promoted. Nitrous oxide emissions shall be monitored and control measures shall be considered. The contribution on global warming caused by other substances shall be assessed.

1.1.c. Enhancing CO2 Sinks

The conservation of forests shall be ensured and sustainable forest management be promoted. Furthermore, the greens in and around cities shall be adequately conserved and increased through increasing vegetation in parks and other public facilities. Efforts shall also be made to promote appropriate trade of tropical timber and the efficient use of timber resources.

1.1.d. Promotion of Research and Observation/Monitoring

Comprehensive research such as the understanding of the mechanism of global warming and future prediction, assessment of impacts on Japan, policy planning and its evaluation, and studies on global warming focusing on the Asian-Pacific region shall be promoted. Observation and monitoring by satellites and the dissemination of data shall also be promoted.

1.1.e. Development and Dissemination of Technology

The development of technologies to limit greenhouse gas emissions, technologies for absorption, fixation, etc. of greenhouse gases and technologies for adaptation to global warming shall be promoted.

1.1.f Promotion of Public Awareness

The dissemination of the outline of the Action Program and precise information and environmental education shall be promoted. Furthermore, voluntary actions shall be supported.

1.2. Protecting the Ozone Layer

Based on the Law Concerning the Protection of the Ozone Layer through the Control of Specified Substances and Other Measures, the production of the ozone depleting substances (specified CFCs etc.) shall be regulated in accordance with the schedule provided by the Montreal Protocol, and measures shall be taken for emission control and rational use of these substances. Furthermore, the Government shall promote recovery, recycling and destruction of these substances through development of related technologies, establishment of the social system to enhance their recovery, recycling and destruction under fair share of burden, diffusion of knowledge, etc. Other measures include development of alternative substances and technologies taking other environmental impacts into consideration, research on the mechanisms of ozone layer depletion, monitoring of ozone layer, etc.


Ozone depleting substances production/consumption control schedule

(based on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, revised November 1992)

  • CFC 1996 phased out
  • Halon 1994 phased out
  • Carbon tetrachloride 1996 phased out
  • 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 1996 phased out
  • HCFC 2030 phased out
  • HBFC 1996 phased out
  • Methyl Bromide 1995 stabilized at 1991 level

2. Preventing Broadly Spreading Air pollution

The problems of acid rain and photochemical oxidants result from transportation and reaction of pollutants in the atmosphere. If acid rain continues at its present rate, it is feared that the ecosystem will be detrimental affected. There is also anxiety that the effects of acid rain in East Asia and particularly in Japan will worsen. Presently, there has been no progress in preventing pollution from photochemical oxidants. To correct these problems, the following measures shall be promoted.

2.1. Acid Rain

It is feared that acid rain is inflicting burdens upon the ecosystem and the long-term effects of acid rain the ecosystem are unclear. Measures, designed with ample scientific knowledge, must be promoted to prevent it. These measures take into consideration the possible impact of advection from continents and large cities. While conducting surveys, observations and investigative research on pollution, its mechanisms and effects on the ecosystem should also be determined.

2.2. Photochemical Oxidants

Contamination by photochemical oxidants has been spreading over vast areas. The government, in cooperation with local governments, shall promote regional and comprehensive measures such as regional observations, investigations on the contaminating mechanisms of these chemicals, and emission control of pollutants. These measures shall be coordinated in conjunction with those of acid rain.

3. Preventing Urban Air Pollution

The problem of nitrogen oxides and suspended particulate matter (SPM) still remains in large urban areas. Environmental quality standards have not been satisfactorily attained. Of the various problems arising from SPM, health hazards caused by particles released in diesel exhaust are of particular concern. In order to deal with such concerns, the following measures shall be promoted.

3.1. Nitrogen Oxides

Comprehensive measures shall be implemented to reduce emissions from mobile sources, such as automobiles, and from stationary sources, such as factories and the work-place.

3.1.a. Automobiles

Regarding automobiles, the Government shall implement exhaust emission control measures, aiming at achieving as promptly as possible the long-term targets of exhaust emission control, recommended by the Central Council for Environmental Pollution Control in 1989. Together with local governments and businesses, the Government shall take the lead in introducing and promoting the use of low-emission vehicles as well as supporting fuel supply maintenance facilities, as technology makes them feasible.

In areas designated by the Law Concerning Specific Measures for Total Emission Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides from Automobiles in Specific Areas, to achieve to objectives of the Basic Policy to for Nitrogen Oxides Reduction and the Nitrogen Oxide Reduction Plans, the following measures, in addition to the preceding ones, shall be promoted.


The target for achieving environmental quality standards for nitrogen dioxide

The Basic Policy for Nitrogen Oxides Reduction (January 1993) and the Nitrogen Oxide Reduction Plans (November 1993) set the target of nearly achieving the environmental quality standard for nitrogen dioxide by the year 2000. in the designated areas.


The targets concerning the curtailment of the aggregate nitrogen oxides burden

The Nitrogen Oxide Reduction Plans set the target value of total amount reduction of automobile emitted nitrogen oxides in each designated area.

Regulations shall be placed on certain automobile types and their influx prevented.
The increased use of cars that produce less pollution will be promoted to reach the goal set in the Nitrogen Oxides Reduction Plans.
Joint and bulk cargo transport and a shift to mass transit systems, such as railways and ships, shall be actively promoted in medium to long distance transport between major ports. Also, the development and improvement of port facilities shall be promoted.
The maintenance of public transportation and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists shall be promoted.
To relieve congestion, bypass and loop maintenance, intersection and crossing improvements, effective enforcement of traffic regulations, parking measures, traffic control system improvements and traffic information systems shall be promoted.
Soil, plants and other biological pollution filters shall be promoted as first stage decontamination systems.
Guidance on appropriate and practical automobile use shall be promoted.
With appropriate enforcement of the Nitrogen Oxides Reduction Plan, in an effort to continue reducing nitrogen oxides, surveys and examinations shall be promoted.


The target of increasing low-emission vehicles

The Nitrogen Oxides Reduction Plans set the target that 300,000 low-emission vehicles should be introduced in the designated areas by the year 2000.

3.1.b. Stationary Sources

Emission control measures for stationary sources shall be appropriately enforced.

3.1.c. Others

Appropriate measures for minor sources, such as construction equipment, shall be enforced. Methods to reduce gas emissions from ships shall be examined. Moreover, the maintenance of green buffer zones, shall be promoted.

3.2. Airborne Particles
3.2.a. Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM)

Regarding SPM, restrictions on automobile exhaust and emissions from factories and other business facilities shall continue to be implemented. Since pollution continues to spread over vast areas, investigations shall be promoted on pollution mechanisms, including those on secondary particle formation processes. As necessary, comprehensive measures designed for distinct metropolitan areas shall be implemented.

3.2.b. Diesel Exhaust Particles (DEP)

Regarding DEP, one of the components of SPM, the Government shall implement exhaust emission control measures, aiming at achieving as promptly as possible the long-term targets of exhaust emission control, recommended by the Central Council for Environmental Pollution Control in 1989. Simultaneous research into related health effects shall be promoted.

The previously mentioned measures aimed at nitrogen oxides also contribute to reduce DEP through regulation to diesel cars and reduction of automobile traffic.

3.2.c. Measures for Dust From Studded Tires

In snowy or frozen places, dust from spiked tires is a problem. To prevent this problem, regulations shall be implemented. Also, measures for winter road maintenance and the development of spike substitutes shall be actively promoted.

3.2.d. Sulfur Oxides

Measures to reduce atmospheric contaminants, like sulfurous oxides, shall continue to be implemented.

4. Measures on Toxic Substances

According to general data regarding the monitoring of atmospheric, concentrations of toxic substances in the environment, such as organic chlorine compounds, have yet to reach dangerous levels. Some fear, however, that these toxic substances could eventually create health hazards. The Government shall promote systematic measures such as increased monitoring and the cultivation of information on the effects and sources of such potentially hazardous substances.

5. Improving the Living Environment

Nuisances like noise, vibrations and offensive odors, things that affect human senses, need to be reduced to ensure a comfortable and healthy living environment. Although the number of complaints regarding these problems has been decreasing, they still make up a relatively large portion of total complaints. Their sources are many and increasing.

The government has so far been unable to gain satisfactory results in its effort to attain certain noise standards in the transportation sector and new problems, like that of ultra-violet rays, are arising. The government will promote the following measures to fight these problems.

5.1. Noise and Vibration Control

The government shall promote the following measures to prevent noise and vibration pollution.

5.1.a. Automobile Traffic

The Government shall promote comprehensive measures to decrease noise pollution from traffic and other sources. These include regulation of noise from individual automobiles and measures to ease the flow of traffic, such as, the development of bypasses and loops. Likewise, noise proof walls and the establishment green buffers shall be promoted. It will examine measures on appropriate roadside zoning laws and will implement measures to decrease automobile vibrations.

5.1.b. Shinkansen and Airplanes

The government shall promote measures to prevent noise and vibration pollution from shinkansens and noise pollution from airplanes. These include measures to stop noise at the source, measures to implement zoning laws and to employ sound-proofing techniques.

5.1.c. Railways

The government shall promote measures to prevent conventional railway noise and vibration pollution. These include examining the possible use of sound indicators.

5.1.d. Factories and Construction Site

The government shall promote measures to prevent noise and vibrations from factories, the work-place and construction sites. Regulations to control noise and vibration pollution at the source, technology developments and zoning laws supporting relocation shall be promoted.

5.1.e. Residential

The government shall promote measures to prevent residential noise pollution, such as the disbursement of educational materials.

5.2. Offensive Odor

The government shall promote zoning laws supporting relocation, emission regulations and the disbursement of educational materials.

5.3. Other

The government shall promote the continued implementation of anti-dust measures. It shall simultaneously promote investigations into the burdening effects of a thinning atmosphere and ultra-violet rays.

6. Establishing a System for Monitoring the Atmosphere

The establishment of an effective atmospheric monitoring system is necessary to implement adequate measures for atmospheric conservation. It shall be implemented in cooperation with local governments and shall be employed to monitor both regional and global problems, their character and their expansion. Ocean based and space based monitoring systems shall be utilized and ultimately, a systematic monitoring procedures shall be established.

Additionally, employing the help of local residents in this effort shall be considered.

Page top↑

Section 2. Conserving the Water Environment

Water circulates in the nature in the form of evaporation, precipitation, seepage, standing, downstream flowing and flushing into the sea. In such process, water purifies itself of pollutants. On the other hand, water is utilized and recycled in many ways through various socioeconomic activities, which impose burdens on the water environment at each stage of utilization.

Therefore, it is important to limit burdens on the water environment within the nature's capacity of purification in the process of water circulation. Considerations must also be made on the burdens on the water environment through atmosphere and soil, and on the effects on the atmospheric environment or ecosystem through the deterioration of the water environment. To address these problems, we must take an integrated view of conserving the quality and quantity of water, aquatic creatures and waterside areas. In these regards, policies shall be promoted to reduce burdens on the water environment at every stage of water utilization, to protect aquatic ecosystems, and to secure environmental safety.

1. Environmentally Sound Water Circulation

Natural circulation of water has changed for a number of reasons. The depopulation and progressive aging of rural communities has created difficulties in maintaining rural forests and farmlands while urbanization has prevented seeping, causing springs to run dry. Water is, likewise, being burdened at each stage of utilization. The following measures shall be promoted to address these problems.

1.1. Achieving the Environmental Quality Standards and Other Targets

In order to reduce burdens on water resources at each stage of water utilization, bearing in mind that water utilization and circulation must go hand in hand, scientific knowledge shall be cultivated and aggressively applied. Environmental target standards to ensure human health and mankind's living environment shall be formulated and measures shall be promoted to achieve and maintain these targets. Regular revisions of environmental quality standards to protect mankind's living environment shall be promoted since changes in certain aquatic regions' utilization targets and circumstances may occur after having their classifications set. More extensive investigations shall be promoted for environmental target standards which focus on their impact on aquatic life.


Environmental quality standards on water quality

(based on the Basic Environmental Law ):

Environmental quality standards have been set for the following water contaminants in order to protect human health:

Cadmium, total cyanide, lead, hexavalent chromium, arsenic, total mercury, alkyl mercury, PCBs, dichloromethane, tetrachloromethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, 1,1-dichloroethylene, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,1,2-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, 1,3-dichloropropene, thiuram, simazine, thiobencarb, benzene and selenium. Environmental quality standards have been set for the following water contaminants to conserve mankind's living environment:

Rivers and Streams:
hydrogen-ion density, the amount of biochemical oxygen demand, floating substances, dissolved oxygen and coliforum bacillus groups.
Lakes and Marshes:
hydrogen-ion density, the amount of chemical oxygen demand, floating substances, dissolved oxygen, coliforum bacillus groups, nitrogen and phosphorus.
hydrogen-ion density, the amount of chemical oxygen demand, dissolved oxygen, coliforum bacillus groups, extracted substances in normal hexane, nitrogen and phosphorus.

1.2. Restoring and Maintaining Sound Water Circulation

It is necessary to restore and maintain soundly functioning water circulation. Therefore, proper maintenance management activities shall be promoted, like tending and cultivating forests which play an important role in water purification or managing agricultural lands, like rice fields which act as water reserves and recharge ground water.

The conservation of water quality, quantity, aquatic life and the aquatic environment shall be promoted to restore and maintain the natural purification ability of lakes, rivers, streams and marshes. To ensure sound water circulation in metropolitan areas, utilization of sewer refuse, vegetation, permeable pavement and the establishment of seeping measures for rainwater shall be promoted. Conservation shall be promoted in coastal waters, natural coastlines, tidal flats, seaweed beds and shallow water areas. Moreover, the development of artificial tidal flats and beaches, which also aid in water purification, shall be promoted.

1.3. Measures in Accordance with Specific Regional Characteristics

To ensure the sound circulation of water, measures shall be promoted which are adapted for the particular characteristics of the region. With the cooperation of local communities and businesses, universal methods for evaluating water quality, quantity, aquatic life and other aquatic environments shall be studied.

1.4. Fair Burden Sharing

Measures shall be examined to ensure fair burden sharing between the different sectors of society. The voluntary and active participation of all citizens shall be encouraged and the cooperation between riparian local governments shall be promoted.

2. Reducing Environmental Load at Each Stage of Water Use

Environmental burdens are generated at each stage of water utilization. The government shall promote measures to reduce this burden along with measures to stop pollution before it starts.

2.1. Types of Environmental Burdens and Their Reduction

The following measures shall be promoted to reduce environmental burdens, depending on the type of environmental burdens generated.

Regulations on proper waste water disposal shall be promoted for factories and other business enterprises. They shall be encouraged to incorporate water recirculation systems into their production processes. Buildings, in general, will also be encouraged to employ water recirculation systems and to utilize rain water.
As for domestic waste water, improved sewage systems shall be promoted and depending on the location, agricultural community sewage treatment facilities and/or combined treatment septic tanks shall be encouraged. Special plans shall be formulated for areas of particular domestic waste water concern. At the same time, information about ways to reduce domestically produced pollution (e.g. from the kitchen) will be disseminated.
Measures to clarify the actual burden caused by indiscreet pollution sources in urban and agricultural areas shall be researched. The development and dissemination of technology to handle urban and agricultural waste water shall be promoted.
2.2. Developing and Disseminating Technology for Water Conservation

Advanced sewage treatment system technology shall be developed and disseminated. Waste water treatment technology for small scale factories shall be simultaneously developed, as will advanced technology for combined treatment septic tanks. These shall be promoted to reduce the environmental burden caused domestically and by small scale factories which are not currently the target of any waste water control policies.

2.3. Ensuring the Safety of Water Environment

The following measures shall be promoted to ensure safe water.

To reduce the burdens on water resources, chemical substances that may have adverse effects on human or aquatic organisms shall be properly managed by introducing production processes that reduce discharges of those substances and by improving utilization methods of such chemicals. At the same time, regulations on toxic substance discharges, underground infiltration and agricultural chemicals shall be more properly implemented. Proper waste disposal shall be ensured and anti-accident measures formulated.
Trihalomethanes can be formed, for example, when chlorine empties into water purification plants. Discharging trihalomethane forming substances by industrial or domestic sources, shall be regulated. Similarly, measures shall be introduced at water purification plants and for rivers and streams.
Concerning underground water contamination by toxic substances, measures to increase methods of clarifying the contaminating mechanism and purification technologies shall be implemented.
Research shall be promoted to clarify the cause and effect of underground water contamination by nitrate nitrogen. Potential measures compatible with the special characteristics of the region and/or source shall be studied.
Measures shall be implemented to remove toxic substances from the ocean floor.

3. Conserving the Environment in Closed Water System

Levels of organic pollution in lakes, marshes, inland seas, inner bays, rivers and streams in urban areas and other closed bodies of water have stabilized and, in some areas, have shown improvement. However, compared to other bodies of water, the improvements have been rather unsuccessful. Therefore, the following measures shall be promoted.

A. Accumulation problems

Closed water and urban river and stream areas, areas where pollution and contaminants tend to accumulate, shall be comprehensively investigated and appropriate measures shall be promoted.

B. Improving sources of tap water and river quality

To improve the quality of tap water sources and seriously polluted urban rivers and streams, discharge regulations and sewage improvements shall be promoted. Facilities shall be established to treat domestic waste water and measures shall be implemented to ensure water quality and quantity in rivers and streams.

C. Specific measures

Measures shall be promoted for places of particular concern, such as lake Biwa, Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay and the Seto Inland Sea. These measures shall be based on the Lake and Marsh Water Quality Conservation Plan and the Total Pollution Reduction Plan. These measures shall be promoted in coordination with domestic discharge measures.


Water quality targets for lakes

For designated lakes under the Law Concerning Special Measures for Lake Water Quality Conservation, the Lake Water Quality Conservation Plans set water quality targets to be achieved in five year period, foreseeing the achievement of environmental quality standard.


Water pollutant reduction targets for inland seas

Basic Plan for Total Water Pollutant Reduction (January 1991) and the Total Pollution Reduction Plans (March 1991) set targets of reduction of water pollutants in terms of chemical oxygen demand to be achieved by 1994 for Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay and Seto Inland Sea.

D. Eutrophication

Environmental water standards for nitrogen and phosphorous shall be promoted for lakes, marshes and ocean region to prevent eutrophication. The establishment of domestic waste water treatment facilities for sewers and sewage in targeted water areas shall also be promoted. Regulations shall be implemented for waste water and water quality shall be improved.

E. Organic sludge

Organic sludge accumulation cleanup measures, such as dredging, shall be implemented in rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, ports and other water areas.

4. Conserving the Marine Environment

Although the number of reported oil spills has been decreasing, waste being dumped into the ocean has continued unabatedly. In an attempt to stop such pollution, the following measures shall be promoted.

A. From land

Investigative surveys shall be performed to better understand the total burden being imposed on the ocean from land (e.g. discharged by rivers). Appropriate measures shall be introduced.

B. From ships

Appropriate measures shall be introduced to restrict oil, toxic liquids and other waste dumping from ships.

C. From tankers

Preventative measures shall be promoted to protect against oil spills. Preparations shall be made to handle them if they do occur and measures for an oil compensation security system shall be promoted.

D. Investigations

Ways to decrease the amount of gas discharged by ships shall be investigated.

E. Studies

Measures to prevent pollution caused by activities on the ocean floor shall be studied.

F. Other

The development of new technologies and research shall be promoted to combat floating waste, massive oil spills and the use of inorganic tin coatings on the bottom of ships' hulls.

5. Establishing a System for Monitoring the Water Environment

An effective monitoring system must be established to implement proper conservation measures and to fully understand the state of the water environment. The following measures shall be promoted.

Systems shall be established by the government to effectively carry out environmental quality standards monitoring for designated items. The results of these monitoring activities, which will require the cooperation of related ministries, agencies and local governments, shall be used to formulate and implement a water quality evaluation plan.
Comprehensive measures for evaluating the water environment using biological indicators shall be established and surveys shall be conducted with the cooperation of local residents.
Comprehensive surveys and monitoring shall be conducted to check the regional expansion of ground water pollution.
Comprehensive evaluations and surveys shall be conducted to conserve the ocean environment.

Page top↑

Section 3. Conserving the Soil and Ground Environment

The soil environment is crucial for water purification, food and timber production, etc. It plays a key role in ecosystem maintenance and nature's restoration process. It must, therefore, be conserved.

In addition, the Government shall promote measures to conserve the ground environment, through preventing ground subsidence and maintaining environmentally sound underground water circulation.

1. The Safety of the Soil Environment

Although pollution prevention measures have seen steady progress in agricultural areas, there have been an increasing number of pollution cases identified by underground water surveys and factory site redevelopment projects.

To solve these problems, scientific knowledge on the impact of contaminated soil on human health and the ecosystem shall be accumulated and environmental quality standards shall be set taking into consideration the relationship between different environmental media. To maintain sound soil and to restore contaminated soil, the following measures shall be implemented, with special attention to the movement of pollutants between it, water and air.

Regulations shall be properly implemented on the discharge of toxic substances, smoke and on agricultural chemicals.
Measures to prevent pollution from mining activities shall be promoted.
Investigations and surveys on the contamination of urban and agricultural areas shall be instituted.
Considering the extent and range of contamination and its impact on surrounding nature, efforts shall be made to improve soil that does not meet the environmental quality standards so that these standards are attained. For this, the Government shall promote measures for soil contamination in agricultural areas. Regarding contamination in urban areas, the Government shall promote development of technologies for environmental remediation and other measures.


Environmental quality standards for soil pollution

(based on the Basic Environment Law)

The Government has set environmental quality standards for the following soil contaminants:

Cadmium, total cyanide, organic phosphorus, lead, hexavalent chromium, arsenic, total mercury, alkyl mercury, PCBs, copper, dichloromethane, tetrachloromethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, 1,1-dichloroethylene, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,1,2-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, 1.3-dichloropropene, thiuram, simazine, thiobencarb, benzene and selenium.

2. Conserving the Ground Environment

The state of ground subsidence, once a grave problem in various parts of the country, have been decreasing in general. Nevertheless, severe ground subsidence still remains to be observed in some districts. Therefore, to conserve the ground environment, the following measures shall be promoted.

Environmentally sound underground water circulation shall be maintained through promoting measures for conserving groundwater, such as the control of groundwater pumping-up which brings about ground subsidence, the securing supply of substitute water in order to reduce the pumping-up of groundwater, the encouragement of rainwater seepage into ground by planting trees, constructing permeable pavements, and installing permeable "cubes".
Research into the cause of falling groundwater levels accompanying underground space utilization shall be promoted. Technology developments shall be encouraged for the prevention of going down of groundwater level among others. Furthermore, measures shall be considered to prevent environmental damage caused by utilization of underground space.
As for areas where severe ground subsidence is observed and areas suffering severely from the effects of ground subsidence, appropriate measures shall be taken to achieve targets such as those established in the Outline of Measures for Preventing Ground Subsidence.
Monitoring surveys shall be implemented to collect precise information, such as the volumes of groundwater pumping-up and the present state of ground subsidence nationwide.


Targets for Ground Subsidence Prevention

The Outline of Measures for Preventing Ground Subsidence (April 1985 for the Nobi Plain and the Chikugo-Saga Plain, November 1991 for the Northern Kanto Plain) establish the target for volumes of groundwater puming-up to be achieved by fiscal year 1994 (2000 for the Northern Kanto Plain)

Page top↑

Section 4. Policies on Waste and Recycling

As socioeconomic activities have developed and become characterized by mass-production, mass-consumption and mass-disposal, the total volume and variety of waste have increased. Land-fill capacity is becoming strained. At each stage of activities from resource extraction to waste disposal, more and more burden on the environment is generated. Therefore, a socioeconomic system which can attain a state of sustainable development must be developed, by enhancing cycling of material within the socioeconomic system.

Policies on waste and recycling shall be promoted along the following direction. First, generation of waste should be reduced. Second, reuse of used products should be promoted. Third, waste should be recycled into raw materials. Where the technological level makes such recycling difficult or not economically feasible, heat recovered from incineration should be used as energy source, taking sufficient measures to prevent adverse environmental effects. Waste that was generated finally should be disposed of in an appropriate manner.

Furthermore, a new socioeconomic system needs to be created where responsibilities and costs on waste and recycling are shared among business, consumers, local governments and the national government as necessary. In such a new system, there should be incentives to reduce waste generation and recycling at each stage of product development, manufacturing, import, distribution, consumption, collection and regeneration.

The government, aiming ultimately at achieving a zero-waste society, shall take appropriate measures to reduce waste and promote recycling. At the same time, studies shall be made on the way to share burden fairly. The government shall also promptly promote studies on targets for waste and recycling policy. These targets shall be established and revised as necessary.

1. Reducing Waste Generation

Apart from promotion of recycling, measures shall be taken to discourage the production and sales of disposable goods and excessive packaging practices, and to encourage consideration in design, manufacturing and distribution of products such as making them more durable. Likewise, people shall be encouraged to reconsider their lifestyle and to refrain from using disposable goods. Economic measures, such as collection of fees in accordance with the volume of household waste, shall be utilized to encourage waste reduction. Other measures include promotion of national campaigns to reduce waste, and the dissemination of information on waste disposal.

As for controlling the generation of toxic waste, consideration in product design and manufacturing shall be promoted.

2. Promoting Recycling

2.1. Reuse

Measures shall be promoted for standardization of containers for easy reuse, facilitation of exchanging and/or selling of used products, etc.

2.2. Collection and Regeneration

To reduce environmental burden, it is necessary to promote the regeneration of resources from waste and the collection and reuse of recyclable resources.

For this purpose, the government shall take measures to encourage producers to make their products easier to recycle, to improve the resource recovery system through separate collection by municipalities an utilization of product distribution network, and to maintain of proper collection system of used paper. To encourage recycling, the government shall consider the introduction of economic measures such as a deposit refund system, and of a system for reclaiming of used product by producers etc. Measures shall be promoted to encourage corporations to achieve the targets on the use of recycled materials and to improve the regeneration capacity taking into account the specific conditions such as development of new usage of recycled materials. The use of recycled products shall be promoted and their markets shall be broadened through promotion and encouragement of increased use of recycled products by the central and local governments, corporations and people, taking into account the fact that recycled products are more expensive compared to products manufactured from virgin materials. Studies on standardization of recycled products shall be promoted. As a foundation to these measures, the government shall promote development and dissemination of recycling technologies along with cooperation and communication between different sectors of industry, as well as promoting public relation activities, national campaigns for recycling, and provision of information.

As for recycling of construction by-product such as gravel, dirt, sludge and scraps, measures such as information exchange shall be promoted, taking a broader geographical view.


Targets on recycling of paper and glass

(The Order of Ministry of International Trade and Industry, October 1991, base on the Utilization of Reclaimed Resources Promotion Act)

Recycled paper utilization
55%(in 1994)
Glass cullet utilization
55%(in 1995)


Targets on recycling of metal cans

(Council for Industrial Structure, Waste Disposal and Resource Reclamation Subcommittee Report, November 1990)

Steel can reclamation
over 60% (in 1995)
Aluminum can reclamation
60% (by the end of 1994)

2.3. Packaging

In order to reduce waste and environmental burdens related to packaging, the government shall consider the introduction of a new system where municipalities undertake separate waste collection and the industry undertakes reclamation and resource regeneration, and take necessary measures. Studies from a broad perspective shall be made about a system including the utilization of economic instruments such as reflecting on the product price the costs needed for reclamation and regeneration.

2.4. Recycling Facilities

Aiming at creating a "zero-waste society" where waste circulates in the socioeconomic system, almost all of the waste disposal shall be changed from the one which only incinerate and bury the waste to the one which promotes recycling as much as possible and utilizes the heat from incineration, in about the beginning of the 21st century.

Technology development shall be promoted for recovering fuel oil from plastics, fusing and solidifying of incinerator ashes, heat utilization and power generation, and production of solid fuel from waste.

2.5. Environmental Consideration in Recycling

The government shall study the effects of recycling on the environment, collect information on toxic substances possibly contained in recycled products, and consider necessary measures.

3. Promoting Proper Waste Disposal

3.1. Disposal Facilities

Landfill sites and intermediate processing facilities shall be developed to promote proper waste disposal including sufficient environmental consideration. For landfill sites, cooperation between local authorities shall be promoted, and especially in large urban areas, measures shall be taken with a broad view across the prefectural borders.

Development of disposal facilities for industrial waste disposal, which is the responsibility of corporations who generate it, shall be promoted involving public sector as necessary.

3.2. Cooperation Between Local Governments and Corporations

Difficulties arising in the disposal of product which have been use must first be evaluated by companies. Then, products which can be easily disposed of must be developed. The availability of information, in this regard, to local governments shall be promoted.

In principle, municipalities are responsible for disposal of household waste. However, several types of products are designated as being difficult to dispose of, such as large refrigerators. In such matters, cooperation of industry to municipalities shall be promoted, such as encouraging the collection of used appliances by retailers and their disposal outside the municipal waste disposal system.

3.3. Environmental Consideration in Waste Disposal

To conserve the environment around landfills, strict monitoring and dumping controls shall be strengthened. Likewise, there shall be strict long-term management after the landfill is closed. Investigative surveys shall be performed as well to enhance their construction and thereby increase their trustworthiness.

To promote proper disposal of toxic waste, the government shall additionally designate types of industrial waste needing special control, strengthen the the governments for landfill, and promote development of appropriate technology for waste disposal. The body of knowledge about environmental impacts of waste disposal shall be increased, including evaluation of toxicity of waste. Management systems, set up to study appropriate methods for waste transport and disposal shall be employed and illegal dumping and disposal shall be prevented (a "manifest system").

When illegal disposal occurs, immediate measures to return the environment to its former state shall be ensured. Maintenance of a framework of measures to prevent litter shall likewise be promoted and necessary education provided.

Page top↑

Section 5. Policies on Environmental Risks of Chemicals

There is no denying the usefulness of chemical substances. However, their production, use and disposal can have harmful effects on both the ecosystem and on human health. There is little known about the harmful effects of many of these chemical substances. The environmental impact of the substances which are generated through reaction in the environment and combustion of Chemical substances must also be considered.

Potentially harmful effects on human health and the ecosystem from the production, utilization and/or disposal of chemical substances must be prevented before they occur. To prevent these harmful effects and to ensure a safer environment, various measures shall be taken such as evaluating the environmental risks and comprehensively reducing those risks.

1. Evaluating Environmental Risks

Environmental risks on human health and the ecosystem resulting from the production, use and/or disposal of potentially toxic chemicals must be evaluated in cooperation with international environmental risk evaluation and risk management programs. The Government shall take measures for proper risk assessment, to improve our knowledge on environmental risks of chemical substances, such as characteristics of the substance (e.g. health impact, ecological impact, decomposition, accumulation), fate and behavior (e.g. emissions, movement between environmental media, reactions, biological metabolism), environmental concentrations, extent of human exposure, etc. The measures also include appropriate provision of information on the environmental risks, and studies on more effective and comprehensive risk estimations and administration procedures. Studies shall also be made for understanding environmental risks through different environmental media such as air and water, and on compound effect of different chemicals. The result of these studies shall be used for policy implementation.

2. Reducing Environmental Risks

To reduce the environmental risks in producing, using and disposing of these types of chemicals, the government shall implement measures to restrict their discharge into the atmosphere, water or land. In accordance with the level of toxicity, their manufacture and use shall be controlled. Substitute technologies and products shall be developed and disseminated. Measures for their appropriate collection and disposal shall also be implemented.

Page top↑

Section 6. Environmental Consideration in Technological Development etc.

As new technologies are developed and utilized, there is a possibility of new impacts on the environment. When it is foreseeable that the use of certain technologies may be burdening to the environment, environmental aspects of this new technology shall be thoroughly examined from the phase of technology development. Appropriate measures must be implemented, with the ultimate goal of preventing these problems before they occur. The fruits of high technologies shall be affirmatively applied to environmental conservation.

When its is feared that environmental problems other than those mentioned above will occur as a result of environmental loadings of human activities, the government shall make efforts to take precautionary action to prevent such problems, together with the continuous efforts to improve our scientific knowledge.

Page top