Environmental Policy

The Basic Environment Plan - Part III-Chapter 4

PART III. FUTURE POLICY ON ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
Chapter 4. Measures Forming the Basis of Environmental Policy

  • preface
  • Section 1.Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
    • 1. Environmental consideration for government policies
    • 2. Environmental consideration at planning stage of public works
    • 3. Promoting EIAs for projects
    • 4. Promoting systematic research on EIA
  • Section 2. Regulatory Measures
  • Section 3.Economic Measures
    • 1. Economic assistance
    • 2. Economic burden
  • Section 4. Environmental Infrastructure Improvement
  • Section 5.Scientific Research, Monitoring/Observation and Environmental Technology
    • 1.Monitoring, observation and research
      • 1.1. Research
      • 1.2. Observation and monitoring
      • 1.3. Global and transboundary problems
      • 1.4. Systematic control and organization
      • 1.5. Comprehensive implementation systems
    • 2.Promoting Technology
      • 2.1. Technology supporting environmental conservation efforts
      • 2.2. Developing and dispersing technology
    • 3.Laying the foundation
      • 3.1. Providing facilities
      • 3.2. Improving measuring technology
      • 3.3. Academic research, human resource development etc.
      • 3.4. Cooperation with private sector
    • 4Local governments and private organizations
      • 4.1. Exchange and participation
      • 4.2. Technological assistance
    • 5. Disseminating results
  • Section 6.Providing and Maintaining Environmental Information
    • 1. Establishing an information system
    • 2.Provision of information
      • 2.1. Document and other forms of information
      • 2.2. Information access system
      • 2.3. Environmental Information Centers
    • 3.Establishing an environmental analysis system
      • 3.1. Analysis system
      • 3.2. Environmental statistics
    • 4.Laying the foundation
      • 4.1. Establishing facilities
      • 4.2. Human resource training
    • 5.Supporting local governments and private organizations
      • 5.1. Regional bases
      • 5.2. Information networking
  • Section 7.Regional Pollution Abatement Programs
    • 1. Plan formulation
    • 2. Plan implementation
  • Section 8.Environmental Health, Pollution Disputes, etc.
    • 1.Relief and prevention of pollution-related health damages
    • 2.Pollution-related dispute resolution
      • 2.1. Dispute resolution
      • 2.2. Handling complaints
      • 2.3. Measures on crimes against the environment

OTHER CHAPTER

  • Chapter 1. Building a Socioeconomic System Fostering Environmentally Sound Material Cycle
  • Chapter 2. Harmonious Coexistence Between Nature and Humankind
  • Chapter 3. Participation by All Sectors of Society Sharing Fair Burden
  • Chapter 5. Promoting International Activities

(preface)

Several policy instruments which have been mentioned in previous chapters can serve the long-term objectives at one time. These include environmental impact assessment (EIA), regulatory measures, economic measures, providing environmental infrastructure and promoting scientific research, monitoring, observation and environmental technology, and environmental information. These instruments shall be utilized in appropriate policy-mix approach, depending on the types of problem. This chapter presents the basic ideas that guide the implementation of these measures.

Furthermore, this chapter also presents the basic ideas that direct such policy instruments as regional pollution abatement programs, environmental health measures and pollution dispute resolutions.

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Section 1. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

In order to comprehensively conserve the environment, it is essential that precautionary environmental consideration is made in formulation and implementation of policy measures and projects. This concept is widely recognized and firmly established both domestically and internationally.

To further environmental considerations such as implementation of environmental impact assessment, the following measures shall be enhanced.

1. Environmental Consideration for Government Policies

With a view to prevent environmental problems, environmental conservation shall be taken into account when formulating and implementing government policies which may affect the environment, conducting studies on environmental implications as needed.

2. Environmental Consideration at Planning Stage of Public Works

Environmental consideration shall begin at the planning stage of public works for providing infrastructure undertaken by the Government. This includes survey and prediction of environmental impact of the project.

3. Promoting EIAs for Projects

The Government is already promoting adequate EIAs for several types of large scale construction projects having significant environmental impact. EIAs are carried out based on the Cabinet approved EIA Implementation Guidelines (1984) and several laws. The Government shall continue to make effort for implementing these EIA procedures. Local governments are also promoting EIAs based on their own ordinances and guidelines as regional realities dictate.

4 Promoting Systematic Research on EIA

In order to ensure proper environmental considerations, the Government shall enhance further research on schemes and methodology of such considerations. Particularly for future EIA systems, relevant ministries and agencies are jointly conducting a comprehensive research on various EIA systems and state of their implementation both in Japan and abroad, taking into account the accumulation of domestic EIA experiences and increasing recognition of the importance of EIA. Base on the result of this research, the Government shall make necessary reconsideration of the institutional framework of EIA, possibly including future legislation.

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Section 2. Regulatory Measures

Among environmental policy tools, various regulatory measures have long been effective in controlling pollution and other interference with environmental conservation. Regulatory measures can also appropriately ensure that the environmental costs are incorporated in the market mechanism. Thus, the current regulatory measures are to be implemented properly and those measures shall continue to be applied in the future, taking account of characteristics of a particular problem, effectiveness and impact of the measures, and so on.

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Section 3. Economic Measures

Japan has achieved much progress, compared to other developed countries, in conserving resources and energy particularly in industry since the oil crisis. However, prevailing patterns of mass-production, consumption and discharge in socioeconomic activities, together with continuing concentration of population and economic activities in urban areas, have led to such environmental problems as urban/household-generated pollution, increasing waste and global warming, which require further measures aimed at solving these problems.

These problems are caused by wide-ranging socioeconomic activities including daily business activities and lifestyles. It is pointed out the fundamental reason underlying is that the social cost of environmental load arising from these activities has not been well understood and the measures have been lagging behind, therefore the cost has not been incorporated in market mechanism. These activities have been continued externalizing these social costs. Regarding these problems, it is required to appropriately implement regulatory measures, economic measures and others so as to ensure that each member of society acts in an environmentally friendly manner.

Various economic measures, such as environmental taxes, surcharges, and deposit-refund systems which aim to properly reflect environmental costs in the price of goods and service transactions, are expected to efficiently reduce environmental load generated by numerous daily activities, and considered also to contribute to efficient distribution of resources. These measures have been recommended internationally by the OECD, the G-7 Summit and the UNCED, and are implemented in various examples in European countries and the U.S. Japan must also promote studies and investigations into these measures and participate in the international discussion at the OECD and other fora, with a view to resolve aforementioned environmental problems.

Economic measures include economic burden and assistance, both of which aim to ensure each party in the economy to take actions for environmental conservation through using economic incentives.

1. Economic assistance

Economic assistance is a measure to effectively promote investments in facilities and other improvements to reduce environmental load by the party who is responsible for activities generating those load, such as pollution control investments to promptly attain improvement of the environment within a limited period. In providing economic assistance, necessary and appropriate measures shall be implemented in consideration of economic conditions of recipients and that the financial outlay is ultimately the burden of Japanese people, as well as based on Polluter Pays Principle of the OECD which urges not to create any major distortions in international trade and investment

2. Economic burden

Economic measures placing economic burden are, in effect, requiring those parties who are conducting activities generating environmental load to bear new burden which has not been paid before. In order to make decision on economic measures to be implemented, studies and investigations shall be appropriately promoted as to their effectiveness for environmental conservation, impacts on the national economy and so on, in consideration of the fields to be applied such as controlling carbon dioxide emissions to prevent global warming, measures for urban/household-generated pollution, or reducing waste. The understanding and cooperation of the people will be sought when introducing the economic measures. Where those measures are concerning protection of the global environment, considerations will be made to international cooperation so as to properly ensure the effectiveness.

Along with the investigation into measures of economic burden, further investigations shall be promoted concerning policy options such as utilizing regulatory and other policy measures, effectively incorporating those other measures together with measures of economic burden.

Regarding economic measures to reduce the generation of waste and promote recycling, waste reduction shall be ensured through requiring appropriate economic burden such as imposing collection charges on household waste in proportion to the amount of waste. As well, extensive investigations shall be carried out as to utilizing economic measures such as deposit-refund system, with a view to develop a scheme which will clarify the responsibilities of waste generators and ensure that cost of proper waste disposal and recycling is appropriately shared in society.

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Section 4. Environmental Infrastructure Improvement

To maintain healthy and productive environment and create a society ensuring sustainable development with reduced environmental load, it is necessary not only the efforts of corporations and people for reducing their environmental loads but also promotion of environmental infrastructure improvement. Of course, project plans should be examined to assess possible environmental impacts and conservation measures based upon the result must be implemented. Since Japanese population is predicted to continue aging, the capital reserves are expected to continue to fall. It is therefore essential that these infrastructure should be intensively improved in limited time frame.

The public works of facilities in the Plan that will reduce environmental loads based on various endowment programs will be implemented. Likewise, this Plan allows for projects to maintain and ensure the proper utilization of the natural environment. In financing these projects, the Guideline for Estimation of the Budget for Environmental Conservation should fully be considered. The projects should be undertaken comprehensively and intensively with measures for effective utilization of the facilities. In this case, the effectiveness of the projects will need to be evaluated.

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Section 5. Scientific Research, Monitoring/Observation and Environmental Technology

It is essential to carry out research, observations and monitoring to more clearly understand the state of the environment, to elucidate the mechanisms of environmental change and to make educated decisions about conservation policies. In particular, to solve complex global problems, an exorbitant amount of scientific knowledge will need to be gathered.

To achieve an environmentally healthy and friendly society, technology must be developed. This newly developed technology must then be increasingly employed and dispersed.

To contribute to the international society, Japan must strengthen research , observations and monitoring, develop appropriate technologies, and provide facilities necessary for these scientific and technological activities. and establish technological facilities. Efforts of local governments and private organizations in this endeavor shall be supported.

1. Monitoring, Observation and Research

1.1. Research

Research into the following issues which fall within broad fields of natural, social and cultural science, shall be promoted, from a global perspective. Interministerial cooperation shall be sought as necessary, considering that many of these issues are overlapping.

A.
comprehensive monitoring of environmental loadings such as greenhouse gases and waste generation, and of socioeconomic activities that cause such loadings
B.
understanding the mechanism of environmental changes and predicting their impacts
C.
ensuring biodiversity
D.
clarifying and evaluating long-term, compounding, environmental risks of human activities through different environmental media such as air and water
E.
establishing an integrated national environmental and economic accounting system and further understanding the interrelationship between the environment and economy
F.
international trends in environmental policy and their effectiveness
G.
decision making under the uncertainty of environmental change
H.
Issues related to each of the topics in Part III .
1.2. Observation and Monitoring

Observation and monitoring should be carefully employed, based on individual laws. The entire planning process for observation and monitoring (i.e. from formulation, implementation, structuring, analysis and evaluation, to publication of final results) must be worked out in detail. Likewise, an implementation system for observation and monitoring must be established to ensure correspondence between changes in environmental problems and implementation.

1.3. Global and Transboundary Problems

Regarding research, observation and monitoring of problems affecting wide areas, such as acid deposition and marine pollution, efforts should be made to better understand broad advection and diffusion of substances and their impacts on ecosystems. Furthermore, efforts should be made to expand scientific knowledge on material circulation between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere. Such knowledge will lead to a better understanding of global problems and its impacts on the ecosystem.

1.4. Systematic Control and Organization

Research, observation and monitoring implemented by, or connected with, the government shall be systematically overseen and organized. The government shall likewise do its best to oversee research instituted by local governments and private sectors. Furthermore, cooperation between related research, observation and monitoring shall be promoted by establishing liaison meetings, as circumstances require.

1.5. Comprehensive Implementation Systems

In fields related to global environmental conservation, where systematic efforts are necessary, comprehensive programs shall be formulated to secure well-organized implementation of research, observation and monitoring.

2. Promoting Technology

2.1. Technology Supporting Environmental Conservation Efforts

Technologies related to environmental conservation targets should be widely promoted. Appropriate technologies shall be selected by considering both their effectiveness in curing particular problems and their adverse side-effects. Technological systems which support environmental conservation efforts shall be secured.

2.2. Developing and Dispersing Technology

Energy and resource conserving technology, closed material circulation production technology, pollution cleanup technology, waste disposal and recycling technology, environmental maintenance technology and technology to construct aesthetically pleasing facilities must be developed and dispersed. The technologies mentioned in section III, remote sensing technology employed by satellites and technology appropriate to developing regions must be developed. Not only must equipment and hardware technology be developed, but also, effective know-how, or 'soft' technology must be developed. After applying a certain technology, its effectiveness in improving the environment shall be evaluated and measures shall be implemented according to the results.

3. Laying the Foundation

3.1. Providing Facilities

Necessary equipment and facilities shall be provided to carry out research, observations and monitoring.

3.2. Improving Measuring Technology

Credibility and accuracy in survey and measuring shall be improved. In particular, telemetering (the transmitting of results produced by an electrical measuring apparatus to a distant station) and remote sensing technologies need to be advanced. Also, planes, ships and satellites shall be provided.

3.3. Academic Research, Human Resource Development etc.

Academic research of cultural, social and natural sciences shall be promoted at universities and other institutions in fields related to environmental conservation. In cooperation with these institutions, efforts shall be made to improve the quality and quantity of human resources engaged in enhancement of research, observation and monitoring, and development of appropriate technologies. Likewise, cooperation including human resource exchange shall be promoted, and information shall be shared among different institutions.

3.4. Cooperation with Private Sector

The utilization of civilian ingenuity shall be encouraged to promote advances in technology .

4. Local Governments and Private Organizations

4.1. Exchange and Participation

Assistance shall be provided to local governments, non-profit organizations, universities and private organizations, for the purpose of furthering research, observation, monitoring and technology development. This assistance will come in the form of information exchanges, human resource exchanges, and as necessary, in the form of joint research and joint utilization of equipment/supplies.

Scientific information provided by private organizations and the general public is extremely valuable. Their participation in research, observation and monitoring activities shall be promoted. The Government shall make efforts to develop and disperse surveying and measuring methodologies and procedures which facilitate such participation.

4.2. Technological Assistance

Technological support, concerning proper measurement implementation by companies, shall be promoted. Support shall also be given to improve the accuracy of investigations and measurements of private organization. To accomplish this, information shall be provided and official qualifications for environmental technicians shall be established.

5. Disseminating Results

The results of research, observation and monitoring activities shall be officially disseminated to the general public. Impediments in communication must be examined to construct a system which can easily disseminates major breakthroughs in environmental technology. Information transfer and communication systems shall be established, and with the government taking the lead, necessary measures to provide economic incentives for disseminating information shall be applied.

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Section 6. Providing and Maintaining Environmental Information

To promote environmental conservation measures, environmental information must be systematically maintained and utilized. It is essential that information be accurately provided to advance environmental education and learning and to encourage voluntary actions by companies, citizens and private organizations. Furthermore, the information must be offered fairly to each member and sector of society.

The rights of both individuals and legal entities shall be considered in regard to provisions and maintenance of information. Utmost efforts shall be made to ensure that information is efficiently provided and easily accessible.

1. Establishing an Information System

The state of the environment, burden levels, forecasts and conservation efforts are some of the types of information needed to secure the goal of this Plan. How to make this information available and easily accessible shall be studied. The institution of highly organized databases to aid in the complex task of gathering, sorting and processing new data shall be promoted. In this way, discovering where information is, and how to access it shall be simplified. The establishment of these databases shall be based upon the results of the information accessibility study.

The government shall promote the establishment of an environmental information broadcasting network. It will, likewise, study how to create a format in which information from a wide variety of sources, gathered by local governments and private individuals could be made easily available, culminating in a completely integrated environmental information database.

2. Provision of Information

2.1. Document and Other Forms of Information

The government shall provide information to the general public through publications like the White Paper in the Environment and the Environmental Information Handbook. In addition to publications, magnetic media and other news transmission systems shall be utilized.

2.2. Information Access System

A system shall be established to promptly respond to inquiries made by citizens. The possibility of establishing a comprehensive environmental information database and information supply system that networks local governments and non-profit organizations shall be examined.

2.3. Environmental Information Centers

In order to provide information covering various fields, the feasibility of establishing environmental information centers, biological diversity centers and national park visitor centers shall be examined.

3. Establishing an Environmental Analysis system

3.1. Analysis System

The establishment of a system to evaluate the effectiveness of measures, forecasts and analyses on the state of the environment shall be examined. An integrated environmental information database shall be employed in this endeavor.

3.2. Environmental Statistics

The establishment of environmental statistics, incorporating the results of research on an integrated environmental-economic tracking system shall be examined.

4. Laying the Foundation

4.1. Establishing Facilities

The necessary facilities and equipment for providing information shall be established. This includes establishing an information network.

4.2. Human Resource Training

Efforts shall be made to improve the quality and quantity of human resources for environmental information management. Strong ties with educational institutions shall also be maintained.

5. Supporting Local Governments and Private Organizations

5.1. Regional Bases

The establishment of regional information bases to promote the integration of information from local governments in an organized manner shall be promoted.

5.2. Information Networking

Support shall be lent to promote the integration of information obtained as a result of private organization's voluntary activities. Networking between the national and local governments and private organizations shall be supported.

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Section 7. Regional Pollution Abatement Programs

Regional pollution abatement programs shall be formulated for designated areas where the effects of pollution are currently severe in coordination with other policies.

1. Plan Formulation

Fundamental policy measures based on this Plan shall be formulated. The following factors shall be considered when formulating these measures.

A.
To achieve and maintain regional environmental quality standards, controls must be applied and broad measures designed. In this way, burdens generated in the course of business activities and the daily activities of citizens shall be reduced.
B.
Means shall be provided so that every sector of society can work together actively to conserve the environment and to ensure that the burden of this endeavor is fairly spread.
C.
Conservation of the natural and global environment shall be given utmost consideration.
D.
Priority actions shall be set up for air pollution caused by nitrogen oxides, water pollution and ground water contamination from domestic waste water.
F.
In metropolitan areas, trans-regional approaches shall be promoted. Neighboring districts shall formulate plans dealing with environmental problems in coordination with one another.
G.
Environmental conservation shall be integrated with other legal programs dealing with conservation.

2. Plan Implementation

Measures mentioned in the Basic Environment Plan shall be comprehensively and systematically promoted and they shall be carefully coordinated with one another.

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Section 8. Environmental Health, Pollution Disputes, etc.

The government shall enact measures to prevent pollution-related health damage and outbreaks of victims. Additionally, for victims it shall promote prompt and fair protection measures as well as ensuring their health based on Polluter Pays Principle.

Furthermore, the government shall promote prompt and reasonable settlement of disputes.

Likewise, complaints settlements shall be promoted to conserve living environment and to prevent further disputes in the future. Pollution control regulations shall be strictly enforced.

1. Relief and Prevention of Pollution-Related Health Damages

1.1. Relief

Based on the Law for the Compensation of Pollution-Related Health Damage persons verified pollution-related health damage receive compensation and should be relieved promptly and fairly. As for Minamata Disease, verification, comprehensive measures for Minamata Disease and comprehensive research at National Institute for Minamata Disease shall be promoted.

1.2. Prevention

To prevent health damage from air pollution, the health damage prevention program financed by the fund in Pollution Related Health Damage Compensation Association shall be undertaken. A pollution in the area can be observed regularly and continuously (Environmental Health Surveillance System) shall be established and various research programs shall be promoted.

2. Pollution-Related Dispute Resolution

2.1. Dispute Resolution

Based on the Pollution-Related Dispute Resolution Law, the government shall provide venues for mediation and arbitration.

2.2. Handling Complaints

Again, based on the Pollution-Related Dispute Resolution Law, the government shall provide information and guidance to local governments so that pollution complaints filed in their jurisdictions can be adequately settled. Furthermore, measures to ensure that pollution complaints to local police are properly received and handled shall be implemented.

2.3. Measures on Crimes Against the Environment

To prevent pollution offenses, related organizations and private individuals must cooperate and measures to make such violations criminal shall be promoted.


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