Water / Soil / Ground Environment

Conservation of the Water Environment - Chapter 2

2.Enactment of the Basic Environment Law and Implementation of the Water Environment Administration

1. Enactment of the Basic Environment Law

In Japan, the Environment Administration was initially implemented under the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control and the Nature Conservation Law. It has achieved considerable results in this context. However, our current socioeconomic systems and lifestyles based on mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal cause serious environmental problems both domestically and internationally. In order to cope with these problems, conventional methods that focus on regulations have not always been sufficient. The Basic Environment Law, which was enacted in November 1993, lays down basic principles and policy guidelines and provides the foundation upon which to implement a comprehensive environment policy.

2. The Basic Environment Plan

As stipulated in the Basic Environment Law, the Cabinet decided on the Basic Environment Plan, which clarifies long-term and comprehensive environmental policy, in December 1994. The plan sets four long-term objectives: building a socioeconomic system that fosters a sound material cycle; harmonious coexistence between humankind and nature; participation by all sectors of society; and the promotion of international activities. The plan spells out not only policies to be taken by the government but also the role and activities expected of local governments, corporations, the public, and private organizations to achieve these objectives.

3. The Water Environment Administration Based on the Basic Environment Plan

The Basic Environment Plan places "Conserving the Water Environment" among the policies under which we build a socioeconomic system that fosters a sound material cycle. The policy aims for integrated conservation of water quality, quantity, aquatic biota, and near-shore areas to maintain and enhance sound water circulation. An Extract from Conservation of the Water Environment from the Basic Environment Plan is below.

Restricting the burden on aquatic environments to within nature's capacity for purification is important. We must also consider not only the burdens on aquatic environments caused by the atmosphere and soil but also the effects of deterioration of aquatic environments on the atmospheric and ecosystems. To address these problems we must take an integrated view of conserving water quality, quantity, aquatic biota, and near shore areas. In this regard, policies shall be promoted to reduce burdens on aquatic environments at every stage of water utilization, to protect aquatic ecosystems, and to secure environmental safety.

Structure of the Basic Environment Plan

<The long-term objectives set by the Plan>
[Sound Material Cycle]
The Plan aims at building a socio-economic system that fosters a sound material cycle with the maximum possible reduction of environmental loads through the promotion of recycling and increased efficiency in the use of resources and energy at all stages of socioeconomic activities, from production and distribution to consumption and disposal, and through reduction and proper control of discharges to the environment.
[Participation]
In order to achieve a sound material cycle and harmonious coexistence, the Plan aims at building a society in which all parties participate actively and voluntarily in environmental conservation activities cooperate with each other, and share burdens fairly according to each party's impact on the environment, the environmental benefits enjoyed, and the ability to contribute to the protection of the environment.
[Harmonious Coexistence]
The Plan aims at maintaining and restoring a healthy ecosystem and ensuring coexistence between humankind and nature through the wise use of the environment: conserving outstanding natural environments, maintaining and restoring accessible natural environments, protecting and managing wildlife, and promoting rich contact between people and nature.
[International Activities]
Aiming to build a sustainable society that generates a minimal environmental load within Japan, the Plan will promote international activities through global cooperation that makes use of its abilities, technology, and experience, as deemed appropriate to Japan's presence in the global community.

The System of Measures of Water Quality Bureau

The Water Quality Bureau develops new measures mainly for the security and recovery of the 'Water' and 'Material' cycles.

Conservation of the Water Environment

Measures are developed to secure and recover a sound water cycleand artificially conserve water quality, quantity, aquatic biota, and the near-shore areas, based on the Basic Environmental Plan (decided by the Cabinet in December 1994)

Conservation of Water Quality
Conservation of Water Quality in Public Water Resources Objectives: Water Quality Standard (Human Health Issues + Living Environmental Issues)
(Issues requiring observation)
Common Measures Water Pollution Control Law (enforced in December, 1970)
Factory effluent control, notification of factory establishment, alteration order, regular observation Measures against Sewage
(Upgrading Projects, such as Sewerage, Agricultural Community Drainage and Consolidated)
(Treatment and Purifying Tank)
Special Measures in Enclosed Water Bodies Lakes and Reservoirs The Law Concerning Special Measures for Conservation of Lake Water Quality (enforced in July. 1983)
Planning of Conservation Plan of Lake Water Quality, Special Regulations
Enclosed Oceans Water Pollution Control Law
Total Pollutant Load Control Countermeasures against eutrophication
Seto Inland Sea The Law Concerning Special Measures for Conservation of the Environment of the Seto Inland Sea (enforced in October, 1973)
Permit system in constructing factories, conservation of natural seashore, retardant of reclamation
Drinking Water Sources The Law Concerning Special Measures for The Prevention of Water Quality in Headwaters Areas for the Purpose of Preventing Specific Trouble in the Drinking Water Supply (enforced in March, 1994)
Planning of the Plan, Special Regulations
[No headwaters area is specified as of February 1998]
Conservation of Groundwater Objectives: Water Quality Standard (Human Health Issues)
Water Pollution Control Law
Regulation of permeation of toxic substances from factories, Purifying order of polluted ground water
Conservation of the Marine Environment

The Law Relating to the Prevention of Marine Pollution and Maritime Disasters (enforced in December 1970 by the Ministry of Transport)
Establishment of controlling standards for emission of hazardous liquid substances and dumping of wastes from ships; Response to the Marpol Convention and the London Convention, which regulate international regulations; Response to the U. N. Convention on the Law of the Sea to preserve the whole marine environment including marine ecology; and Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities and Northwest Pacific Action

Waste Disposal and Recycling Measures

Waste Disposal and Public Cleansing Law by the Ministry of Health and Welfare)
Establishing standards for landfill waste and others
The Law for the Control of Export, Import & Others of Specified Hazardous Wastes and other Wastes (promulgated in December 1992 by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
Confirmation in exporting and importing hazardous wastes;
Review for establishment of an artificial system to promote desirable material cycle with waste disposal and recycling as one unit

Conservation of Soil Environment

Objectives:Soil Quality Standard

Agricultural Land Agricultural Land Soil Pollution Prevention Law (enforced in December, 1970, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)
Designation of polluted areas; Implementation of land improvement work
Urban Area Guidance under the guidelines for research
Prevention of Pollution by Agricultural Chemicals

Agricultural Chemicals Regulation Law (enforced in July 1948 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)
Establishment of Standards to Withhold Registration

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