Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 2

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21


A) Promoting Sustainable Development Through Trade

I. To accelerate sustainable development in developing countries through the free trade system, it is important to improve their access to advanced countries' markets.

With this in mind, Japan has been making the following efforts, and will continue to make these efforts.

Japan implemented the preferential tariff system in August 1971. For preferential products that originate from the least developed countries, Japan removed tariffs in April of 1980 for items such as agricultural and fishery products as well as mining and manufacturing products. Furthermore, in April of 1981, Japan extended the period in which these treatments were to be applied by ten years.
In April of 1991 Japan granted another ten year extension, and greatly expanded the coverage of ceilings.
In April 1990, in addition to removing tariffs from more than 1,000 mining and manufacturing products, Japan made efforts to lower tariffs on major products, and now maintains the lowest tariffs among all major developed countries.

II. Furthermore, in order to assist sustainable development in developing countries through the vitalization and stabilization of trade, including technical assistance to promote the processing of commodities, Japan has taken the measures provided below. These measures regarding the trade of commodities that make up important exports for a large number of developing countries will be supported by efforts to include encouragement of processing and distribution of commodities, diversification of management, and improvement of infrastructure.

In order to realize sustainable development in developing countries, it is of utmost importance in the field of commodity trade to enhance the capabilities of developing countries to deal with environmental problems on their own. As can be seen in the example of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), which aims for the sustainable management of tropical forests, international commodity agreements and study groups can play an important role in providing opportunities for cooperation between producer and consumer countries to realize sustainable management. Japan actively participates in almost all commodity agreements and study groups, and has made positive contributions in forming agreements through the negotiation of such international commodity agreements as those for cocoa, coffee, sugar and tropical timber.
In order to reveal the problems of existing international commodity agreements, as well as to discuss measures to improve these agreements and the frameworks of future cooperation, Japan has proposed the creation of a high-level Workgroup on Primary Commodities.

2-B) Making trade and environment mutually supportive

Japan supports the principle that environment and trade policies should be mutually supportive, as agreed upon in Agenda 21. Particularly, mutual supportiveness can be made possible where environmental benefits and costs are internalized into prices. An open multilateral trading system, supported by the adoption of sound environmental policies, would have a positive impact on the environment and contribute to sustainable development.

An open and multilateral trading system allows more efficient allocation and use of resources and thereby contributes to an increase in production and incomes and to a lessening of demands on the environment.

A sound environment, on the other hand, provides the ecological and other resources needed to sustain growth and underpin a continuing expansion of trade. Trade provisions in multilateral environmental agreements have, along with environmental regulations and supportive measures and education for the protection of the environment, played a role in tackling global environmental challenges.

Preceding UNCED, Japan, along with the United States, the European Communities and Canada, played a role in accelerating discussions on trade and environment at the Quadrilateral Trade Minister's Meeting in September 1991. Furthermore, in consideration of Agenda 21, Japan has been actively participating in and contributing to multilateral discussions in the OECD and the GATT toward the establishment of mutual supportiveness between trade and environment.

Japan will continue to play a positive role in activities such as the creation of international rules of trade and environment in multilateral fora, including the OECD and GATT, which are indicated below. (Notes)


The OECD adopted procedural guidelines on integrating trade and environment policies. These guidelines are intended to guide governments in the development and implementation of trade and environmental policies in a way that promotes mutual support between trade and environmental policies and thereby contributes to the achievement of sustainable development, which is the ultimate goal of both policies. After the work on the procedural guidelines was completed, the OECD began conducting various kinds of analytical work concerning effects of trade on the environment, processes and production methods as well as use of trade measures for environmental purposes, keeping in mind the future establishment of international rules.
The GATT, in the Group on Environment Measures and International Trade (chaired by Ambassador H. Ukawa of Japan) is working on trade and environment, focusing on the following three points:
Trade provisions contained in existing multilateral environmental agreements vis-a-vis GATT principles and provisions.
Multilateral transparency of national environmental regulations likely to have trade effects.
Trade effects of new packaging and labeling requirements aimed at protecting the environment.

2-C) Providing Adequate Financial Resources

In the post-Cold War era, the economic development of developing countries is essential for the sustainable and stable growth of the world economy. As such, it continues to be important to support sound macro-economic policies and structural reforms in these countries. Currently, the funds necessary for economic development in many developing countries remain insufficient. Even in the developing countries that have achieved relatively steady development, there is a great demand for environmental and infrastructural improvements among other needs.

In this light, further expansion of official financial flows from Japan to developing countries is an important part of Japan's international contributions because it will promote financial flows from the private sector to developing countries.

Taking the above into consideration, Japan established the "Funds for Development" Initiative in June 1993, the details of which are explained below. Japan intends to make the implementation of these measures a priority.

Over the next five years, Japan will implement official financial assistance to developing countries through both its Fifth Medium-Term Target for ODA amounting to approximately $70-75 billion (net disbursement base) and non-ODA untied funds amounting to $50 billion (commitment base), including untied loans from the Export-Import Bank of Japan, international trade insurance and other forms of assistance.
Of the financial assistance, the total of untied funds will be approximately $120 billion (commitment base) over the next five years, including both ODA funds, consisting of untied Yen Loans, and subscriptions and contributions to international development financing institutions, as well as non-ODA funds.
Consideration is to be given to the following points in providing funds from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) and the Export-Import Bank of Japan:
Special emphasis is to be placed on the environment, infrastructure improvements and other sectors.
Co-financing with the World Bank and other international development financing institutions as well as with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is to be promoted.
Consideration is to be given to the use of guarantees and other forms of support from the Export-Import Bank of Japan.
Consideration is to be given to the use of international trade insurance including the newly established overseas untied loan insurance.

2-D) Encouraging Economic Policies Conducive to Sustainable Development

Encouraging Economic Policies Conducive to Sustainable DevelopmentIn aiming to realize sustainable development, it is necessary to enhance the priority and the capacity for dealing with environmental problems in developing countries. For this reason, in Japan's Official Development Assistance Charter (1992), it is indicated that; Japan attaches central importance to supporting the self-help efforts of developing countries toward economic take-off. It will therefore assist the efficient and fair distribution of resources and "good governance" in the developing countries. This will be ensured by developing a wide range of human resources and socio-economic infrastructure, including domestic institutions, and by meeting the basic human needs (BHN), thereby promoting the sound economic development of the recipient countries.

In addition to deepening mutual understanding through intensive policy dialogues, full attention should be paid to efforts promoting democratization and the introduction of a market-oriented economy, and to the securing of basic human rights and freedoms in the recipient country.

Also, in implementing environmental assistance, Japan will make the best use of its technology and expertise, which it has acquired in the process of successfully making environmental conservation and economic development compatible.

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

Approach to Global Problems

Recognizing that it is important for developed and developing countries to cooperate in tackling global problems such as the environment and population, Japan will support efforts being made by developing countries to overcome these problems. In implementing environmental assistance especially, Japan will make the best use of its technology and expertise, which it has acquired in the process of successfully making environmental conservation and economic development compatible.

Human Resources Research and Development and Other Cooperation for the Improvement and Dissemination of Technologies

A priority of Japan's assistance will be placed on human resources development, which in the long-term is the most significant element of self-help efforts towards socio-economic development and a basic factor in the nation-building efforts of developing countries. Japan will also promote cooperation in support of the improvement and dissemination of technologies, such as those that will raise the research and development and the adaptive capabilities of developing countries.

Infrastructure Improvement

Priority will be placed on assisting infrastructure improvement, which is a prerequisite to socio-economic development.

Basic Human Needs

To help people suffering from famine and poverty, refugees and others, Japan will provide assistance to the basic human needs (BHN) sector and emergency humanitarian aid.

Structural Adjustment

Japan will provide support to structural adjustment, so that entrepreneurship and the vitality of the private sector in recipient countries can be fully exerted in the market mechanisms, and will also support their efforts to solve the accumulated debt problem.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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