Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 5

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21


The world population, particularly that of developing countries, is continually increasing, and in Africa there is an increasing number of people in need of food. Also, there is more and more deforestation resulting from shifting cultivation, excessive felling of trees for fuel wood, and excessive grazing, leading to increasing levels of soil erosion and desertification. Meanwhile, the migration of populations from rural areas to cities, particularly among a large number of developed countries, even relatively advanced developing countries, threatens not only the foundations of regional societies, but also regional farming land and forest conservation.

The population problem affects the entire world, and it is important that this problem be dealt with through the cooperation of developed countries and developing countries. However, in developing countries particularly, the problem of the relationship between population and the environment is becoming more and more serious, and Japan has positively engaged itself in many fields of population-related assistance particularly through multilateral cooperation. As for bilateral cooperation, Japan has been providing support centering on project-type technical cooperation through the Japan International Cooperation Agency in such fields as family planning and maternal and child health. It is strengthening its efforts in this field based on the report of a study group investigating assistance for population and development issues. It is necessary for Japan to continue its assistance, based on a deep understanding of the relationship between environmental and population problems, paying due consideration to its integration with development policy, especially in the areas of poverty alleviation and the improvement of the status of women, among other issues. Meanwhile, by domestically perfecting the systems of family registration and resident registration, the national census, and demographic statistics, Japan has an accurate grasp of trends in population, and has been able to use these in establishing a variety of policies.

As regards family planning, necessary knowledge should be disseminated based on the understanding that not only women but also men play an important role in this respect.

Furthermore, as development and population growth are two factors behind global environmental problems such as global warming, tropical deforestation, and desertification, in order to achieve sustainable development it is necessary to promote research to clarify the causality between the three factors of environment, development and population. For the purpose of contributing to the conservation of the global environment, Japan has been prompting surveys and multidisciplinary and international research by many researchers from various fields. Deepening Japan's cooperation with foreign research institutions and international agencies through these activities and disseminating the findings of the research will contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

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

Japan will continue to promote research regarding a basic scenario for such issues as social and economic development in the Asian Pacific region, based on various kinds of population estimations.
In 1993, Japan started research on the effect that changes in population and social and economic development in developing countries have on environmental problems.
In view of the fact that population-related policies of countries are closely related to the sovereignty of the individual countries, Japan will place particular importance on respecting the demands of the countries it is dealing with when engaging in bilateral assistance concerning population-related policy.
Japan will make good use of various international organizations, including the United Nations Population Fund.
So that Japan will not be thought to be interfering with national sovereignty in providing population-related assistance, it is necessary to promote this assistance with great care, and because good results can be expected by directly approaching local people on a grass-roots level, Japan will continue to attach importance to cooperation through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which have advantages in this respect.
For developing countries which are troubled by excessive migration of people from rural areas into urban areas, Japan will emphasize assistance for the promotion of sustainable agriculture and stock farming which prioritizes conservation of soil, , the promotion of the agricultural, forestry and fishery industries to support populations while conserving the environment, the promotion of forest conservation and afforestation, as well as the promotion of the mining and manufacturing industries which take due account of proper industrial location.
In Japan's depopulated areas, where decreasing numbers and aging of the local population are causing difficulties in land conservation and the maintenance of local communities, Japan will implement various well-planned projects, such as construction of industrial infrastructure for the purpose of promoting agriculture, forestry, fishery, mining and manufacturing industries, as well as projects to improve living environments such as sewerage. In so doing, Japan will continue to encourage the settlement of population in rural areas as well as the development of those areas.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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