Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 8

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21


A) Integrating Environment and Development at the Policy Planning and Management Levels

Formulation and implementation of measures for the conservation of the environment should be carried out in a comprehensive and well-planned manner, while ensuring integrity of those measures.

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

In order to promote measures for the conservation of the environment in a comprehensive and well-planned manner, Japan will establish the Basic Environment Plan containing basic guidelines for comprehensive and long-term measures regarding environmental conservation.
In order to promote environmentally sound land-use based on the "National Land Use Planning Act" while giving precedence to public welfare in conserving the natural environment, Japan has been successively establishing the National Land Use Plan (National Plan) for the purpose of ensuring the balanced use of national land over a long period of time. Since the target year of the National Land Use Plan (National Plan) was 1995, due consideration was to be given to even more environmentally sound use of land when the plan was revised, while reflecting the prefectural governors' intentions sufficiently in the plan.
It is a practice in Japan to periodically establish a long-term economic plan as the basic policy for economic management. The "Five-Year Economic Plan - sharing a better quality of life around the globe," which was adopted by the Cabinet in 1992, contains various measures for "contributing to the resolution of global environmental problems" and "constructing an economy and society in harmony with the environment." Japan will promote these measures.
It is a practice in Japan to periodically establish the Comprehensive National Development Plan, considering the natural conditions of the land and also from an overall perspective of the economy, society and culture, for the purpose of comprehensively utilizing, developing and conserving the national land. In order to clarify its measures dealing with the national land from a long-term perspective, Japan is presently conducting a comprehensive examination of the current plan, in which it will consider better ways to conserve the environment and resources existing on the national land.
As for the issue of integrating environmental concerns with decision-making, consideration has been given to the environment in such areas as regional development, based on the provisions in Article 17 of the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control and Article 8 of the Nature Conservation Law. Article 19 of the Basic Environment Law states that the State shall consider environmental conservation when formulating and implementing measures which may influence the environment. Japan will continue to give appropriate consideration to the environment.

Environmental impact assessment on projects has been carried out in accordance with individual laws, administrative guidance, local authorities' ordinances and guidelines, following Cabinet approval in 1972 of " Environmental Conservation Measures Relating to Public Works." Furthermore, in 1984 the Cabinet made a decision "On the Implementation of Environment Impact Assessment" and thereby established the "General Guidelines for the Implementation of Environment Impact Assessment," as a unified set of rules concerning large-scale projects, in which the national government would be involved. Also, the importance of environmental impact assessment is clearly indicated in the Basic Environment Law. In addition to making further efforts for the proper application of the current system, Japan will conduct surveys and research on Japan's domestic and foreign systems, and considering the results of these surveys and research, as well as changes in the socioeconomic situation, it will consider necessary improvements, including the legislation for such systems.
In order to improve the decision-making process, a white paper on the environment regarding environmental conditions and environmental conservation measures taken by the Government is submitted to the National Diet and officially published each year. Japan will further improve public opinion surveys and monitoring systems to discern the inclinations of the general public.

8-B) Providing an Effective Legal Framework

Since the mid-1960's, environmental measures have been promoted under a legal system which had two pillars: the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control (1967), and the Nature Conservation Law (1972); and the nation has achieved considerable results in overcoming severe pollution as well as in conserving the excellent natural environment. There remain unresolved problems however, and it is necessary to deal appropriately with structural changes in environmental problems (e.g. recent urban and household-generated pollution and ever-increasing waste disposal) and changes in the situation surrounding environmental problems (e.g. increasing necessity to deal with global environmental problems), with a view to constructing a society which will allow sustainable development with less environmental burden. It is also necessary to actively promote international activities to deal with these problems. For this reason, Japan established the Basic Environment Law in November 1993 to promote wide-ranging measures regarding environmental conservation in a comprehensive and well-planned manner. In addition to establishing basic principles for environmental conservation, and clarifying the responsibilities of the State, local authorities, corporations and the citizens concerning environmental conservation, this Law contains provisions concerning the formulation of the Environment Basic Plan, environmental quality standards, regulatory measures, economic measures, as well as matters concerning environmental education and international cooperation, thus providing a new framework for environment policy to deal with the challenges of today.

Local authorities will also carry out measures based on those enacted by the national government, as well as measures for environmental conservation which suit the natural and social conditions specific to respective local authorities.

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

Evaluating implementation of laws, and measures for their smooth enforcement.
Evaluating implementation of laws, and improving the system to enforce them.

In addition to establishing environmental quality standards regarding air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and noise, Japan has devised measures including regulations for the discharge of substances which cause environmental pollution as well as regulations on land-use for the sake of conserving the natural environment, based on individual laws such as the Air Pollution Control Law, the Water Pollution Control Law and the Nature Conservation Law. Furthermore, Japan will conduct monitoring of the air, water and the natural environment, as well as monitoring of the conditions whereby regulatory measures are called for in accordance with individual laws, and improve upon these measures to make them even more effective.

Japan will also promote improvement of the system for carrying out such measures.

Providing legal information and increasing public awareness of such information

As it is necessary to have sufficient understanding and the cooperation of corporations and the general public with regard to the establishment and enforcement of laws and regulations, Japan will provide appropriate information and improve public awareness concerning these matters. Furthermore, in addition to publishing a white paper on the environment each year, Japan prepares a variety of publications on laws concerning the environment.

Training government officials in charge of environmental matters

Japan will promote training for officials, of both the national and local governments, who are in charge of environmental administration. The purpose of the training is to enhance expertise in environmental administration, and to obtain further knowledge in this field.

Necessary measures for settling disputes and providing injury relief

As regards disputes concerning pollution, in accordance with the procedures based on the Law Concerning the Settlement of Pollution Disputes, the Pollution Coordination Committee conducts mediation, arbitration, intervention, and makes rulings on such matters. In order to provide relief to sufferers concerning pollution-related health damage, in accordance with the procedures based on the Law Concerning Compensation and Prevention of Pollution-related Health Damage, Japan takes necessary measures including compensation for pollution-caused injury to human health, examples of which being such cases as Minamata disease and asthma.

Legal Follow-up Regarding International Efforts

In order to implement international conventions concerning the environment, Japan appropriately applies such domestic laws as the Law Regarding the Protection of the Ozone Layer Through Control of Specified Substances and Other Measures, the Law on the Control of Restrictions on Exports/Imports or Other Operations of Specified Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes, the Law Regarding the Prevention of Marine Pollution and Maritime Disasters, and the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

8-C) Making Effective Use of Economic Instruments, Market and other Incentives

In order to deal with the environmental problems of today, it is necessary to integrate environmental concerns into all possible socioeconomic activities, and for this purpose it is necessary to make use of a variety of measures, including regulatory measures, economic measures, environment impact assessment, measures to improve facilities for environmental conservation, and measures for providing assistance to businesses and individuals so that they can positively deal with such matters.

To deal with such pressing issues as urban and household-generated pollution, increases in the amount of waste and global warming, it is necessary to make use of economic measures to urge each actor to take actions suitable for the conservation of the environment.

A variety of economic measures for appropriately reflecting the environmental cost in prices of products and services are expected to be effective to prevent hindrances to environmental conservation and are internationally recommended.

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

Japan will appropriately conduct surveys and research on the effectiveness of economic measures with regard to the support of environmental conservation and on the effects of the implementation of such measures on Japan's economy. When it is necessary to implement such measures, Japan will make efforts to acquire the understanding and cooperation of the people in order to support environmental conservation. In this case, when such measures are to be implemented for global environmental conservation, Japan will consider international collaboration so as to appropriately ensure the effectiveness of such measures.
As regards the costs for the collection and disposal of general waste, in addition to controlling the discharge of waste by requiring households to assume an appropriate share of these costs, Japan will study measures to create and promote conditions for adopting a deposit system. Also, Japan will conduct wide-ranging studies on the application of economic measures, including studies on arrangements to clarify the responsibilities of those who discharge the waste and to appropriately reflect the costs of waste collection and disposal on product prices.

8-D) Establishing Systems for Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting

Japan will promote development and improvement of an indicator system in which environmental factors are appropriately evaluated, including the new System of National Accounts (SNA) that includes the Satellite System for Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA). For this purpose, it will attach importance to the implementation of the following activities.

It is also indicated in the current Five-Year Economic Plan that the development of such indicator system will be promoted.

Since 1991, Japan has been conducting research into the establishment of an accounting system for environmental resources, and will actively promote this system. In addition to promoting information-related improvements and the development of methodologies for accounting environmental resources, this research is also for the purpose of studying methods for adding the SEEA to the SNA. Specific activities are as follows.
As regards the move to have SEEA included in the SNA, according to a three-year plan that began in FY 1992, Japan will continue to promote study on an accounting structure and methods of monetary evaluation of the environment and will conduct the design of and trial calculations for the SEEA of Japan. In developing such a system, due consideration will be paid to Japan's domestic needs and conditions, based on the standards contained in the SNA Handbook on Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting" of the United Nations. Steps will be taken to move to estimations for the next stage, according to the level of achievement attained by the above-mentioned trial calculation.
As regards environmental resource accounting, giving due consideration to the international impact, Japan will develop methodologies for drawing up physical accounting tables reflecting the relevance between the environmental loads imposed by Japan's economic activities and the quantitative and qualitative changes in environmental and natural resources, as well as methodologies for evaluating those changes in terms of economic value. Also, through the practical application of these methodologies, Japan will draw up basic accounts to reflect upon the SNA.
Particular importance is to be attached to quantitative and qualitative changes in Japan's forest and agricultural resources in promoting the above-mentioned research.(2)
Japan will conduct wide-ranging observation, monitoring, surveys and analysis to ascertain environmental conditions, the conditions of environmental load, and the enforcement of measures for environmental conservation. It will also improve the information system about them.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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