April 22, 2021

Japan Climate Initiative urges government to halve its emissions by 2030


Japan Climate Initiative released a message titled “Calling for an Ambitious 2030 Target for Japan to Realize the Paris Agreement Goal” on Monday prior to the climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday and Friday.

In this message — which also was sent to Japan’s prime minister, foreign minister, and economy and environment ministers — JCI urges Japan’s government to “aiming for an emission reduction of 50%” according to JCI representative Takejiro Sueyoshi.

Among the 291 organizations that support this message are 208 companies of various sizes and industries. Sueyoshi pointed out in a recent online interview with The Japan Times that this is a sign of changing Japanese corporate culture. He explained that speaking out directly to the government was not an ordinary practice in the traditional corporate culture of Japanese companies. “Now companies are starting to reveal their names in making requests to the government, which means that Japan is becoming a country where policies reflect the opinions of those who actually make up the country, instead of closed internal discussions among the limited parties,” said Sueyoshi.

He said about 50% emission reduction is what these companies will need to achieve in order to survive in the global market. Sueyoshi also argued that the figure should not be groundless. “It should be based on science and in line with what the global community aims for,” he said.

Considering that the European Union’s new target is a 55% reduction by 2030, a minimum of 45% target that JCI calls for does not seem exceptionally ambitious. Yet it is still a significant hike from the current 26%. Achieving this minimum target and aiming for an even higher reduction rate keeping pace with Western countries requires extensive efforts, but there are reasons why Japan should not shy away from this challenge.

“Japan is a country with a population of as many as 130 million people. There are countries that rely on Japan in many aspects. Our GDP is the third-largest in the world. Japan is not a country that should allow itself a low target and a position to follow others,” said Sueyoshi. He pointed out that Japan has fallen behind in this global race of tackling the issue of emission in the last decade, which has made domestic companies suffer from the gap between the target set by the government and what is expected in the global market. “The role of the government is to set a target that is equal with what the international society is calling for,” he said.

The number of JCI’s member organizations has increased from 105 at the time of its establishment in July 2018 to 638, evidence of the sense of urgency shared especially among companies as well as municipal governments, NGOs and other organizations that make up JCI.

Sueyoshi explained that commercial rules cross borders suddenly at times, which is alarming to companies. “For example, a company orders its foreign supplier a sudden demand. But the power of individual companies is not always enough to meet increasing or changing demands of the global market,” he said, stressing that the government needs to take the initiative in making an environment where Japanese companies can maintain their international competitiveness while being aligned with their counterparts in the rest of the world in emission reduction efforts.

But of course this is not just about competition. “Every country is a victim and a perpetrator at the same time, and we all need to cooperate with each other to address this issue,” said Sueyoshi. To do that, he stated that Japan should contribute to creating rules in the global market. “We aim to make new kind of richness and happiness that can be enjoyed by many people within the limits of the Earth without giving up growth and aspiration for affluence,” said Sueyoshi.

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