URGE THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT TO SIGN THE G7 OCEAN PLASTICS CHARTER!
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「Pollution of the ocean from plastics is an international problem. We ask the government of Japan, as a member of the international society, please sign the “Ocean Plastics Charter” as soon as possible and catch up with the movements of the world.」
Marine litter crosses national borders and has become a problem throughout the world now. Perhaps you have seen articles, videos, and photos of littered coasts and estuaries, plastic litter that drifts in the oceans bringing harm to whales and sea turtles, microplastics…. What are the causes of these? What is the situation regarding measures in the international society? What are Japan’s actions?
Most of the marine litter is waste from daily life. Litter that drifts out from Japan crosses the Pacific Ocean.
JEAN (Japan Environment Action Network) organizes the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) in Japan. Survey results from the ICC show that wastes generated from daily life in towns are transported along rivers to the ocean and compose 70-80% of the litter washed ashore onto ocean coasts.
Litter that reaches the ocean is transported by wind and ocean currents, and drifts across national and regional borders. Along the coasts of Japan, we can find litter from overseas mixed with the litter from Japan. Similarly, litter from Japan drifts out into the open seas and washes ashore onto coasts bordering the Pacific Ocean, such as the coasts of Hawaii and the North American continent.
In 2004, the need to address the marine litter problem was already shared among China, Japan and Korea.
The Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting (TEMM), where the environment ministers of China, Japan and Korea meet to exchange views, has been held annually since 1999. In the 2004 joint statement, the shared view of the necessity to cooperatively address the marine litter problem in the Northwest Pacific Ocean was already expressed.
In 2015, the G7 published an action plan for the marine litter problem, and outlined mobilizations to take place over three years.
In 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported on marine pollution by plastic litter as a new global environmental problem. The following year, at the 2015 G7 Schloss Elmau Summit held in Germany, this problem was included in the leaders’ declaration, and an action plan to address the problem was adopted as an annex. At the G7 Summit, which focused on economic cooperation and security, the marine litter problem was also taken up as a global issue.
The following year, at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit chaired by Prime Minister Abe, the need to take measures against marine litter was once again stated. At the 2018 G7 Charlevoix Summit in Canada, the “Ocean Plastics Charter” was proposed in the annex of the “Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities” since plastic litter is feared to have a serious impact on the marine ecosystem. This charter is a declaration of action promoting taking measures to reduce plastic litter, from the place of generation, on a global scale. In addition to costal litter collection activities, the charter includes goals such as achieving a 100% recycling rate of plastic containers by 2040 and reducing unnecessary single-use plastics.
After the 2015 action plan was adopted, nations that had been making efforts to advance domestic measures signed the “Ocean Plastics Charter”. Japan and the U.S., however, did not sign. Although the same three-year period had passed since adoption of the action plan, the Japanese government stated as a reason for not signing, “Domestic laws had not been prepared, and at the present stage, the implications of the document and the effects on the society could not be determined.” However, at the same time, a new lawmaker-led legislation that revises the law on promoting removal and disposal of marine litter and includes restrictions on use of microplastics was passed unanimously in the Diet.
Non-G7 nations are advancing in their measures, but what about Japan?
Japan has the sixth largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and is blessed with many marine resources, so it has a responsibility to be proactive in the protection of the marine environment.
A report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in June 2018 presents various measures against pollution by plastic litter being taken in over 60 nations, but Japan was not among these nations mentioned. Furthermore, Japan was reported as being second in the world in the amount of single-use plastics generated per capita.
Sign the “Ocean Plastics Charter” as soon as possible.
The government of Japan has indicated that by the 2019 G20 Summit Meeting in Osaka, it will coordinate a “strategy for dealing with the circulation of plastic resources”, which includes concrete measures and numerical targets, and incorporates the targets for the various measures written in the “Ocean Plastics Charter”.
If so, shouldn’t this be done after signing the “Ocean Plastics Charter”? In order for Japan to catch up with the movements of the international community in protecting our oceans,
please urge the Japanese Government to sign the “Ocean Plastics Charter” .
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