Section 1. Trends in Environmental Problems

1. Changing Environmental Problems
 People live and run various types of businesses extracting resources in 
the form of food and raw materials from the.surrounding environment, and 
discharging domestic waste, manufacturing refuse, gas emissions, sewage 
and other unusable substances into the environment. In other words, we 
have enjoyed many blessings of the environment and placing impacts on it 
at the same time. The environment, however, has the ability to restore 
itself, and therefore as long as people's impacts stay within this 
ability, the ecosystem remains in balance, enabling our socioeconomic 
activity in a sustainable manner.  However, as the world's population 
increases and socioeconomic activities expand, these activities exact a 
heavier toll on the environment and begin to threaten it.  Exploitation 
of resources in excess of nature's ability to restore itself has led to 
a decline in natural resource reserves.  Habitat losses threaten the 
survival of various species of wildlife. Output levels of waste and other 
discharges beyond nature's ability to purify itself is causing actual or 
potential pollution.

1.1. The Nation's Environment
 In Japan, during the period of rapid economic expansion after World War 
II, the environmental contamination and nature destruction became major 
social problems. In retrospect, these problems arose from the 
insufficient consideration on the environment. In an effort to resolve 
these problems, the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control and 
the Law for the Conservation of the Natural Environment were enacted, 
and pollution control and nature conservation policies were implemented 
based upon these laws.  These policies, combined with efforts of both 
citizens and local governments, corporate investment in pollution 
prevention and technological developments showed remarkable results by 
the mid-1980s.  Likewise, an effort to conserve the natural environment 
revealed considerable results. 
 Since then, Japan has continued steady economic growth. With the world's 
second largest economy, Japanese production now accounts for as much 
as 15% of total world production.  During these years of economic growth,
 mass-production, mass-consumption and mass-disposal have become an even 
more an integral part of both Japan's socioeconomic activities and its 
way of life. We also experienced further concentration of population and 
socioeconomic activities in urban areas. In these circumstances, we have 
not observed sufficient improvement in urban and domestic-type pollution 
such as urban air pollution by nitrogen oxides, water contamination by 
domestic sewage. Economic expansion has brought about increase of solid 
waste.  The quality of underground water and sources of drinking water 
has deteriorated. Increase in the use of chemicals calls for our 
precautionary efforts to prevent environmental pollution by chemicals. 
Possibilities of new environmental pollution resulting from newly 
developed technologies are also pointed out.
 Furthermore, in urban areas, the nearby environment has 
been disappearing and nature is becoming further removed from people's 
everyday lives. On the other hand, in rural areas where population is 
decreasing and getting older, maintenance of environmental conservation 
capacity of forests and farmlands is becoming more and more difficult. 
Now people are becoming increasingly desirous of comfortable and 
peaceful lifestyles in a rich and pleasant environment.  

1.2. Global Environment
 Since the end of World War II, the Earth's population and the 
activities of that population have both shown geometrical growth. The 
world population grew from 1.65 billion in 1900 to 2.52 billion in 1950, 
and further to 5.3 billion by 1990. Between 1950 and 1990, the world's 
economy increased five times, the world's primary energy supply 
increased more than four times, and fertilizer use increased more than 
nine times.  Developed nations have been consuming large quantities of 
natural resources and have likewise, been disposing quantities of waste. 
On the other hand, developing countries have undergone rapid population 
growth, increasing demand for food to combat poverty, and numbers of 
projects for economic development.  Against this backdrop, deterioration 
of the global environment has become a priority issue.
 Ozone layer depletion and global warming are examples of environmental 
issues affecting the entire planet.  Likewise, effects of acid rain show 
absolute disregard for national boundaries.  Decrease of tropical 
forests and extinction of various species of wildlife are going on 
around the world. Some developing countries are experiencing 
environmental pollution, caused in part by rapid population growth, 
concentrated populations in urban areas and industrialization.

2. Future Trends in Environmental Problems

2.1. Global Economy, Society and the Environment

2.1.a. Socioeconomic Trends
 According to the United Nations, the world's population will continue 
to increase, particularly in developing countries, and will reach 10 
billion by the year 2050.  The percentage of the world's urban 
population will increase, and, particularly in the developing world, 
huge mega-cities are predicted to emerge. Regarding economic activities, 
the United Nations estimates that the speed of economic growth in 
developed countries will slow.  Regardless, the size of their economies 
is already extremely large.  Although it appears that developing 
countries in South and East Asia will experience robust economic growth, 
it is feared that some developing countries will experience rapid 
population growth without alleviation of poverty. According to the 
International Energy Agency ("IEA"), using 1990 as a standard, demand 
for primary energy will increase 1.48 times worldwide by the year 2010.  
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization ("FAO") estimates 
that the population in developing countries will grow faster than that 
of food production and, as a result, by the year 2010, 
their total net imports will have increased.  It also estimates that if 
the fishing industry maintains its current production level, no 
significant growth can be expected.  The demand for forestry products is 
predicted to continue high growth.

2.1.b. Trends in Environmental Problems
 It is feared that these rapid population growth and expansion of 
socioeconomic activities are threatening the Earth's environment, which 
supports the survival of humankind.  For example, the Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC") predicts that if no measures are taken, 
the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2050 will be 
twice as large as that which existed before the Industrial Revolution, 
while the average global temperature will increase by roughly 0.3 
degrees Celsius every decade.  This implies a full 3 degrees increase by 
the end of the 21st century, using present temperatures for comparison. 
Regarding ozone depletion, the Scientific Assessment Panel established 
under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer 
predicted that, based on assumed compliance with the amended Montreal 
Protocol (Copenhagen, 1992) by all nations, global ozone losses which 
were first discernible in the late 1970s will recover in about the year 
2045, other things being equal. Other problems include marine pollution 
caused by human activities on 
land and sea; desertification partly caused by over-grazing; 
deforestation of tropical and other forests due to untraditional slash-
burn-farming techniques, excess gathering of wood for fuel and improper 
commercial cutting; wildlife extinction due to over-hunting and habitat 
losses; acid rain resulting from large quantity of fossil fuel use; 
transboundary movements of toxic waste; and environmental pollution in 
developing countries, such as urban air pollution resulting from rapid 
expansion of economic activities and fuel use without appropriate 

2.1.c. Necessity for International Activities
 These problems occur in a world where countries are increasingly 
becoming interdependent upon one another as cross-border trade and 
investment expand.  The activities of one country may potentially burden 
the environment of another country.  It is therefore essential to tackle 
these environmental problems on a global scale.  As such, it is 
necessary to promote international efforts, including strengthening 
international ties when formulating and implementing environmental 
policies, promoting foreign assistance to the efforts of developing 
countries themselves to achieve the goals of environmental conservation 
and economic development at the same time.

2.2. The Nation's Economy, Society and the Environment

2.2.a. Socioeconomic Trends
 It is expected that the rate of population growth in Japan will decline,
 while the percentage of elderly people, as a portion of the total 
population, will rise.  In fact, Japan's total population will actually 
begin to shrink after the year 2010.  Looking at population levels by 
region, the populations of large cities will continue to rise, while 
those in rural areas will continue to shrink through the beginning of 
the 21st century.
 Long-run economic growth is expected to slow due to fewer working hours 
and a diminishing work force, whose numbers are expected to peak around 
the year 2000.  Savings rates will also decrease due to the high 
proportion of elderly who must be cared for during this time.
 Given these trends, the period between now and the early 21st century 
is a crucial one in terms of providing public projects for environmental 
conservation.  It is predicted that the industrial structure will become 
more service and information oriented.  Demand for transportation will 
grow moderately.  The growth rate in total passenger number and cargo 
freight is predicted to be smaller than the same equation with an added 
variable to incorporate a distance figure.  Consequently, people and 
cargo will travel greater distances.  Household consumption per capita 
is predicted to increase, people are expected to work fewer hours, 
leaving individuals with more leisure time.

2.2.b.Trends in Environmental Problems
 Japanese society and its economy are beginning to mature after decades 
of tremendous growth.  In the process, Japan consumed large amounts of 
natural resources and discharged great amounts of pollutants into the 
environment.  Japan is expected to continue its present trend toward 
urbanization, but while doing so, it needs to control the burden 
inflicted on the environment from such activities.  The dilemma does not 
stop with problems related to conserving the environment from the mere 
discharge of regional pollution.  There is still a concern about ever 
expanding socioeconomic activities which harbor potentially detrimental 
effects for the environment.  Likewise, it is feared that the 
sustainability of society itself is becoming increasingly uncertain.
 Developed countries are imposing tremendous burdens on the global 
environment.  As a member of this group, Japan must take considerable, 
affirmative strides to create a society able to sustain development, 
while decreasing the burdens it inflicts on the global environment.  
 For example, if all measures relating to energy conservation were 
perfectly enforced, it is predicted that per-capita levels of CO2 
emissions recorded in 1990, would stabilize by the year 2000.  This is 
the goal of Article 1 of the Action Program to Arrest Global Warming.  
If this can be achieved, the total increase in global warming is 
predicted to be nominal.  
 To further prevent global warming, controls on CO2 emissions are 
likewise necessary.  This is the goal of Article 2 of the Action Program 
to Halt Global Warming.  Of considerable concern is the relatively high 
rate in growth of emissions in the transportation and commercial/
residential sectors.  This rise correlates with the increase in energy 
consumption in each respective sectors.  Measures to halt this trend are 
needed.  Also, if current production and consumption patterns persist, 
waste generation is predicted to increase.  Consequently, it is becoming 
increasingly critical to pioneer new methods for controlling waste 
generation at each stage of the socioeconomic process (e.g. the 
production, use and consumption stages).
 In large metropolitan areas, measures to ease various forms of urban 
and domestic pollution, such as air pollution caused by nitrogen oxides, 
emitted via automobile exhaust and water pollution, generated by 
domestic water use in the form of raw sewage, should be implemented.  It 
is also necessary to design measures able to deal with potential 
environmental contamination due to the use of chemical substances and 
the development and utilization of new technologies.  It is also feared 
that if acid rain is not prevented, the ecosystem will begin to be 
detrimentally affected in various permanent ways.
 Conserving vegetation ("green spaces") and bodies of water in urban 
areas, as well as forests and farmlands in rural areas are pressing 
matters.  Wildlife numbers are decreasing and some species are 
threatened with extinction.  The effort to battle these problems must 
comply with the Japanese people's growing demand for a comfortable 
living environment ("environmental amenities") and meet ever increasing 
need to come in contact with nature.

3.  Characteristics of Future Environmental Problems
 The environmental issues to be tackled in future have the following 
characteristics, in view of their trends and prospects explained above.
 First, environmental issues cannot be divided into categories, like 
human health, mankind's living environment or the natural environment.  
It is necessary to adopt a comprehensive approach that takes into 
consideration causes and effects of the entire system.   For example, 
the complex role forests play in CO2 absorption and the ecological 
impact of acid rain caused by nitrogen and sulfurous oxides cannot be 
 Second, many current environmental problems, such as global warming, 
urban and domestic pollution, are generated during routine daily 
activities of companies and individual citizens.  It is, therefore, 
necessary for all members of society, to actively and voluntarily take 
part in conserving the environment.  It is also necessary for each 
member to take another look at the socioeconomic system and his/her own 
personal lifestyle.
 Third, environmental issues have become problems of global proportion 
affecting wide geographical areas and the lives of future generations.  
These problems must be resolved through a joint effort by both developed 
and developing countries.  It is necessary to strengthen international 
cooperation for this purpose, consolidate scientific information and 
implement environmental conservation measures with long-term perspective.
Section 2.  Growing Awareness and Activities

 The national and local governments, companies and individual citizens 
are becoming increasingly aware of the seriousness of those 
environmental problems that threaten the basic life support system of 
humankind.  In addition, there is a growing consensus regarding the 
urgent need to change both our current lifestyles and the prevailing 
economic system to construct a sustainable society with minimized 
environmental loads, each member of society sharing fair burden. These 
beliefs are expressed as a principle of environmental ethics for human 
beings living in a finite environment. This rising of awareness is 
driving forward people's various actions and cooperation to conserve the 

1.  International Community
 In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 
("UNCED") was held, in response to increasing awareness of the 
significance of global environmental issues.  The countries in 
attendance reached an international consensus to design and implement 
measures to achieve sustainable development, globally.  As a result, the 
Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 were adopted.  A majority of the 
participants also agreed to sign the United Nations Framework Convention 
on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity.  Japan, as 
well as many other nations, contributed to the success of the UNCED.  
For the purposes of implementing the agreements adopted at  the UNCED, 
the United Nations set up the Committee for Sustainable Development.  
 Additionally, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
 ("OECD") and other international bodies, are working together to 
integrate environmental and economic policies.

2.  Activities in the Nation

2.1.  The State
 In recent years, a wide range of measures and activities have been 
promoted by the government in an effort to conserve the environment, 
such as measures concerning nitrogen oxides emitted by automobiles, 
measures household waste water and protection of wildlife, and programs 
for environmental education and others.  Measures to conserve the global 
environmental problems have also been strengthened, such as establishing 
the Council of Ministers on Global Environmental Conservation in 1989, 
and adopting the Action Program to Arrest Global Warming in 1990.
 Furthermore, the Basic Environment Law was enacted in 1993 which aims 
at coping with a broadened range of environmental problems of today, as 
well as implementing the achievements reached at the UNCED.  The Law 
provides for new basic principles for environmental conservation and 
various policy measures.  The government also adopted the National 
Action Plan for Agenda 21 in the end of 1993 and submitted it to the 
United Nations, which specifies the measures of Japan to implement those 
tasks of Agenda 21.

2.2.  Local Governments
 Local governments have always played an important role in pollution 
reduction and nature conservation.  Recently, an increasing number of 
local governments are formulation environmental management plans to 
address broad, current environmental issues.  Many are advancing new 
efforts to promote international cooperation and many are actually 
crossing their own borders to creating alliances between local 
authorities for environmental conservation.

2.3.  Corporations
 Corporations are becoming more aware of the inherent problems of 
current socioeconomic system where mass-production, mass-consumption and 
mass-disposal pattern prevails.  They also recognize the need to reduce 
the environmental load generated by their business activities.  There 
are voluntary actions taken by corporations to tackle these problems.  
For example, some companies and economic organizations have established 
their own charters for global environmental conservation or have 
formulated independent environmental action plans.  Some are maintaining 
systems that conserve the environment, while some are implementing 
voluntary environmental audit systems.  Likewise, progress is being made 
through independent efforts to transfer technology.

2.4.  People
 People are becoming increasingly aware of the burden they are imposing 
on the environment and realize the need to change their lifestyles. They 
are participating increasingly in such activities as recycling, national 
trust, greening/tree-planting, and protecting nearby bodies of water.  
International activities are also increasing.

Section 3. The Significance of the Plan

 To appropriately respond to the aforementioned trends and 
characteristics of current environmental problems, and taking account of 
the growing awareness and increasing activities, it is essential to 
promote a comprehensive and systematic measures to conserve the 
environment, encompassing not only the Government's environmental 
measures but also actions to be undertaken by local governments, 
corporations and people.
 The Basic Environment Plan sets the basic concepts and long-term 
objectives of environmental policy which are based on the Basic 
Environment Law, upon foreseeing through the mid-21st century, and 
specifies the direction of environmental policies in the period toward 
the early 21st century.  It thus aims to ensure that all groups and 
sectors of society share common understanding and cooperate with each 
other for conservation of the environment.