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Japan’s New Growth Strategy: Abandon Climate Targets

The Japan Times

Japan will drop its pledge to the global community to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 because of the country’s reduced future reliance on nuclear power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a government panel Friday. The new policies will be incorporated into Japan’s new growth strategy.

During a meeting of the panel, which is discussing economic revival measures, Abe stated that he will revise the energy strategy compiled by the previous administration of the Democratic Party of Japan, which aimed to completely phase out atomic energy by the 2030s.

He instructed Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and other members of his Liberal Democratic Party-led Cabinet to alter the DPJ’s target of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other gasses blamed for greenhouse warming by 25 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

Domestic utilities have become increasingly reliant on fuel oil and gas for thermal power generation since almost all of the nation’s nuclear reactors remain offline for safety reasons following the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Yukio Hatoyama, the DPJ’s first prime minister after the party swept the 2009 general election, announced the 25 percent reduction goal the same year in a speech at the U.N., drawing praise from many countries.

Abe said his government aims to establish the country’s new emission goal prior to a U.N. conference on climate change to be held this November in Poland. However, any lowering of the target could weaken Japan’s influence at the gathering, officials in Tokyo said.

At the panel meeting, Abe also instructed his ministers to address 10 major issues, including the revision of the DPJ-set energy strategy, work to enable stable low-cost energy supply, the promotion of free-trade agreements with other countries and support for Japanese farm exports.

The panel is also examining policies to boost domestic employment, encourage deregulation in growth sectors such as medical and welfare, and promote Japan-made infrastructure abroad.

The new policies will be incorporated into Japan’s new growth strategy slated to be compiled by June. “I hope you will be freed from conventional ideas and will pursue policies in different spheres,” Abe told the gathering.

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