©Japan Wind Consultant Corporation
On 29 September, in the Prime Minister’s general policy speech, Prime Minister Taro Asa said, ‘environmental and energy technology, in which Japan has its strength, has power to create new demand and jobs’. Then, on 6 January, the Minister of the Environment, Tetsuo Saito, proposed the creation of Green Economy and Social Change (Midori no keizai to shakai no henkaku), a framework for Japanese Green New Deal (JGND), which aims at simultaneous achievement of economic recovery/job creation and solution of environmental problems through environmental measures. Concretely, it seeks to create jobs through promotion of the development of the environment-related industry and simultaneously control CO2 emissions by encouraging investment into development and spread of energy-saving technologies and products. Further, it seeks to expand its market from 70 trillion to 100 trillion yen and create more than 80 thousand jobs. MoE said that it would form a concrete plan in cooperation with other ministries and by receiving ideas from experts and the public.
Then, on 1 March, the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) has constructed a framework for JGND. The framework proposes to create jobs and boost the economy through social capital development, consumption promotion and investment encouragement. For instance, the framework suggests that solar energy panels will be installed on public facilities, schools and government buildings. Further, it proposes that fixed price purchase system will be introduced which obligates electric power companies to purchase electricity generated by solar power, leading to decrease in costs of solar energy and the rapid spread of solar energy in the private sector. MoE will work out details of JGND and then draw up its final draft within March.
As JGND seeks to shape the future Japanese economy and the society (FJES), the Government should display its clear vision of FJES and the success of JGND may depend on the wider social consensus on how FJES should be. However, the Government seemingly has failed to display it so far and there has been no wider social consensus on FJES. Major opposition parties also have failed to display their own vision of FJES. Thus, the insufficient degree of discussion among the society has been done.
Indeed, even within the Government, there has not been a clear vision or consensus of FJES. Indeed, when the Minister of the Environment Saito submitted the MoE’s policy proposal to the Prime Minister Aso on 6 January 2009, Aso told him ‘it became shabby because it was examined only within MoE’ and rejected it and ordered him to cooperate with other ministries. Though MoE examined the ideas about JGND provided by the public, experts and local government leaders, it seems that MoE has not (or has been unable to) sufficiently and effectively discussed it with other ministries. According to the senior official of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE), which is an affiliated agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), ‘regarding JGND, MoE has told nothing to ANRE and we do not need to tell MoE anything about it.’ Contrarily, on 13 January, ANRE established a new apartment for new energy society system which aims at job creation and realisation of new energy and energy-savings measures in cooperation with other ministries. Because METI and ANRE have strong connections with industry and deal with economic issues and policies, JGND of MoE must be hardly successful unless they are closely involved into its decision-making process. In addition, although JGND must be highly significant for the Japan’s future, the public may be less familiar with JGND. Thus, MoE needs to try harder to let JGND well known and create a wide range of opportunities for public participation.
JGND must be a grand idea. However, unlike ‘ordinary’ economic or environmental policy, if Japan took the wrong direction, Japan would no longer be a leading country in political, economic and environmental respects. As MoE could not take the responsibility for such consequence, JGND must be carefully and sufficiently discussed by all components of the society, because the Japanese society as a whole needs to take the responsibility.