On 22 July, Shoji Muneoka, the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steal Foundation (JISF), at its regular press conference criticized the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) because its mid-term target of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions by 2020 is not realistic.

Compared to the current government led by the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito, DPJ proposes a surprisingly ambitious proposal for global warming. Indeed, while the Government’s mid-term target of GHG emissions reductions by 2020 is to cut them by 15 percent below the 2005 levels, DPJ proposes 30 percent.

It is now highly probable that DPJ will gain a majority in the next election for the House of Representatives on 30 August and a government led by DPJ will be established for the first time.

Consequently, major economic groups have recently been seriously aware of its proposal and demanding reconsideration for DPJ.
Muneoka claimed that though the mid-term target of the Government is severe enough for industries, it is hardly understandable that DPJ proposes twice as strict a mid-term target as the Government’s target. He further points out that achieving the DPJ’s mid-term target would generate 800,000 to 1,200,000 of the employed and it is thus necessary for DPJ to show a proposal that carefully considers impacts upon Japanese economy and people.
Similarly, the Economic Association of Japan currently criticized that a proposal of DPJ is idealistic and DPJ should understand the economic situations. Further, on 17 July, Shosuke Mori, the chairman of the Federation of Electirc Power Companies of Japan, at the summer seminar of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, claimed its proposal is unrealistic saying ‘DPJ should make clear impacts of its climate change proposal on economy and people.

Indeed, the DPJ’s proposal cannot be seen as realistic. In order to achieve this ambitious target, for example, DPJ insists on the creation of a global warming tax. However, DPJ decided not to clarify contents of the tax in its manifesto because there has been a conflicting idea on its contents within DPJ, some proposing the creation of carbon tax and others suggesting increase in consumption tax. Both plans seem difficult for DPJ because labour unions, the mainstay of support for DPJ, can hardly support carbon tax as it would be a heavy burden for the economy and because DPJ promises not to raise the consumption tax rate for four years.

In addition, though, DPJ mostly neglects negative impacts placed on people and economy by its mid-term target because economic growth stimulated by environmental investment, it insists, can avoid them. Consequently, the DPJ’s proposal for global warming in the election is much more stringent than the proposal of LDP as LDP takes carefully into consideration negative effects of its proposal. DPJ tends to propose attractive proposals for everyone without showing their negative effects. For instance, while DPJ proposes such an ambitious target for GHG emissions reductions, it contradictorily promises to make highway charges free, which might lead to increase in CO2 emissions from automobiles.

Though the DPJ’s ambitious proposal for GHG emissions reductions is surely welcomed, DPJ should concretely clarify ways to achieve it and its negative effects on people and economy.

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