The 40th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was held in Kyoto City on 4 - 7 May 2007, with a view to having consultations on environmental and energy issues as well as financial cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
In parallel with the meeting, the Citizens' Forum was held at Doshisha University on 5 and 6 May, jointly organized by the NGOs monitoring the activities of the ADB. As part of the forum, there were a series of symposiums and panel discussions, including the one aimed at considering the impact of the ADB loans on the environment, debt and human rights from the perspectives of the local population of the project areas and civil society groups. Many representatives of the NGOs from the region, who came to Japan to make policy proposals to the ADB participants in the annual meeting, joined in the Citizens' Forum.
At a panel discussion on "Japan's wastes export policy", strong concern was raised about the fact that Japan is attempting to achieve "free" export of hazardous and other wastes to Asian countries through the 3R Initiative (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle of wastes) as well as the conclusion of economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with Asian countries.
One of the panelists, Mr. Takeshi Yasuma (Japan) of Citizens Against Chemical Pollution[Japanese], pointed out: "The problem is that even hazardous wastes are included in the list of Tariff Zero Products under the EPAs that Japan has concluded with the Philippines and Thailand. In the name of the 3R Initiative, the intention to facilitate the exportation of wastes and second-hand products from developed to developing countries is subtly covered up".
"Being the largest shareholder, Japan holds a considerable stake at the ADB. It would be naive to think that Japan's wastes trade policy would not influence the ADB", he continued. "If the ADB puts funds for the 3R Initiative projects, this may force developing countries to accept hazardous wastes from Japan and other developed countries".
"Why should the Asian nations other than Japan bear the burdens of Japan's hazardous wastes, simply because they are poor?" questioned Mr. Richard Gutierrez (the Philippines), Director of Basel Action Network(BAN) in charge of the Asia-Pacific region. According to him, members of environmental organizations raised protest against the ratification of the EPA between Japan and the Philippines in front of the Embassy of Japan in Manila on 2 May, just before the forum, crying that "Asia is not Japan's waste colonies".
Mr. Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace Southeast Asia talked about the amount and monetary value of the wastes exported from Japan into Thailand in 2006, including batteries, electronics and glass containers. He also pointed out that, in the EPA between Japan and Thailand, such hazardous wastes as arsenic, mercury and thallium are contained in the list of Tariff Zero Products, as is the case in the EPA between Japan and the Philippines. He also reported about adverse impacts on the local environment of an incinerator in Thailand, constructed with the loans from the ADB and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
Sharing the common concern that Asia should not be a garbage dump for Japan, the panelists emphasized the need to call on Japan and other countries, in particular developed nations, to ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment, which prohibits the exportation of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for whatever reasons, as well as to refrain from containing hazardous wastes in the list of Tariff Zero Products in EPAs.
· "Don't Throw Japanese Wastes Away into Asia: NGOs Say "ABA Contributes to Pollution", Internet Alternative Newspaper JANJAN, 13 May 2007 [Japanese]
· Citizens Against Chemical Pollution, "Economic Partnership Agreement" [Japanese]
· Basel Action Network
· Greenpeace Southeast Asia