Introducing Japan's Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito

Having a Commissioner for the Environment or an Environment Minister in charge of all the issues we care about here at Treehugger seems like a good idea. During his hearing with the European Parliament, Stavros Dimas announced four main priorities for his term in office: climate change, biodiversity, public health and sustainability. Here in Japan, Tetsuo Saito from the small New Komeito party has come up with a number of interesting proposals. Just last week, he told NHK he will propose the introduction of fossil fuel taxes from next year to help curb greenhouse gas emissions. He added he hopes to give tax reductions to people who contribute to energy savings, while imposing higher taxes on those who do not.

Tetsuo Saito has called for stringent mid-term greenhouse gas reductions, and wants Japan to set a medium-term target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020 or 2025 from the 1990 level. He also proposed replacing all official cars for cabinet ministers with next-generation automobiles, such as hybrids, by the time the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 as part of efforts to cut green house emissions.

Oh, and by the way, isn't this a very good time for the United States to upgrade the EPA to a proper federal government status - or will it just remain as an agency - to catch up with the European Union and Japan?Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito has quitely introduced some very far-reaching plans for Japan's over-the-counter cap-and-trade CO2 market. It is aimed at accelerating further cuts in the private sector via new technologies to save energy and reduce or remove emissions from the atmosphere, Tetsuo Saito told Reuters last month.

"It's based on a voluntary (cap) because we'd like to see as many companies as possible joining in as we start. But we're aiming to make it a cap-and-trade scheme eventually," he said. "We're hoping to accept applications from thousands or even tens of thousands of companies, ranging from big companies to medium to small ones as well as mainstay companies in each region."

Japan also wants more forest conservation at home while investing in clean energy projects abroad, giving it credits to offset emissions.

Who is Tetuo Saito? He was a visiting researcher at Princeton University for three years beginning in 1986. He was elected to the Diet for the first time in 1993. He is known here for his ties with NASA and is seen as an expert on lunar bases and clean energy technology. Due to his knowledge in these areas, he was appointed parliamentary secretary of science and technology in 1999. I look forward to more radical proposals from Mr. Saito, as environmental politics continue to move to the forefront.

More reading:
Japan's CO2 Emissions Up 8 Percent Since 1990
16 Kyoto Protocol Nations On Track to Meet Emissions Reductions, Through No Fault of Their Own
Will You Reduce Your CO2 Emissions By 50%?
Japan To Subsidize Solar Panels For Your House

Written by Martin Frid at

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