MANILA, Philippines. Environmental and civil society groups from around the globe today blasted the Japanese government for what they view as Japan’s sinister plot to establish waste colonies in Asia by liberalizing trade in toxic wastes via bilateral trade and investment treaties.
Joining the first ever global day of action (GDA) against Japanese “waste colonialism” are over 200 concerned groups and individuals from more than 45 countries, including the Philippines, who have come together to denounce and block Tokyo’s push to link toxic waste trade with overseas development assistance and investments.
The collaborative campaign organized by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Basel Action Network-Asia Pacific (BAN-AP), Greenpeace Southeast Asia (GPSEA), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH-Asia) and EcoWaste Coalition coincides with the celebration of the Kenpo Kinenbi, a Japanese holiday to commemorate the enactment of the Nihon-koku Kenpo (Constitution of Japan) that took effect on 3 May 1947.
In Manila, environmental activists satirized the famed raising of the US flag atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. They mounted a tableau in front of the Embassy of Japan that saw activists dressed as Japanese bureaucrats and merchants erecting a flag with the yen sign in a mound of trash to illustrate Japan’s scheme to set up waste colonies in Asia. Citizens groups in Chennai, Seoul and Taipei also gathered in front of the Japanese foreign missions to denounce the liberalized trade in toxic waste.
“We oppose the insertion of toxic items, many of which are globally banned or restricted, in Japan’s economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with neighboring countries. The zero tariff provisions for these items will only ease toxic waste flow and legalize the deceitful shipment of toxic wastes disguised as ‘recyclable’ goods from Japan to poorer countries. We reject any scheme that will turn our countries into toxic waste outposts and put the health and safety of our workers and communities at great risk,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, GAIA.
Participating groups endorsed a cyberpetition and sent postcards to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reminding him that “Asia is not Japan’s waste colony” and asking his government to stop circumventing the provisions of multilateral environmental agreements such as the Basel Convention, which aims to minimize the generation and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to ensure that their disposal be close to the source of generation.
“The Japanese Constitution requires faithful observance by Japan of its international obligations. Prime Minister Abe’s government CAN NOT honorably claim faithful observance of the Basel Convention when they actively undermine the Convention and its decisions by arm-twisting poorer countries into taking Japanese toxic wastes,” said Richard Gutierrez, Director, BAN-AP.
The groups asked the governments of Japan, Philippines, Thailand and other Asian governments to remove all toxic items and other exploitative provisions in their respective EPAs, and to ratify the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment, which prohibits exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for any purpose, including recycling.
Organizers will also forward copies of their petition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and other appropriate governmental and inter-governmental agencies.
The idea of organizing the GDA against Japanese “waste colonialism” came to light in January this year at the GAIA-sponsored Waste Not Asia meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India where activists resolved to campaign against the looming toxic threats from the Japan EPAs.
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