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Big business must assume social responsibility on greenhouse gas cut
Akahata editorial

Amid the increasing world concern about the deteriorating global environment, public opinion that Japan should aim at a low-carbon society curbing greenhouse gas emissions has become strong.

Democratic Party of Japan leader Hatoyama Yukio declared that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 25 percent from the 1990 figure. Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo welcomed Hatoyama's proposal, and stated that the JCP would willingly cooperate to work to achieve this goal.

However, the financial circles are objecting to Hatoyama's proposal, arguing that the proposal would be too costly to implement. Their resistance is going against both public opinion in Japan and the world current.

People's NO to big business control

The goal of an 8 percent cut proposed by Prime Minister Aso Taro is merely what business circles consider to be realistic in order to maintain the present industrial structure. It is far from the developed countries' guide set at a 25-40 percent cut, and is drawing strong criticism in and out of Japan as back-pedaling on previous international agreements. In contrast, the proposal of a 25 percent cut is internationally appreciated as a spur to meaningful negotiations.

The Liberal Democratic Party-Komei government controlled by the financial circles was severely criticized by the voters in the recent historic general election. It means that the people said NO to the measures proposed by the financial circles. Deterioration of the global environment will not stop as long as the government obeys the demands of large corporations. The financial circles should take seriously the fact that the public has rejected government controlled by big business and should assume the social responsibility to corporate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The overwhelming majority of greenhouse gas emissions in Japan is attributable to large corporations. Society as a whole must not allow their responsibility to be overlooked.

It is wrong to think that a strong measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is too costly for the public to accept. The Aso administration's estimate of the cost to cut greenhouse gas emissions was politically embellished with data that emphasizes rising costs. The discussion about cost should begin anew under the new political environment.

Some say that measures against global warming strain the economy. But the need now is to change the model of economic growth. It is hard to maintain the conventional ways of economic growth based on the large consumption of fossil fuels. Economic growth should be achieved through other ways including an increase in the use of solar energy. Even as a low-carbon society, economic growth can be achieved through more job opportunities offered through green industries.

Some big business leaders say that if the government sets the 25% target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, companies will have to shift their production bases abroad where control on greenhouse gas emissions is slack. Such an idea that moving to other countries makes is the way to evade the regulation on gas emissions is behind the times, when we face the borderless issues of global environmental degradation.

It is predicted that the cost of damage caused by drastically increased natural disasters due to massive emissions of greenhouse gas is extremely high compared to the cost to change the economic structure. The entire cost is lower when measures are taken as early as possible. Pursuing the creation of a "low-carbon society" is the challenge for the next generation.

Break with the 'profit-first' economy

It is required that big businesses drastically change their policy to one fulfilling the requirement of "social responsibility" by breaking with the "profit-first" policy. It is necessary to change the business circle's stance through pressure brought to bear by the new government and by people's movements.

- Akahata, September 14, 2009

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