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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 8 - 14  > Foreign Minister expresses his intention to review overseas aid to coal-fired power station projects
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2019 May 8 - 14 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Foreign Minister expresses his intention to review overseas aid to coal-fired power station projects

May 10, 2019

Foreign Minister Kono Taro on May 9 said that in line with international trends, the government will review its policy on providing financial assistance to foreign coal-fired thermal power generation projects. The current policy is facing a growing international criticism for going against global efforts to tackle climate change.

Kono made this remark in response to questioning by Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Inoue Satoshi at a House of Councilors Foreign Affairs Committee meeting. Inoue grilled the government in regard to a project to retrofit a coal-fired thermal power plant in Indonesia with Japanese government loans through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). He pointed out that part of the construction project is being carried out in violation of relevant Indonesian laws and that local opposition to the project is mounting.

Kono said that the Foreign Ministry will look into the matter and take necessary measures without leaving it to JICA.

The Indonesian government-owned company PLN is pushing forward with the coal-fueled power station expansion project in West Java. The local environment bureau has recognized that part of the project, the construction of a substation, is illegal, issuing an order for suspension. Nevertheless, the project continues.

JICA lent a total of 615 million yen to the PLN to help cover costs for designing new facilities in the West Java power plant, including the substation in question. However, JICA does not have detailed information about the design of the substation or how the money was spent.

Inoue criticized JICA and urged the government to disclose in full information regarding the design in order to investigate the connection between the JICA loans and the illegal construction work.

In addition to its high rate of carbon emissions, the eight-year-old thermal power station in West Java has been criticized for damaging the natural environment and posing health hazards to local residents. Residents are speaking out against the project of expanding the power plant, claiming that it will further worsen the adverse effects. They are facing police crackdowns and some residents were unjustly arrested in violation of their human rights.

A group of opponents in April came to Japan to urge the Japanese government to stop financing the controversial project.

Past related articles:
> Indonesian farmers opposing coal-fired power plant project ask for JCP assistance [April 11&13, 2019]
> JCP protests gov’t-funded bank decision to finance environmentally damaging project [April 22, 2017]
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