The following is an article on the current status of the problem of fragrance pollution in Japan written by Ms. Reiko Mizuno, Board Member of the NPO Japan Endoctrine-disruptor Preventive Action.
Quote: As cosmetics and fabric softeners infused with artificial fragrances proliferate, there are increasing complaints of headaches and nausea caused by the chemical substances used to create the scents. What are the risks of this new kind of air pollution?
The Japanese obsession with cleanliness is contributing to a booming market. The outcome of all of this has been a new kind of scent pollution caused by the mixture of toxic substances used to create the popular scents. And the situation is being aggravated by the microcapsules used in fabric softeners and other types of scented cleaners. The “bursts of fragrance,” “long-lasting scents,” and “nano-air-freshening” capabilities touted by manufacturers are made possible by a technology that locks fragrances and deodorants in tiny capsules made of urethane and melamine resins.
Consumers Union of Japan has formed a “Liaison Committee to Eliminate Fragrance Pollution” with six other organizations, including Japan Endoctrine-disruptor Preventive Action, to work towards the eradication of fragrance pollution, or kougai (香害). It is estimated that there are several millions of people who are suffering from health problems caused by products such as scented fabric softeners, scented detergents, perfumes and other artificial fragrances. Some become so ill to the extend that are unable to go to school or work. Some have even been forced to evacuate deep into the mountains or an environment that is free from fragrance pollution. Since 2017, we have been lobbying the central government, local governments, manufacturers and other companies in an effort to eradicate fragrance pollution. Are you concerned about fragrance pollution? Please get in touch with Consumers Union of Japan.
In September of this year (2021), the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will convene the United Nations Food System Summit. In this international event with the goal of building a “healthier, more sustainable and equitable food system,” and in 2021 (in the midst of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028) the participation and input of people engaged in family farming and small-scale agriculture, who account for more than 80% of the world’s food production, should be a priority.
However, when concrete discussions began in 2020, the issues of human rights and land grabbing that small-scale farmer groups have been advocating were not at the center of the agenda, and corporations and related organizations that promote land concentration, monopolization of agricultural supply chains. Also the industrialization of food, including biotechnology, have had a significant influence on decision-making. In response to this, many civil society organizations have begun to take action and sent a joint letter demanding a review of the summit’s preparatory process, transparency in decision-making, and dialogue to achieve this, but no fundamental review has taken place. In March, a group of small-scale farmers from the Global South (Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa) announced their boycott of the summit and launched a counter-summit, the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems (GPS).
The following statement is the press release issued along with the declaration of this counter-summit. What is it that the world’s small-scale farmers, who hold the key to the future of agriculture, and the many civil society organizations that share their beliefs, want to address by boycotting the UN event?
Consumers Union of Japan is a member of the Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN), one of the organizers of the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems.
In Japanese here
Facebook in English here
Statement from Hungry4Change here
Continue reading Global People’s Summit on Food Systems — Against the UN Food System Summit
Consumers Union of Japan is stepping up the campaign against plastic waste. We are asking major convenience stores and coffee shop chains what they are doing in Japan, as their stores in other countries appear to be moving faster to reduce the use of plastic containers and cups.
Questionnaire on Reusable Container Initiatives
To: Seven & I Holding, FamilyMart, Lawson, Starbucks Japan, Doutor Coffee
27 May 2021
According to media reports, reusable container initiatives are progressing overseas. For example, 7-Eleven in Taiwan has announced a plan to eliminate the use of all disposable plastics by 2050, and has introduced a reusable cup system in four of its stores. In addition, FamilyMart in Taiwan has also started selling lunch boxes in reusable containers. Furthermore, Starbucks in South Korea has announced that it will eliminate disposable cups by 2025. Some McDonald’s stores in London, UK have introduced reusable takeout cups that can be returned to other McDonald’s stores after the drink is finished.
We hope that Japanese companies will also promote reuse in order to reduce the use of single-use plastics. Therefore, we would like to ask you about your company’s efforts to reuse containers.
1) Please let us know the material of each of the beverage and food (lunch box, etc.) containers that you provide for both in-store and take-out.
2) Do you have any plans to change your take-out containers from one-way containers to reusable containers?
3) If the plastic recycling promotion bill currently being discussed in the Japanese Parliament is enacted, cutlery and straws may be legislated (reduced use) next year. Examples of legislation methods include charging a fee, point card promotion schemes, and switching to alternative materials. It has been shown that point card promotion schemes does not reduce the amount of plastic bags used. Also, switching to alternative materials will not reduce the amount of waste. We believe that charging a fee is the most effective way to reduce the amount of waste. Please let us know what your policy is.
Please click here for our latest English newsletter: CUJ JR 181
From the Editors: Special Issue About Organic School Lunches in Japan
Organically Grown Food for School Lunch Programs
School Lunches at a Public School in Chiba Prefecture
News: New Wave of Protests Against Unregulated Genome-Edited Tomato
Trend: Intense Activity Toward Commercialization of Genome-Edited Food
24 February 2021
To Members of the Press
Start of Signature Campaign for the Labeling of All
Genetically Modified Seeds and Seedlings
Consumers Union of Japan, the No! GMO Campaign and the Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity through Food and Agriculture (FA Net Japan) have started a signature campaign to demand that all genetically modified seeds and seedlings be labeled.
In December 2020,, the Japanese government approved the cultivation and distribution of genome edited tomatoes. The first genome edited tomato in Japan is a tomato with high levels of GABA developed by Sanatech Seed Corporation (Minato-ku, Tokyo) in collaboration with Tsukuba University. The company has begun accepting applications from the general public to distribute free seedlings of this genome edited tomato prior to its general distribution in the market.
In Japan, genome-edited seeds and seedlings are currently not required to be labeled, making it difficult for farmers to avoid such crops even if they do not want to grow them. Consumers cannot avoid genome-edited foods even if they do not want to eat them. In order to change this current situation of serious disdain for food sovereignty, we have started a petition campaign to require mandatory genetic engineering labeling on seeds and seedlings.
We will be holding a press conference to inform the media about the petition campaign. We hope that you will be able to attend. If you are able to attend the press conference or would like to participate online via ZOOM, please contact us by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 26 February 2021.
Please contact: Michiyo Koketsu, Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)