Monthly Archives: November 2007

What is Happening to Tasmanian Forests?


What is Happening to Tasmanian Forests?

Australia is a huge exporter of iron, coal, uranium, and farm products. Timber production is also active, and a large amount of woodchips are exported to Japan to be used as tissue paper or copy paper.

Tasmania, an island state, is located southeast of the Australian continent. Its area is almost the same as that of Hokkaido in Japan.

Tasmania is an island where the old growth and environmentally sensitive forests grow, forming a very unique ecosystem. You can find rare species such as wedge-tailed eagles and swift parrots. The forests, however, are being rapidly destroyed, because Forestry Tasmania (the manager of Tasmania’s state forests) and Gunns Ltd. (a huge timber processing company and exporter) are irresponsibly harvesting timber.

In September 2007, delegates from Consumers Union of Japan and anti-globalization organizations visited Tasmania on the invitation of Wilderness Society, an Australian environmental group working on this problem, and had a chance to witness the destruction at some of the old growth forests.

Read Yasuaki Yamaura’s report (pdf)

(Photo: Japanese consumer activists meet Bob Brown and Christina Milne, Australia)

International Bad Products Award

Michiyo Koketsu from Consumers Union of Japan participated in Consumers International’s Congress in Australia, October 29-November 1, 2007.

CI announced the winners of the International Bad Products Awards, as 400 delegates from national consumer organisations and governments convened in Sydney. The awards aim to highlight failings of corporate responsibility and the abuse of consumer trust by internationally recognised brands.

Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, and Mattel top the list of international brands guilty of abusing consumer rights, with Takeda Pharmaceuticals winning the overall prize for taking advantage of poor US regulation and advertising sleeping pills to children, despite health warnings about paediatric use.

“Japan has stricter rules and does not allow such TV commercials for pharmaceutical products,” notes Michiyo Koketsu. “However, we are concerned about the risk that similar commercials will be approved in the near future. We will keep watching and expect more corporate social responsibility, not less.”

The Japan Times: Plastic Incineration Rise Draws Ire

Saturday Nov. 3, 2007:

Plastic Incineration Rise Draws Ire

Environmentalists unswayed by limited tests, fears risks


Yasuko Ueda, a writer and outspoken activist with the Tokyo-based Consumers Union of Japan, a nongovernmental organization, noted that the government has invoked the Containers and Packaging Recycling Law to require that plastics be re-used as “resources” to the greatest extent possible, but complained that her own ward, Setagaya, does far too little to either recycle plastic or curtail its production from the start.

Ueda said she estimated that waste plastic could be reduced by about half were the directive followed more aggressively.

“The amount of plastic that absolutely must be incinerated will be only a tiny amount and the (lifetime of dump sites) can be extended by 10 years and beyond,” Ueda said. “If they just skip over those steps and categorize all that plastic as burnable,” she continued, “don’t you think that’s wrongheaded?”

FTA and the Food on our Tables

FTA and the food on our tables (pdf)

Free Trade Agreements and the Food on our Tables

Report by Yasuaki Yamaura

Consumers Union of Japan/Food Action 21

The purpose of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) is to lower tariffs and reduce other barriers for products traded between two countries. Since 2002, Japan has concluded FTAs with Singapore, Mexico and Malaysia, and is also currently in the process of negotiating deals with South Korea, India and Australia.

I participated in two meetings sponsored by NGOs and experts that oppose FTA negotiations in Sydney, Australia, in parallel with the APEC Summit in September, 2007. People from different backgrounds in the Asia-Pacific region voiced their opinions and shared experiences of how their countries are dealing with trade liberalization, investment rules, intellectual property rights and other topics. I was also invited to give a talk about the problems related to agriculture and food systems.

(Read the entire report in the pdf document)