Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to stay GM free

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the world’s leading forest product certifier, has decided to back away from a process that critics said would have opened the door to overturning FSC’s long-time core certification policy that prohibits the commercial use of genetically modified (GM) trees. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, which closely monitored the FSC discussions, noted: “The field testing and release of GM trees pose unprecedented threats to forests, wildlife, and communities that live near them.”

In November 2022, Consumers Union of Japan joined over 130 environmental and social justice groups from 34 countries that signed a statement to stop GM trees.

Blog: Dialogue, Share; No to Monopoly

Recently, an acquaintance entrusted me with proofreading a manuscript. It was a large work about Hannibal, the Carthaginian warrior who fought against Rome in the Mediterranean world in ancient times. Although I had to read many war stories, I was reminded that human beings have not changed one iota between the societies of B.C. and those of today.

In search of food, resources, and wealth, humans tend to wage wars of aggression with cease-fires, make and break alliances, and so on. To win wars, human wisdom is invested and technological innovations are advanced. (Archimedes even invented a new stone thrower.)

In wars, casualties are suffered and resources are wasted. Modern society, for example, has become completely stuck, as it were, in a state of exhaustion due to excessive science and technology, which is damaging the natural environment on which all human beings depend and our own health.

In order to achieve our goal here at Consumers Union of Japan, of “connecting healthy lives to the future,” neither war nor the development of new technologies is necessary. We do not need to monopolize the world by force, but to share it through dialogue.

As Kohei Saito, a noted author of “Capitalism in the New Age,” says, “Rebirth of the Common” will be the key. Human wisdom should not be used to win wars, but to bring smiles to everyone’s faces.

(Keiko Fukaya)

School “Artificial Turf” Chemical Problem

Open Letter of Inquiry on Artificial Turf

Japanese: https://nishoren.net/cuj/?p=180

20 March 2023

Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Office of Education

To: Kayoko Hama, Superintendent of Education

Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)

Co-Chairperson: Azuchi Kameyama

Co-Chairperson Miyoko Sasaki

Co-Chairman Martin Frid

Open letter of inquiry regarding artificial turf

We are a consumer organization working for safe and secure living.

We understand that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is “promoting the turfing of schoolyards and other areas in all public elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo to further enhance the educational environment,” and recently we often see schoolyards with artificial turf instead of natural grass. However, in recent years, plastic pollution has become increasingly serious, and efforts to reduce the use of plastic are being made around the world. Artificial turf, in particular, is the most common microplastic found in rivers.

Professor Hiroshi Okochi of Waseda University has pointed out that artificial turf may also contribute to microplastic pollution in the atmosphere.

Therefore, we would like to ask the following questions, and would appreciate it if you could answer them by April 20. Your answers will be posted on the organization’s website.

Please explain in detail the main purpose of the schoolyard turfing project. Do you think artificial turf is effective in achieving these objectives? For example, do you think that artificial turf is not appropriate as a place for children to connect with nature?

CUJ heard that the schoolyard turfing project was originally part of the “Green Tokyo 10 Year Project” and was intended to counteract the heat island effect. Will artificial turf work as a heat island countermeasure?

Artificial turf will eventually deteriorate and will need to be replaced. The artificial turf cannot be burned or recycled as it is, and most of it is land filled at final disposal sites. What is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s policy on the disposal of artificial turf?

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government subsidizes the cost of turfing school grounds. If artificial turf is to be installed, will it be subsidized as well? We think it needs to be reviewed.

The Tokyo Shimbun (1 July 2021) reported: According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Office of Education, artificial turf schoolyards are used in approximately 120 ward elementary schools in 23 wards, and in Adachi Ward, 28 of 69 ward elementary schools have adopted artificial turf.

How many of Tokyo’s 23 wards’ public elementary and junior high schools currently have artificial turf and how many have natural turf? If possible, please tell us by ward. We would also appreciate it if you could tell us the situation of elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo other than those in the 23 wards.

Japan Resources – 188

Please click here for our latest English newsletter (pdf): JR 188

Contents:

From the Editors: Peace of Mind

Press Event: Consumers in Japan Oppose Increased Military Spending

Blog: Breaking Bread

How about it, World, Do We Care about Biological Diversity, or Not?

Consumers Union of Japan has Signed the Global Appeal to Stop Gene Drives

In the News: Doubling the Defense Budget Won’t be Easy for Japan

From the Editors: Peace of Mind

Consumers Union of Japan took the initiative to protest against the proposal to increase Japan’s military spending. 28 consumer organisations joined together, wanting to protect ourselves and others from the potential risk that Japan will once again be involved in aggressive warfare.

This year, we will also step up our activities at home and abroad against the risks associated with genetic engineering, especially genome editing and gene drives. We are reaching out to like-minded groups in other countries to give a voice to consumers and citizens, who all want to live peacefully.

Please stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, as well as on our English Twitter account: https://twitter.com/consumerunionjp/

Press Event: Consumers in Japan Oppose Increased Military Spending

Joint statement: We, consumers, seek a peaceful society that respects life and livelihood. We oppose the possession of an enemy base attack capability (counterattack capability) and increased military expenditure.

On 6 February 2023, consumer organisations from across Japan jointly issued a joint statement opposing the Kishida Government’s proposal for a pre-emptive strike in the name of an enemy base attack and an increase in defence expenditure. The call was made by the Consumers Union of Japan and Shufuren. In response to the call, consumer organisations, co-operatives and other groups from across the country endorsed the statement, which was announced at a press conference held in Tokyo.

The fact that national and local consumer consumers across the country have expressed their opposition to the government’s proposed major military build-up shows that a sense of crisis about these government moves is gradually spreading.

On 16 December 2022, the Kishida Government made a Cabinet decision to revise the ‘Three Security Documents’, including the National Security Strategy. The ‘Three Security Documents’ clearly state the policy of possessing an ‘enemy base attack capability (counterattack capability)’ and increasing Japan’s defence expenditure to 43 trillion yen. An enemy base attack capability is the capability to strike within the territory of another country. It carries the risk of a first strike, which is forbidden by international law, and is contrary to Japan’s Constitution, which states that there will be no war. Deterrence to avoid war is not a matter of enemy base attack capability (counterattack capability), but of diplomacy through dialogue.

We, 28 consumer organisations, work to solve various consumer problems that arise in our daily lives. It goes without saying once again that our activities are only possible because we are guaranteed a peaceful society. We continue to confirm the importance of pacifism in accordance with the Constitution at the National Consumer Congress, which we have held every year since 1957. Consumer cooperatives, which together with consumer organisations are responsible for Japan’s active consumer movement, have adopted the slogan ‘For peace and a better life’. Underlying this is a strong will that war must never happen again, and must not be allowed to happen.

We reaffirm that the basis of the consumer movement is to reject everything that hinders peaceful living and threatens life, and we oppose the possession of an enemy base attack capability (counterattack capability). We oppose the increased defence expenditure in Japan, seeking a peaceful society that respects life and livelihood.

6 February 2023

(Signed by 28 consumer organisations, including Shufuren, Consumers Union of Japan, Tokyo Shodanren, Kanagawa Shodanren)

(Japanese: https://nishoren.net/cuj/?p=34)

Nikkan Berita: http://www.nikkanberita.com/read.cgi?id=202302062056521

Asahi Shimbun: https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASR265K4YR26UTIL01M.html