Tag Archives: Energy

G8 Action Network Meeting

International Preparation Meeting about the Lake Toyako G8 Summit

8 March, 2008 in Tokyo

Kurihara Yasushi from the Executive Office asked everyone to give their views and opinions regarding the G8.

The G8 Action Network is an open network composed of individuals and organizations who are questioning the G8 Summit itself. The Network is constructing a framework for exchange of information, designed to support many events and activities against the Summit.

Nations joining the G8 account for only 14% of the world’s population. Also, the G8 Summit is an informal meeting that does not comply with the procedures as requested by international laws. However, what is agreed there defines the movement of the world. For these reasons, we consider the G8 Summit undemocratic.

It was also pointed out that the policies carried out by the G8 are based on neo-liberalism. This is a world view holding that free trade or market liberalization could maximize profits and benefits for people. Neo-liberal proposals by the G8 have brought about many problems around the world to date.

Ogura Toshimaru from People’s Plan Study Group made a presentation about Japan’s government and its G8 activities at Lake Toyako in Hokkaido. He noted that Japan has selected global climate change and environmental problems as principal subjects for the meeting. At the same time, the government has been pushing hard to maintain the road taxes, a revenue source that continues the usual destruction of the environment. In this way, it is clearly putting forward a deceptive proposition for the G8 Summit.

Shimozawa Takashi from JANIC made a presentation about the G8 Summit NGO Forum. Even though environmental issues are at the center, he pointed out that so far, 114 NGOs are participating in the NGO Forum, which was started in January 2007. They have divided their activities into three groups: environment, poverty and human rights. It is their goal to respond to each official communique and have regular meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They also intend to participate in the April, 2008 Sherpa meeting to explain the opinions of the NGOs. There will also be a Tanabata Campaign from April to July, as well as an alternative summit in Hokkaido immediately before the G8 Summit.

Yamaura Yasuaki from Consumers Union of Japan discussed the following points:

1) The G8 has deteriorated problems such as poverty and debt through international institutions including IMF, World Bank, or WTO, in addition to FTA and EPA agreements.

2) The G8 has consistently favoured big agribusiness firms. This is not only breaking the very foundation of small-scale farmers life around the world, but also expanding production of genetically modified crops or animals.

3) The G8 has pushed ahead with deregulations, such as the privatization of public services of rail, mail or medical care. In addition, liberalization of capital investment or finance has led to chaos such as the currency crisis in Asia or the subprime loan scandal.

4) The G8 has produced instability of labour, by relaxing the standards of labour laws.

5) The G8 has put priority on corporate activities and paid no attention to environmental destruction. The G8 policy on climate change will inevitably raise new problems including acceleration of more risky or speculative carbon trading or promotion of nuclear energy.

6) The G8 countries, who formerly built colonies in many regions, bear the responsibility for numerous wars or armed conflicts, and they are major weapons exporting states as well as nuclear-weapon states.

7) In the name of terrorism, the G8 has deprived life and freedom of people and violated human rights by mobilizing domestic or overseas police and military forces, such as in Afghanistan and and Iraq.

8) The G8 never discusses gender issues, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, or socially excluded people.

Please see the G8 Action Network website for news and updates:

http://www.jca.apc.org/alt-g8/

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Official website for the G8 Summit:

http://g8-summit.town.toyako.hokkaido.jp/eng/index.html

Irradiated Food Ingredients

Are irradiated food ingredients imported into Japan? Food Safety Citizen’s Watch has more details with a report from a meeting with government officials and food companies.

Food irradiation using gamma rays etc. damages the DNA of bacteria and has sterilization effects. Food irradiation has also been used to kill insects and stop germination. The efforts to promote food irradiation are supported by Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission. The Ministry for Health, Labour and Welfare is making preparations for allowing the controversial technology to be used on spices by the end of March 2008.

Against this background, it was reported on June 1, 2007, that Kikkoman Corp. had recalled a product called SoyAct, due to the possibility of irradiation in the United States. Importing irradiated food is illegal in Japan. On November 15, a meeting was held at the Japanese Parliament with Assembly Members from several political parties, officials from the Health Ministry, and from the Food Safety Commission. The Food Irradiation Opposition Campaign Group representing consumers who oppose food irradiation was also present at the meeting.

On this occasion, it was pointed out that the biggest problem was to get factual verification whether SoyAct had been irradiated or not in the United States. After Kikkoman had announced its recall, the Ministry of Health sent a letter with questions to the US Food and Drug Administration via the US embassy on June 5, 2007. A formal reply was not received until August 24, but this lacked any details if irradiation had taken place or not. The Japanese government then made a second formal request to get factual verification, but has not yet received any reply from the United States. And only about 2% of the suspect ingredients had been recalled by Kikkoman Corp.

ADB NGO Symposium



ADB NGO Symposium (pdf)

Mr. Yasuaki Yamaura from CUJ will make a speech about demands of Japanese farmers and consumers at the Asian Development Bank NGO Forum in Kyoto, Japan on May 6, 2007.

NGO Forum on ADB (FORUM) is an Asian-led network of non-government and community-based organizations that support each other to amplify their positions on Asian Development Bank’s policies, programs, and projects affecting life forms, resources, constituents – the local communities.

From a loose network since 1992, network partners agreed in 1999 to evolve the network into an independent organization. Since then, the NGO Working Group became known as the NGO Forum on ADB. Forum was legally incorporated in the Philippines in May 2001.

Over the past decade and a half, the campaign has brought some modest yet significant gains. The ADB campaign has contributed to changes in the Bank’s policy in terms of:

* improved social and environmental guidelines for projects
* new Bank-wide lending priorities
* Bank initiatives in defining sectoral priorities on forestry, energy, population, involuntary resettlement, and information disclosure,
* a more open attitude to dialogue with NGOs and communities,
* and more recently, the Bank’s shift to poverty reduction as its “overarching framework.”

Since the NGO Working Group was created, practical lessons have been gained from the campaign experience. Whether the ADB can match its newly-enlightened policy rhetoric, however, will depend largely on the continued vigilance, monitoring and action by NGOs, public interest groups and social movements.