Asia People and Leaders Politics & Legislation Waste Management

Japan’s Visionary Leadership and the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision

The Honourable Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe, showed clear leadership and determination to solve the plastic waste problem during the G20 Summit in Osaka (28-29 June).

Japan under leadership of Mr Shinzo Abe came up with a clear and practical solution. Japan did a great and remarkable job but it may have been too ambitious for other world leaders.

Japan’s leadership was embodied in the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision”, a visionary concept to deal with marine plastic waste.

Marine Plastic waste is a problem that cannot be solved by just a few countries Abe said, adding Japan would provide assistance in waste management and human resources development in developing countries.

The G20 does not pass legally binding agreements. Unanimous consensus must be reached on the final statement. The final edited text is presented by the host nation.

Japan’s “MARINE Initiative” to Realize the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision

Toward realization of the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision” that we aim to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, which was shared at the G20 Osaka Summit, Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan will support developing countries’ efforts including their capacity building and infrastructure development in the area of waste management at the summit.
To this end, the Government of Japan has launched the “MARINE Initiative” to advance effective actions to combat marine plastic litter at a global scale focusing on:
  • Management of wastes,
  • Recovery of marine litter
  • Innovation
  • Empowerment.

Under this initiative, Japan will support empowerment in developing countries to promote waste management, recovery of marine litter, and innovation, through the following concrete policy measures.

International Cooperation including bilateral ODA and assistance through international organizations

  • Provide developing countries with a wide range of assistance through bilateral and multilateral cooperation including ODA (Official Development Assistance) and assistance through international organizations, to (1) develop capacities and institutions including waste-related legal frameworks and waste sorting/collection systems to promote waste management and “3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle),” (2) formulate national action plans to address marine litter, and (3) introduce quality environment infrastructure such as waste disposal facilities including recycling facilities and waste-to-energy plants and develop relevant human resources.
  • Provide training for 10,000 officials engaging in waste management all over the world by 2025.
  • Promote assistance for ASEAN member countries under the “ASEAN+3 Marine Plastics Debris Cooperative Action Initiative,” including awareness-raising of non-state actors such as local governments, citizens and the business sector, development of national action plans to address marine litter, and capacity-building on sound waste management and “3R” including waste-to-energy infrastructure.
  • Provide assistance and develop human resources for conducting monitoring of marine plastic litter in the Southeast Asia region.

International Operations by Japanese Companies, NGOs, and Local Governments

  • Promote international operations by Japanese companies, NGOs, and local governments through international business promotion in collaboration with the business sector and partnerships with NGOs and local governments, to facilitate export of infrastructure such as waste-management-related facilities, and innovation and technology introduction regarding plastic alternatives and recycling.
  • Advance international cooperation by industries, such as assistance for emerging countries in Asia to improve management of plastic wastes by the Japan Initiative for Marine Environment (JaIME) established by Japanese chemical industry organizations, and assistance to prevent scattering and discharge of pellets based on a memorandum of cooperation between Japanese and Chinese plastic processing industries.

Dissemination and Sharing of Best Practices

Disseminate and share best practices of the Japanese public and private sectors concerning waste management, recovery of marine litter and innovation, through relevant international conferences (UN Ocean Conference, Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific, etc.) and initiatives.

Advance sharing knowledge about measures to combat marine plastic litter with ASEAN member countries, through the establishment of the “Regional Knowledge Centre on Marine Plastic Debris.”

CLOSING REMARKS

  • Japan and its Prime Minister did a great job, but it seems to be too ambitious for some leaders who haven’t realised the urgency of this matter.
  • Japan has been politically correct not to use its soft power to impose its vision, but some believe the recent resumption of commercial whaling could be seen as a new leverage for future diplomatic negotiations.
  • Japan has officially withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) so is no longer subject to its rules. Japan’s last commercial hunt was in 1986 and it will now be resumed.
  • Japan has talked the talk and now Japan should walk the walk when it comes to solving the marine plastic pollution .
  • Japan and its Prime Minister have clearly identified bioplastics as a sustainable solution to this end.
  • Japan should become or remain the leader in Asia.

REFS