Philippines Groups Slam Japan’s Waste Colonialism

May. 02, 2007

MANILA — Environmental and civil society
groups from around the globe today blasted the Japanese government
for what they view as Japan?s sinister plot to establish waste
colonies in Asia by liberalizing trade in toxic wastes via bilateral
trade and investment treaties.

Joining the first ever global day of action (GDA) against Japanese
?waste colonialism? are over 150 concerned groups and individuals
from 40 countries, including the Philippines, who have come together
to denounce and block Tokyo?s push to link toxic waste trade with
overseas development assistance and investments.

The collaborative campaign organized by the Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Basel Action Network-Asia Pacific
(BAN-AP), Greenpeace Southeast Asia (GPSEA), Health Care Without
Harm (HCWH) and Ecowaste Coalition coincides with the celebration of
the Kenpo Kinenbi, a Japanese holiday to commemorate the enactment
of the Nihon-koku Kenpo (Constitution of Japan) that took effect on
3 May 1947.

In Manila, environmental activists satirized the famed raising of
the US flag atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in
World War II. They mounted a tableau in front of the Embassy of
Japan that saw activists dressed as Japanese bureaucrats and
merchants erecting a flag with the yen sign in a mound of trash to
illustrate Japan?s scheme to set up waste colonies in Asia.
Citizens groups in Chennai, Seoul and Taipei also gathered in front
of the Japanese foreign missions to denounce the liberalized trade
in toxic waste.

?We oppose the insertion of toxic items, many of which are globally
banned or restricted, in Japan?s economic partnership agreements
(EPAs) with neighboring countries. The zero tariff provisions for
these items will only ease toxic waste flow and legalize the
deceitful shipment of toxic wastes disguised as ?recyclable? goods
from Japan to poorer countries. We reject any scheme that will turn
our countries into toxic waste outposts and put the health and
safety of our workers and communities at great risk,? said Manny
Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, GAIA.

Participating groups endorsed a cyberpetition and sent postcards to
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reminding him that “Asia is not Japan’s
waste colony” and asking his government to stop circumventing the
provisions of multilateral environmental agreements such as the
Basel Convention, which aims to minimize the generation and
transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to ensure that their
disposal be close to the source of generation.

?The Japanese Constitution requires faithful observance by Japan of
its international obligations. Prime Minister Abe?s government CAN
NOT honorably claim faithful observance of the Basel Convention when
they actively undermine the Convention and its decisions by
arm-twisting poorer countries into taking Japanese toxic wastes,?
said Richard Gutierrez, Director, BAN-AP.

The groups asked the governments of Japan, Philippines, Thailand and
other Asian governments to remove all toxic items and other
exploitative provisions in their respective EPAs, and to ratify the
Basel Convention?s Ban Amendment, which prohibits exports of
hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for any
purpose, including recycling.

Organizers will also forward copies of their petition to the World
Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and other appropriate
governmental and inter-governmental agencies.

The idea of organizing the GDA against Japanese ?waste colonialism?
came to light in January this year at the GAIA-sponsored Waste Not
Asia meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India where activists
resolved to campaign against the looming toxic threats from the
Japan EPAs.

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