Excerpts from the interview with Minister of the Environment Koichi Yamamoto follow:
Q: Do you plan to attend the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), which will be held in Morocco in November?
Yamamoto: I think so. Japan is one of the countries that are taking the initiative in combating global warming. We need to show the world how we will deliver on our pledges (to cut greenhouse gas emissions).
Q: Global warming has been attracting a great deal of attention of late.
Yamamoto: The issue was not widely acknowledged when I attended the COP 3 (in Kyoto as parliamentary vice minister for the environment). Now, my constituency (Ehime Prefecture) is as warm as Sicily and can produce blood oranges, but we are facing tougher competition in the production of our key produce of mandarin oranges. The northern limit for the production has moved upward. During the COP meeting held at the end of last year, the Paris accord was adopted with the participation of all countries. Now every country is on a level playing field.
Q: How do you plan to respond to the new construction of coal-fired thermal plants, which are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions?
Yamamoto: We cannot deny the fact that some fields have little choice but to rely on coal-fired thermal plants. But Europe and the U.S. have already implemented stringent rules, which may become a global standard. If coal-fired plants are constructed for use for several decades and they can be only used for ten years, this would be a great waste. As a leading environmentally-friendly nation, Japan should not do things that will embarrass it.
Q: Public distrust toward the Ministry of the Environment is growing, as the acquisition of sites to store radioactive substances released in the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has hit a snag.
Yamamoto: We are stepping up efforts to acquire land. When I was briefed by my predecessor Tamayo Marukawa, 90 percent of our talks focused on Fukushima issues. I hope to visit Fukushima more often and work harder to build stronger people-to-people ties there than she did.