OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Japan 2010



 Highlights (Japanese) | Assessment & Recommendations | How to obtain this publication

OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Japan 2010

This report assesses Japan’s progress since the previous OECD Environmental Performance Review in 2002. It analyses the extent to which the country has met its national objectives and international commitments regarding climate change, biodiversity conservation, waste and materials management and, more generally, the management of its environment and natural resources.


The report also examines Japan’s progress in greening its economic growth patterns. The review makes 38 policy recommendations to encourage further environmental progress in Japan.


Developments since the 2002 Review

Japan has managed to reduce some of the pressures on the environment, notably energy use, air emissions, water abstractions and municipal waste generation. However, greenhouse gas emissions and generation of non-municipal waste have grown, pressures on nature and biodiversity have intensified, and air and water pollution remain of concern in some areas. Japan defined its own model of a sustainable society, based on a low-carbon economy, sound material cycle and biodiversity conservation.


Greening Growth

Following a period of modest economic growth, Japan’s economy was severely hit by the 2008-09 global economic downturn. The anti-crisis fiscal stimulus package included several environment-related measures. Reforming the tax system, expanding environmentally related taxes and removing environmentally harmful subsidies could help fiscal consolidation without hampering economic recovery.

The long-term strategy to 2020 outlines a green growth path, and sees eco-innovation as the link between environmental improvement, economic growth and social progress.

Japan is a leader in environment and climate-related technologies and is promoting the development of green markets and employment. The declining and ageing population represents a new challenge for both economic and environmental policies.


Implementation of environmental policies

Japan uses a mix of environmental policy instruments, including regulatory, economic and information-based measures, with a strong emphasis on negotiated agreements. However, its policy mix can gain in cost-effectiveness by expanding the use of market-based instruments and by further promoting wider participation of the public in environmental decision-making. The report also reviews progress in improving air management, in particular in urban areas, strengthening the management of inland and coastal waters and reducing impacts of chemicals on human health and the environment.


International co-operation

Japan is an active player in international environmental co-operation. In a changing international economic and political context, Japan has given more importance to regional and bilateral co-operation in the Asian region, notably in such areas as transboundary air pollution, fisheries management and marine pollution.

Environment is a prominent component of Japan’s development assistance.

Japan has also taken action, at home and internationally, to tackle environment-trade issues arising from multilateral environmental agreements, such as trade in ozone depleting substances and tropical timber, as well as safety and environmental impacts of ship-breaking.


Climate change

The current trends in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represent a major challenge for Japan. Rising emissions in the residential and commercial sectors have offset progress made in the manufacturing and transport sectors.

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Technological progress and negotiated agreements are distinctive features of Japan’s policy mix to abate GHG emissions. Energy, transport and climate policies are generally mutually supportive, with a focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, infrastructure development and R&D. Co-operation with developing countries and adaptation to climate change are receiving growing attention.


Waste management and the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle)

Over the last decade, Japan has shifted from a waste management policy to an integrated waste and material management approach that promotes dematerialisation and resource efficiency.

Landfill shortage and dependency on natural resources imports have been key drivers of these changes: resource productivity has increased, municipal waste generation has decreased and landfilled waste has dramatically declined. However, Japan should strengthen the extended producer responsibility system and improve the waste charging schemes to further reduce waste generation, improve cost recovery and prevent illegal dumping. With international movement of recyclables developing rapidly, loopholes have also appeared in Japan’s advanced recycling system.


Nature and biodiversity


Nature conservation is identified as a priority in Japan, and is one of the three pillars of the 2007 Sustainable Society Concept. However, biodiversity loss is increasing and greater efforts are needed to converge with good practices in other OECD countries. The report examines the management of biodiversity in protected areas and activities outside protected areas that affect species and their habitats, in particular agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

An overview of the Environmental Performance Review of Japan, with the key facts, figures and recommendations, is presented in the Highlights (Japanese).

Access the full version of Environmental Performance Reviews: Japan 2010 by choosing from the following options:


For more information please contact Ivana Capozza or Shayne MacLachlan



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