I signed my resignation letter at the extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet which was held yesterday, and retired from my role as Minister of the Environment which I had served for eleven and a half months. I have nothing to look back on with regret. My role has been handed over to Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi today. A year sounds like a long time, but it went by so fast. As there are so many political challenges to address, I will continue to be engaged in environmental issues as a Diet member and put my heart into it as my lifework.
Memories of the events in which I have been involved during the past year have rushed back into my mind like shadow pictures of a Japanese revolving lantern. Those events included the promotion of the Paris Agreement, COP24, G20 Environmental Ministers’ Conference, G20 Summit, regulations on marine plastic pollution, introducing plastic bag charge, non-fossil fuel usage, regulations on the coal-fired power generation, visit to Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, welfare and management of animals, and visit to national parks. In particular, many private companies have come to promote the virtuous cycle between environment and economy adopting a criteria of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and green economy which is composed of low carbon, resource efficiency and social inclusiveness initially announced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). I have tackled the issue of the coal-fired power generation with my utmost effort, and participated in recovery and restoration activities of Fukushima Prefecture, and in addition, I have continued to think about the possibility of discharging the treated water stored at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi, my successor, is a young and promising politician who attracts many people’s attention. He is widely regarded by the people as a prospective future prime minister. I am convinced that he will provide a breath of fresh air into the Ministry of the Environment. He will surely contribute to the Ministry’s efforts to enhance the image of environmental administration. I would like to express my gratitude to him for taking over my role, and look forward to further development of environmental administration.