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My determination to ‘charge for plastic shopping bags’

投稿日:2019年11月3日 更新日:

The Japanese government’s plan on ‘charging for plastic shopping bags’ has come to be discussed in earnest. The third joint meeting of a small committee on the plan developed by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was held on November 1. According to the minutes of the meeting, which are open to the public, the meeting reviewed and approved a draft report on the plan. First of all, the meeting decided that ‘charging for plastic shopping bags’ will be put into practice on July 1, 2020, just before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games which will be held next summer. Specifically, they agreed to the revisions of the purpose and system proposed in the said plan. While the revisions of the purpose are formulated based on the concept of resources circulation strategy for plastics, newly required revisions in the system under the current Containers and Packaging Recycling Law are described in each of the following items: 1) plastic shopping bags based on 3R +Renewable; 2) price setting; 3) industries to which this plan will be applied; 4) consideration for small and medium-sized business operators; 5) timing of implementation; and 6) the follow-up of the implementation of the plan.

It was also decided at this meeting that the plan will be opened for public comment, and then it will be redrafted in the form of the ministerial ordinance. The fourth joint committee will follow and the plan will be discussed and finalized, if possible by the end of December.

Prior to the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth in Karuizawa Town, Nagano Prefecture, which was held last June concurrently with the G20 Osaka Summit, marine plastic pollution became serious all over the world. Thus, ‘charging for plastic shopping bags’ became one of the key themes both at the ministerial meeting and the summit. Through the sessions on environmental issues at both meetings, ‘charging for plastic shopping bags’ was regarded as an indispensable countermeasure against marine plastic pollution.

I dare to say that ‘charging for plastic shopping bags’ was decided under my leadership as the then Minister of the Environment. I learned that many countries had already introduced the charge, and in Japan, Toyama Prefecture had been charging for plastic bags across the prefecture since 2008. At the press conference on June 3, I announced that mandatory charging will be applied to plastic shopping bags, and that the necessary legal arrangements will be made. As for the charging system, we will follow the example of Toyama Prefecture in principle. A minister has strong authority which enables him/her to implement any plan if he/she is determined to take political responsibility for what he/she has said. I made this decision with a strong sense of commitment.

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