I attended the sixth session of the budget committee in the House of Representatives concerning the environment which was held on February 25. In this session, some of the actions which I took as the former Minister of the Environment in October 2018–September 2019, were appreciated by Minister of the Environment Shinjiro Koizumi and surprisingly, by several members of the opposition parties as well. Specifically, they referred to my following actions:
- The Yokosuka coal-fired power plant composed of two modern generating units with each capacity of 650 MW was planned to be constructed replacing all the existing obsolete oil-fired units. In August 2019, JERA, a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), started the construction, and it is still under way. I once requested the presidents of TEPCO and JERA respectively to suspend the construction of the plant. My negotiations with them did not work out well, but at least, it became the trigger for Japan’s policy to control the construction of coal-fired power plants. Since Yokosuka City was my former electoral district, I had in fact difficulties in tackling this issue but I did what I could. In the above-mentioned sixth session, the discussion between Mr. Makoto Yamazaki, who belongs to the Constitutional Democratic Party, and Minister Koizumi was very informative to me. Mr. Yamazaki had a keen interest in achieving the goal of ‘carbon neutral’ in 2050 in a global perspective of the environmental protection;
- In a session on the environment held in May 2019, Mr. Tomohiro Yara, who belongs to the Constitutional Democratic Party, reported that fluorine-based organic compounds such as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were found to be leaking from the US military base in Okinawa, and it became a big issue among the residents living around the base. In response to his request, I immediately contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense and requested field surveys. The scope of the survey later expanded and was conducted throughout the country, and now we have regulations on those compounds; and
- Since promoting the welfare of animals is one of the activities of Ministry of the Environment, I made the best efforts to protect animals when I served as the Minister of the Environment. Mr. Seiichi Kushida, who belongs to ‘Nippon Ishin no Kai’ (The party does not have an official English name, but the Japan Restoration Party is generally used.) has extraordinary passion and mission to promote the welfare of animals. In the sixth session mentioned in the opening paragraph, he appealed to Minister Koizumi that animal euthanasia numbers are decreasing considerably, but that further measures to enable them to live their whole lives peacefully should be taken.
I am glad that my actions as the former Minister of the Environment were raised as good examples, and it would be an honor if they inspired Minister Koizumi’s further efforts. I was tackling many issues at that time, and about one and a half years have passed since then. There are issues which got lost in my memory, but when I see my successor and several members of the opposition parties appreciating my past actions, it reminds me that I did a good job. It makes me proud and serves as powerful encouragement.