Two people dressed as penguins hold a banner saying save us from climate change in a Japanese city

Friends of the Earth Japan, created in 1980, was one of Japan’s first NGOs to work on international environmental problems. Learn more about the wide range of activities they work on.

Our nuclear and energy program is a big priority. The program’s aims include the phase-out of nuclear power and the realization of an “energy shift” by promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011, responding to strong public pressure, the former administration announced a plan to phase out nuclear energy by the 2030s. But when the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in December 2012, it was not long before the discussions returned to the status quo, the nuclear phase-out policy was repealed and the citizens’ voices were ignored.

However, most people in Japan still support a phase-out. Friends of the Earth Japan, coordinating an NGO and citizen’s network called “e-shift”, played an important role conveying these public sentiments to the Japanese government with our “public comment campaign” during the summer of 2012. In cooperation with other citizens’ groups, FoE Japan has been engaged as a lead group in a public campaign focusing on the economic benefits of phasing out nuclear power. It is called the “Zeronomics campaign”, parodying “Abenomics” (the pro-nuclear economic policy of Prime Minister Abe).

FoE Japan has also served as a watchdog for the newly established Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in 2012, which is in charge of establishing new regulations for the restart of nuclear power plants and disaster readiness plans, etc. Because of FoE Japan’s contribution in raising the issue of the seismic fault zone under the Oi Nuclear Power Plant, several parliamentarians and experts also conducted their own research on the issue and gave their findings to the NRA. FoE Japan has established the Civil Association for Observation of Nuclear Regulation in order to constantly monitor the NRA’s activity and hold it accountable.

FoE Japan also contributed to the establishment of the Children and TEPCO Nuclear Disaster Victims’ Support Act, which was enacted in June 2012. The Act has not fully entered into force, but FoE Japan serves as secretariat of the Citizens’ Forum for the Children and Victims’ Support Act. This is a nationwide network of victims, evacuees, support organizations, lawyers, and local politicians. The Forum aims to realize the full implementation of the Act.

We also advocated to reduce the risks of exposure to low-dose radiation by calling for changes to the methodology of the Fukushima Health Management Survey and asking the Japanese government to take more responsibility for residents’ health care by adopting the precautionary principle. FoE Japan established the Citizen-Expert Committee on Radiation Exposure and Health Management, which is an independent committee for realizing a better health care system for victims of nuclear accidents.

In addition, FoE Japan, in collaboration with other citizen’s groups, has tried to show an alternative approach to reducing risks of low-dose radiation, by implementing a pilot project, called Fukushima Poka-Poka Project, for children from the contaminated areas.

Another facet of our clean energy work has been to campaign against the Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) investment in coal fired power plants. JBIC provides public finance to many countries and has recently been pouring money into coal-fired power plants. Considering the vast negative impacts on the environment and the climate, we are working with local people and NGOs in affected countries to insist that JBIC stops assistance for coal-fired power plants.

We also made a documentary film focusing on a REDD plus project in Indonesia. The documentary explains the negative impacts on communities caused by REDD plus projects. The aim of the documentary is to tell Japanese people, especially those who wish to implement REDD plus projects in developing countries, that REDD, as a scheme to reduce carbon emissions, creates a lot of conflicts on the ground and does not effectively reduce carbon emissions. Industrialized countries such as Japan should strengthen measures to reduce carbon emissions in our own countries not in other countries.

Related to climate change, we took action on Penguin day by launching an awareness campaign.

Major timber consuming countries like the USA, EU and Australia have worked hard to strengthen regulations that prevent and mitigate the importation of illegally harvested timber and timber products into their markets. Unfortunately, Japan is now a bottleneck for those efforts. This means that Japan’s solution for tackling illegal logging is to promote the purchase of “GO-HO (legal) wood” but this measure does not function well and is becoming a loophole for other countries regulations. For instance, China is a major supplier country for the USA, EU and Japan and is a conduit for timber from Papua New Guinea, Sarawak, Malaysia, Indonesia and Russia, which are considered as high risk timber supplier countries or regions. While the USA and EU are approaching China in order to mitigate the illegally harvested timber trade between them, if Japan does not get into step with them, Japan will be a great market for “high risk timber” from all over the world.

We are putting pressure on the Government of Japan to give this issue immediate and serious attention. We are also lobbying MPs to launch new and tighter laws to preventing illegal timber imports.