July 16, 2001 – On a TV talkshow yesterday, Japanís Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi suggested that countries would not agree on operational rules to implement the Kyoto treaty until late October. Negotiations have been in a state of crisis since US President Bush abandoned the treaty in March.

While almost all other industrialised countries have expressed their intention to ratify the treaty without the US, Japans ambiguous position has enabled it to exploit the casting vote, thereby jeopardising ten years of tough negotiations. In order for Kyoto to enter into force, countries representing 55% of industrialised countriesí emissions must ratify the treaty.

When Prime Minister Koizumi met the US president at Camp David last month, he insisted that Japan would keep trying to convince the US to reverse its position. However, at the first meeting of the newly established US-Japan climate bilateral held on 13 July, the US administration reiterated unequivocally that it has no intention to come back.

Prime Minister Koizumiís position is a dangerous contradiction. He says Japan will uphold its commitment to entry into force of the Protocol by 2002 while delaying agreement by trying to get President Bush to abandon his unequivocal opposition to the treaty. Parties must not be distracted by Bushs attempts to scupper the Protocol. Unless the Japanese government now states its intention ratify the treaty without the US, the chance for meaningful international action on climate change could be lost and blame will lie squarely with Japan,í says Kate Hampton of Friends of the Earth International.

The Japanese premier fails to grasp the urgency of this issue. In the upcoming elections, he hopes the Japanese people will trust him to tackle the difficult challenges the nation faces today, particularly economic reform. But if he cannot face up to climate change, how can we trust him on other issues? The Kyoto treaty is a small first step to reduce our climate impact. The Prime Minister must clarify the doubt on his commitment right now says Yuri Onodera, Friends of the Earth Japan.

Friends of the Earth members in Finland have today staged a demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy in Helsinki. Demonstrators carrying banners in English, Japanese and Finnish urge Japan to ratify the Kyoto Protocol without the US. The fate of the Kyoto Protocol now lies in the hands of Japan. Koizumi must act now and save the Kyoto,í says Oras Tynkkynen, Friends of the Earth Finland.

The resumed UN climate talks started today in Bonn, Germany.

Contacts in Bonn:
Kate Hampton, Friends of the Earth International, +447748967323
Yuri Onodera, Friends of the Earth Japan, +447748967323
Oras Tynkkynen, Friends of the Earth Finland, +358405882594