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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.28 (April 23, 2009)

"Leading the world in the low-carbon emission revolution"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

Last Sunday, I participated in a test-drive event for eco-cars such as electric cars and hybrid cars, together with 100 people comprising 30 groups of parents and young children.

A white cloth exposed to the exhaust gases of a clean diesel car did not get covered in black soot. I was impressed with how environmentally-friendly clean diesel cars are. I have strengthened my desire for eco-cars to be the norm by the time the children who took part in the event are adults themselves.

Global warming is a significant issue we in the 21st Century must overcome. The low-carbon emission revolution is a revolution to overcome this challenge with new technologies and by reforming social systems.

Some people associate environmental measures with restrictions. However, I think of them as a great opportunity for us to leap forward in the future.

Japan, poor in natural resources and energy, faced serious crises during the first and second oil shocks. Nevertheless, the Japanese people banded together and transformed the nation into the world's leading nation in energy-saving technologies. Japan's energy efficiency is now twice that of the United States and 1.7 times that of Europe. I firmly believe that this time as well Japan can provide the spark to develop new industries and create new jobs.

Recently, I announced the Future Development Strategy, a mid- to long-term growth strategy geared towards 2020. The first pillar of this strategy is to lead the world in the low-carbon emission revolution.

We will carry out the Plan to be the Number One Solar Power Nation in the World to increase the electrical output from solar power to 20 times the current level by 2020. This is the equivalent in scale to introducing solar power generation to 8 million households. Japan will assume the world's number one position in solar power generation. We will also carry out the Plan to be the First Nation that Popularizes Eco-Cars, attempting to make one out of every two new cars an eco-car.

It is also important for the world as a whole, and Japan as well, to set reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Hokkaido Toyako Summit last year, Japan proposed halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, leading the world in discussions to that end. For its part, Japan is committed to its long-term goal of reducing, by 2050, 60-80% of its current level of emissions.

An international conference will be convened at the end of the year in Copenhagen with a goal of establishing a replacement for the current international framework, the Kyoto Protocol. It is necessary that every major nation participate in the new framework. For my part, I will actively call on nations for their participation. Discussions will take place at the conference on mid-term reduction targets for around 2020.

Japan itself must identify clearly the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it aims to reduce, measures that it will take to achieve the target, and impacts these measures will have on the people's daily lives.

Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions does not only affect the environment. It also has significant impacts on economic activity, and the people's daily lives in general, including household income, utility costs, and employment. It is an issue facing more than just specific sectors such as industries and environmental non-government organizations (NGOs). It is one which the people as awhole must address. Accordingly, we have asked a group of experts to conduct scientific analyses and present six options that identify comprehensively the amount of reduction and the costs incurred, among other matters.

I would like to advance the national debate about which of these options are the most desirable, based on the results of the analyses. I request your active involvement in presenting your ideas, such as in public comments and in meetings for dialogue with the people.

After hearing the people's opinions, I intend to determine our mid-term goal by June of this year at the latest. We will lead the world by using technologies for which the world looks to Japan and by making innovative reduction efforts.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Taro Aso
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jun Matsumoto
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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