TED Case Studies

Japan Air Pollution

     CASE NUMBER:        254
     CASE NAME:          Japan Air Pollution

A.   Identification


Acid Rain has been a constant threat to the world's environment
since the age of industrialization but only recently it has become
a major concern across the globe, particularly among the
industrialized nations--"with damaged trees, corroded buildings and
dead lakes highlighting the urgency of remedial measures."  
Through a variety of regulations and enforced laws countries have
been taking serious action to try to defeat the problem of acid
rain.  However, it appears that this has become more of a problem
for the Asian countries particularly Japan and China (China more so
than Japan) who are seen as the culprits in emitting toxic gases
into the atmosphere threatening: forestation, air and water in the
Asian continent.  Research has shown however that China is more at
fault than Japan.

2.   Description

Japan's laws and regulations when it comes to the emission of
sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides such as nitrogen (NOX) that cause
rain to acidify "are among the strictest in the world."  So why
is the rain as acidic today as it has ever been?  The reason
perhaps is a result of China's overwhelming use of coal burning
machines which appear to be emitting toxins into the atmosphere
thus being a major contributor to Japan's acid rain problem
("responsible for half of Japan's acid rain").  But this has not
been proven as of yet.  The Japanese industry is trying to conduct
a scientific research to prove that China is responsible for acid
precipitations in Northeast Asia and to perhaps encourage them "to
install sulfur oxide-trapping equipment in its coal-burning power
stations and industrial plants."

"East Asia's acid rain problems, including Japan's are known to be
worsening at a serious pace, but lack of coordination among
the countries in the region has made it difficult to pinpoint its
causes, with no country acknowledging responsibility.  

 Scientists point to China as the region's major contributor, but
Beijing has not admitted to this."  The biggest producer of SO2
emissions in Asia is China which is accounted for approximately as
many as 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide emissions per year for
1987 and 1988 combined in comparaison to 32 million tons for the
entire Asian continent.  The other major producers of the emission
of sulfur dioxide in Asia are India, South Korea, and Japan in
decending order.  It appears that the formation of Acid Rain in
Asia is coming from two sources:

     1.)  Motor vehicles which "are the primary source of
     acid-forming pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, and are
     responsible for growing levels of ground-level ozone, a
     substance which hastens the formation of acid rain."
     2.)  Coal burning power stations which emit toxins such
     as Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) into
     the atmoshpere.  

SO2 and NOx are the primary pollutants and CFC's
(chloroflouocarbons) and the corrosive ground-level ozone are the
secondary pollutants that pose a threat to "global ecosystems and
human health."  Today there are various laws, regulations and
treaties being enforced but the problem is there is little effort
being made to actually act upon these rules.  The main issue  for
the Asian countries is to try and pinpoint who the real culprit is
in the creation of acid rain.

The acid rain problem is still a developing issue in Asia so it is
a little premature to say whether or not there has been anything
done to combat the problem (treaties have been put on the table but
nothing concrete has come about).  For instance, Japan and China
signed a treaty March 20, 1994 which called for efforts to try and
combat the acid rain problem "through increased Japanese
environmental technology transfers to Beijing."

3.   Related Cases 

     CHINACOAL case
     KORPOLL case
     SULFUR case
     ECCO2 case

     Keyword Clusters    
     (1): Forum                    = JAPAN
     (2): Bio-geography            = TEMPerate
     (3): Environmental Problem    = Pollution Air [POLA]

4.   Draft Author: Alyssa Bleck

B.   Legal Cluster

5.   Discourse and Status: DISagree and INPROGress

One major agreement made recently between China and Japan (March
20, 1994) called "for efforts to combat global environmental
problems through increased Japanese environmental technology
transfers to Beijing."  The problem is most of these agreements
are not as of yet in effect.

6.   Forum and Scope: China and REGION

7.   Decision Breadth: 5

The bilateral agreements made between Japan and China, now in
progress, could cause a reduction in the acid rain problem in areas
of Northeast Asia.  Measures have been taken by ASEAN countries for
instance which have been looking for outside help particularly from
Japan and U.S. who  may be able to help balance China's regional
influence and thus  control their use of coal burning machines.
In addition: "The gulf between legislation and enforcement is
highlighted... by a table of pollution prevention legislation in 21
Asian and Pacific countries."

8.   Legal Standing: LAW

There have been gradual steps made to try to solve the problem such
as the Automobile NOx Volume Reduction Law.  The automobile NOx
Volume Reduction Law was legislated more than a year ago to combat
acid rain and health problems suffered by urban dwellers.  The
government allowed a one-year grace period for its enforcement.
For the most part no concrete law has been really issued.


9.   Geographic Locations

     a.  Geographic Domain:   Asia
     b.  Geographic Site:     East Asia
     c.  Geographic Impact:   China

10.  Sub-National Factors: NO

The case of the Automobile NOx Volume Reduction Law (given under
the title heading Legal Standing) is being enforced separately from
the overall Japanese government by municipalities such as the Tokyo
Metropolitan Government "which aims to reduce the area's NOx
emissions by as much as 36.5% by year 2000, compared with 1990.   

11.  Type of Habitat: TEMPerate

D.   Trade Filters

12.  Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]

13.  Direct vs. Indirect: DIRect

Acid rain is produced mostly by the overuse of coal-burning
machines in China.  Particularly in the winters Japan is mostly
effected because winds are strong and thus pick up particles
carrying them to the Japanese area.

14.  Relation of Trade Measure to Resource Impact

     a.  Directly Related: No
     b.  Indirectly Related: No
     c.  Not Related:  No
     d.  Process:  Yes

15.  Trade Product Identification: MANY

16.  Economic Data

Japan and China are in the process of increasing their spending on
environmental issues.  For instance, Japan's "global
environment-related spending will increase 6 percent from the
previous fiscal year.  Environmental activities will receive 566.18
billion yen (US$ 5.44 billion) in fiscal 1994."  As for China,
it is seeking loans from Japan for the 1996 fiscal year at the
amount of $14.3 billion.  Japan is hoping that this loan money will
be used for environmental projects.

17.  Impact of Trade Restriction: LOW

18.  Industry Sector: COAL

19.  Exporter and Importer: CHINA and MANY


20.  Environmental Problem Type: Pollution Air [POLA]

     In the past 20 years Japan has seen the deterioration of
trees, particularly, pine and fir trees.  Scientists have detected
an unusual active growth of pine bugs, and thus believed that these
pine bugs were the cause of the withering trees.  However, in
recent studies, Scientists now believe that the damage to these
trees is a "direct effect of acid precipitations and that the
growth of bugs was induced by the acid." 

21.  Species Information

22.  Impact and Effect: LOW and SCALE

23.  Urgency and Lifetime: LOW and 100s of Years

24.  Substitutes:  Conservation [CONSV]


25.  Culture: NO

26.  Human Rights:  YES

     The toxins in the air emitted by coal burning machines are
effecting people's health.  "The direct effects of acid rain upon
human health have not yet been fully identified.  However, clear
evidence does exist on the health effects and risks from many of
the individual components that form the acid cocktail."  Infants,
the elderly, and pregnant women who suffer from lung and heart
illnesses as a result of acid rain precipitations are particularly
the most vulnerable.  Pollution alerts are common in many
countries especially the U.K., U.S., and Japan to name a few.

     "Those at risk are advised to avoid strenuous exercise or to
      stay indoors; when pollution is particularly bad, local 
      authorities may temporarily close down polluting factories
      or halt car use."

27.  Trans-Boundary Issues: YES

     Acid rain and other pollutants are a widespread problem across
the global atmosphere.  The use of coal burning power plants is
taking place everywhere not just in China.  Thus, the emission of
toxins, such as SO2 and NOx into the atmoshpere cannot be blamed
solely on China.  There has to be a crackdown on the acid rain
problem on a global persepective not just regionally.

28.  Relevant Literature

International Environment Reporter Current Report, Japanese
Committee at Work to Establish East Asia Network for Monitoring
Acid Rain; April 20, 1994, Vol. 17, No.8; pg. 357.

International Environment Reporter Current Report, China, Japan
Sign Treaty to Cooperate on Fighting Global Environment Problems;
April 6, 1994, Vol.17, No.6; pg.323.

International Environment Reporter Current Report, Reversals in
Policy, Attitude Urged to Combat Effects of Projected Urbanization;
November 17, 1993, Vol. 16, No. 23; Pg. 846.

International Environment Reporter Current Report, Government
Begins Enforcement of New Law to Curb Nitrogen Oxide Emissions;
December 15, 1993, Vol, 16, No.25; Pg. 943.

International Environment Reporter Current Report, Acid Rain
Spreading From Northeast Asia to Japanese Island of Kyushu, Study
Finds; May 18, 1994, Vol. 17, No. 10; pg. 429.

International Environment Reporter Current Report, Large Parts of
Asia Threatened by Acid Rain, Bank Study Finds; January 11, 1995,
Vol. 18, No.1; Pg. 18.

International Environment Reporter Current Report, Spending on
Environmental Activities to Increase by 6 Percent in Fiscal 1994;
September, 22, 1993, Vol. 16, No. 19; Pg. 683.

McHarry, Jan.  "Acid Rain and Transport: Some Legislative Aspects."

The Economist.  "Acid Rain and Japan: Passing the Buck."  August
21, 1993, v328 n7825, pp.68-69. 

The Washington Quarterly.  January, 1994.

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