Basic Law on Recyclable Society
New Komeito was instrumental in the 2000 passage of a law that established a legal framework facilitating Japan's transition to a fully recyclable, zero-waste society. Its adoption spawned follow-on laws-which we also proactively endorsed-that mandated the recycling of products made by the consumer electronics, automotive and food industries. These laws also required the recycling of containers, and packaging and construction materials.
Shift to Renewable Energy
Another foundational piece of legislature that our party served to drive forward was a law requiring electric power companies to utilize renewable energy sources-including solar, wind and biomass power-to generate a portion of their total electric power output. Effective from 2002, the law seeks to reduce the nation's carbon footprint and lessen its impact on global warming.
Reducing Japan's Carbon Footprint
In May 2007, a law was passed requiring the national and local governments to factor in carbon dioxide emissions in addition to price, in their procurement of products and electric power. The law aims to raise private sector awareness in reducing greenhouse gases, and stipulates that basic government guidelines be developed and that the degree of compliance be publicly released each year. New Komeito was among the first parties to call for such a system, and served as a key agent in facilitating the law's adoption by the Liberal Democratic Party and Democratic Party of Japan.
Halting Dioxin Emissions
In 2002, Japan reduced by 90 percent emissions of dioxin compounds generated by waste disposal incinerator plants. The initiative was originally developed by New Komeito municipal legislators and adopted by Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture, in 1997. It led to national regulation in 1999, which required a 90-percent reduction within three years.
New Komeito was among the first in Japan to give political voice to roof greening as a means to lessen the "heat island" phenomenon in metropolitan areas, partnering with the coalition government in a national program to roor-green public facilities and privately owned buildings. We also provided tax incentives for owners of tracts in urban areas to preserve the natural environment.
Assistance for Asbestos Victims
New Komeito played a central role in the coalition government establishing a relief program for victims of a mass asbestos poisoning case that first came to light in May 2005. We secured funding in fiscal 2005 and 2006 to provide medical and financial aid, and to mount clean-up operations at contaminated sites.
Relief Initiative for Dioxin Victims
New Komeito partnered with its coalition partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, in a relief initiative for victims of a dioxin-related food poisoning case. Under the initiative, victims would be exempted of previously incurred medical expenses and be provided with a one-time solatium; the government also agreed to fund research to cure the affliction. First identified in 1968 in western Japan, some 1,300 people had been diagnosed with the so-called "oil syndrome" poisoning, which victims ingested as tainted cooking oil. But their affliction was largely neglected by previous administrations. Our party first brought national attention to their plight in 2001, and worked closely with the victims association and Chikara Sakaguchi, presently New Komeito vice representative who served as health minister at the time, to secure ministerial recognition that the syndrome was caused by dioxin poisoning and to devise an appropriate relief package.