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Activists protest Japan’s controversial coal financing during Prime Minister Abe's visit

Posted Mar. 31, 2016 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe visits the U.S. this week, activists rallied outside the Japanese Embassy earlier this afternoon to highlight the growing concern and international pushback against Japan’s increasingly isolated support for domestic and overseas coal projects. Protests will also take place tomorrow in Tokyo and Jakarta to demand that Japan stop financing coal projects in Japan, Indonesia, and around the world. Protesters at each event will deliver a letter with these demands signed by over 220 groups from 43 countries, including Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar,and  South Africa. Groups will continue to put pressure on Japan to end its fossil fuel financing in the lead up to Japan hosting the G7 summit in May.

Despite many countries shifting away from these unprofitable coal projects, including OECD coal finance restrictions, Japan has continued to move backward by supporting both domestic coal projects and financing some of the most controversial coal projects around the globe. One of those projects, the Batang coal-fired power plant, has been plagued by human rights abuses. Despite this, as the April 6 deadline to secure financing for the project gets closer, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation -- JBIC -- is once again considering financing the project.

“The Batang community in Indonesia has been subjected to various human rights violations, including intimidation, violence, and arbitrary arrest at the hands of the army and the police,” said Hozue Hatae, a researcher for Friends of the Earth Japan’s Public Finance and Environment program. “As the Batang project obviously failed to comply with JBIC environment and social guidelines, which require the social acceptability and appropriate participation from the affected community, JBIC must reject using our public money for the project. Also, Prime Minister Abe has set ‘Export of Quality Infrastructure’ as one of the main agendas for G7 Summit. He should show the firm intention to the world that Japan will implement ‘quality’ projects abroad by respecting human rights and rejecting projects like the Batang coal plant.”

“Japan continues to finance coal and natural gas projects abroad and increase reliance on fossil fuels domestically,” said Kate DeAngelis, international policy analyst at Friends of the Earth U.S. “If Japan hopes to meet its emission reduction commitments to do its fair share to prevent a deadly increase in global temperatures, it needs to shift its financing from fossil fuels and nuclear to renewables. As the host of the G7 this year, Japan must confront its continued financing of and dependence on fossil fuels and commit to transitioning to clean and sustainable energy sources.”

“It is unconscionable that Japan would continue to finance any project linked to human rights abuses, let alone a project like Batang that is unquestionably dangerous and unnecessary,” said Nicole Ghio, senior campaigner for the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy Campaign. “With global momentum growing for clean energy and away from fossil fuels, there is no excuse for Japan to continue financing any coal project anywhere.”

“While the rest of the world is shifting rapidly away from dirty coal projects, Japan remains stuck in the past," said Alex Doukas, senior campaigner at Oil Change International. "Under Prime Minister Abe, Japan is propping up risky and heavily polluting coal plants like Batang with public funds. Abe's government has wasted more public money on overseas coal projects than any other G7 country. The pressure is on Japan, this year’s G7 president, to stop pushing dirty coal on the world."

For photos of today’s protest, click here.

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Expert contacts:
Alex Doukas, Oil Change International, (202) 817-0357, alex@priceofoil.org
Kate DeAngelis, Friends of the Earth U.S., (202) 222-0747, kdeangelis@foe.org
Cindy Carr, Sierra Club, (202) 495-3034, cindy.carr@sierraclub.org

Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

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