2003 JAPAN LAW: WASTE MANAGEMENT
Keywords: Environmental Law, Industrial Waste Disposal, Waste Management,
Pollution, Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law
Copyright 2004. All rights reserved Attorney Roderick H. Seeman
For failing to dispose of 2240 cubic meters of wastes, 4 times greater than
its permit, the Osaka police searched the offices of Eidai Kaihatsu Co. for
violation of the Industrial Waste Disposal Law. The police were also planning
to arrest the company’s president. The company had been given warnings repeatedly.
A report by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor had it that 80% of
hospitals do not adequately store hazardous materials separately under lock
and key as required by the Poisonous Material Control Law, even storing them
in some cases on shelves next to medicines. The report noted that such handling
could lead to some patients being poisoned.
On the border of the Aomori and Iwate prefectures are located 820,000 cubic
meters of industrial waste. Most of the waste came from metropolitan Tokyo
which is located hundreds of kilometers away. The prefectures did nothing
for five years while the mountains of waste grew. Until the year 2000 when
the waste handlers were arrested. The officials were assured that the waste
would be reprocessed. With wastes such as dioxin the dumps cleanup costs
were estimated at billions of yen. The dumpers were legally responsible for
the cleanup costs, but they were financially weak and the expenses immense.
They went bankrupt. The Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law purports
the principle that polluters must pay, in other words, the ones who produced
the waste are also liable. The prefectures are planning on issuing administrative
orders to get the producers to clean up the dump. The problem is tracking
down the waste producers. From the records of the waste handling companies
they have a list of 10,000 of their customers. Government officials hope
that these actions will not only help prevent such waste dumping but also
increase concern among waste producers about in what manner their waste is
The Environment Ministry estimated that in one recent year, 11 million tons
of waste were shipped out of Tokyo to rural areas.
In February 2003 new legislation went into effect to check for and cleanup
pollution around abandoned factories that are being converted into residential
or commercial uses.
The City of Kyoto is seeking an ordinance that would make it possible to
even go so far as building barricades to prevent the dumping of industrial
waste. It is expected to go into effect in April 2004, It would be the first
such city ordinance in Japan. Land which will be used for holding industrial
waste will have to be registered. Shippers will be required to carry bills
of lading indicating what they were carrying. Violators will be fined 300,000
yen to one million yen as well as a possible prison term of 6 months to a
year. The prefectural government of Kyoto had earlier enacted similar legislation
in April 2003, but it did not apply inside the city of Kyoto itself.