Japan to tighten export policy on coal-fired power plants: minister

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will launch a review by the end of June aimed at tightening conditions for the export of coal-fired power plants, environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi attends a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

The move follows global criticism over the Japanese government’s support for building coal-fired plants in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as the roll-out of new plants in Japan.

Koizumi, son of former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and tipped as a future prime minister himself, said in December that global criticism of his country’s “addiction to coal” was hitting home, but warned he had yet to win wider support to reduce backing for fossil fuels.

On Tuesday, he said the environment ministry had agreed the review with other ministries, including the finance ministry and the powerful industry ministry, which has traditionally held more sway over coal policy.

The discussions will form an outline for Japan’s new infrastructure export policy to be mapped out in December, he told a news conference.

Under its current policy, Japan supports coal-fired power plant projects if and when a country which needs to choose coal as a power source requests Japan to provide its highly-efficient coal power technology.

“The international community sees Japan as not moving an inch on this, so whether we take action or not will mean a lot,” said Koizumi, who took over as environment minister last September.

In climate talks in Madrid last December, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to stop building new coal plants after 2020 as part of a drive to meet the temperature goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Japan, a big financier of new coal plants in Southeast Asia, is seen as an outlier among industrialized countries as it is the only G7 nation still be building coal-fired plants at home.

“Japan used to be an advanced country in environmental strategy, but it’s no longer seen that way,” Koizumi said. “I want to help revive the image even by a little bit.”

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Richard Pullin