Friday, May 23, 2014

FDI and the Export of Polluting Industries

An interesting article was posted on Academia today - "Japan's Global Environmentalism: Rhetoric and Reality".

It was a bit dated (1998) but the topic dealt with a time-period when I worked with Japanese ODA, and of how Japan deliberately advocating high-tech solutions to environmental problems in developing countries simply in order to maximize purchases of capital-intensive technology and high-tech production services from Japan.

Numerous I-wish-I-knew-that-before points turned up, for instance -


  • The disastrous and ultimately aborted Narmada Dam project of theWorld Bank was closely linked to hydroelectric facilities funded by Japanese ODA (Kuroda, 1992).
  • Japanese environmental problems have been transferred along with FDI in mining and manufacturing operations to developing countries like Malaysia and the Philippines (Harada, 1991; Kojima, 1994;Nester, 1990; Ofreneo, 1993; Ui, 1989).
  • Kawasaki’s transfer of its iron ore sintering plant to the Philippines after environmental lawsuits were filed by local citizens near the original location in ChibaCity, Japan (Yokoyama, 1992).
  • Japanese-made pollution filters do not work because the energy inputs are from low-grade coal, instead of the higher-quality fuels domestic Japanese corporations use. Therefore, dirty industries have been transferred overseas without the environmentally cleaner—but more expensive—technology which would be used if these industries were located within Japan (Harada, 1991). 
  • Japanese practice of dumping of hazardous waste in the oceans, and exports of waste to Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand (Kumamoto, 1994). 
  • Japan is the only OECD country not to adopt the decision on the Control of Trans-frontier Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations (Hopp and Olson,1994). 
  • 15% of Japan’s landmass has been slated for resort development as a consequence of the 1987 Resort Act (Beasley, 1992), and much of this land has been used for golf courses. Recently, high land prices in Japan have fueled the expansion of golf courses across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
  • In the early 1990s some of the world’s highest rates of deforestation occurred in Sarawak, Malaysia, where over 66% of logs were being exported to Japan to fuel demand for logs and pulp(Thompson, 1993).
  • In fact Japan leads the world in the importation of tropical hardwoods by a large margin (ITTO, 1995). Japan also has extensive FDI in wood chip and pulp production in Chile, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the USA.
  • Instead of banning tropical hardwood imports or urging its Southeast Asian neighbors to ban exports, Japan’s solution instead has been to offer environmental aid for reforestation. Reforestation, however, usually consists of particular species of imported trees (primarily eucalyptus) which are most profitable for export (Ui, 1989: 396).
  • In the Philippines, Japanese aid has modernized the fishing port and market facilities and most of the large commercial fishing operations are Japanese owned (Ofreneo, 1993). As a result of over-fishing and ocean pollution,small-scale Filipino fishermen’s annual catch has been reduced dramatically (Broadand Cavanagh, 1993).
  • Mitsubishi was a major contributor to Indonesian deforestation (Hurst,1990) and currently owns large shares of interests in logging companies, saw mills,and dangerously polluting industries in Malaysia (Karan and Jasparro, 1998).

The complete paper, published in Political Grography is available here.

> Taylor, Jonathan (1998): Japan's Global Environmentalism: Rhetoric and Reality, Pergamon Political Geography, 18, 1999



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