Greenpeace blasts Japanese gov’t over hazardous waste exports to Thailand

Feature story - January 9, 2007
Greenpeace activists picketed the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok with banners and barrels stating “Thailand is not Japan’s waste bin” in protest against the upcoming free-trade agreement, Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) which will allow Japan to export unprecedented quantities of hazardous waste to Thailand.

Greenpeace activists picketed the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok with banners and barrels stating "Thailand is not Japan's waste bin" in protest against the upcoming free-trade agreement, Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) which will allow Japan to export unprecedented quantities of hazardous waste to Thailand.

Kittikhun Kittiaram, toxics campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia ( right) delivers a document to representative of Japanese Embassy (left).

Greenpeace activists today picketed the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok with banners and barrels stating "Thailand is not Japan's waste bin" in protest against the upcoming free-trade agreement, Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) which will allow Japan to export unprecedented quantities of hazardous waste to Thailand.

Greenpeace is calling upon the Japanese government for immediate removal of all waste trade liberalization provisions from the JTEPA. Greenpeace also urged the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand to reject the treaty in its present form.

"This agreement is the toxic trade of the worst kind, it will open the floodgates for Japan's hazardous waste to be dumped into Thailand. Hazardous waste exports by Japan, whether in the guise of recycling or for final disposal is totally unacceptable. Therefore, all provisions on hazardous waste exports contained in JTEPA must be eliminated," said Kittikhun Kittiaram, toxics campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"This agreement is the toxic trade of the worst kind, it will open the floodgates for Japan's hazardous waste to be dumped into Thailand. Hazardous waste exports by Japan, whether in the guise of recycling or for final disposal is totally unacceptable. Therefore, all provisions on hazardous waste exports contained in JTEPA must be eliminated."

Kittikhun Kittiaram

Greenpeace Southeast Asia

The Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry recently confirmed that JTEPA includes a list of hazardous wastes for export from Japan to Thailand. These wastes include slag, ash and residues from the incineration of municipal waste, residual products of the chemical or allied industries, municipal waste, sewage sludge, and other wastes.

"Thai negotiators make it appear that Thailand is so desperate to increase its trade with Japan that they even offered the country to become Japan's waste bin. There is no logic nor dignity in this lopsided agreement. The government must investigate the motive of the negotiators of this criminal deal that will exacerbate Thailand's already unmanageable waste crisis." Kittikhun added.

According to the Pollution Control Department, in 2004 only 50% of 1.405 million tons of hazardous waste from the industrial sector were disposed and most of the 0.403 million tons of hazardous waste from households were not managed appropriately, resulting in many illegal toxic waste dumping cases. Additionally, Thailand is already a destination of toxic waste exports from developed countries including Japan. JTEPA's toxic waste provisions will deepen Thailand's waste crisis.

Both Thailand and Japan are signatories of the Basel Convention, a legally binding global commitment which was intended to stop all hazardous waste exports from industrialized countries to developing countries. However, it allows the export of hazardous waste imports for recycling. This loophole was addressed by the Basel Ban , an important amendment adopted to prohibit all hazardous waste exports and imports even for recycling.

"Thailand must immediately ratify the ban to protect itself from any attempts to legalize toxic waste dumping in the Kingdom through trade agreements like the JTEPA. We also call on Japan that instead of attempting to dump its hazardous waste in developing countries, it should manage its own hazardous wastes within its borders," Kittikhun said.

a) Letter to Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe /seasia/ph/Global/seasia/binaries/2007/1/letter-to-japanese-prime-minis.pdf b) JTEPA Fact Sheet http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/press/reports/jtepa-a-free-waste-trade-agr

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