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Cablegate: Goj Considers New Law for Chemicals

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RR RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3193 3232256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182256Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8929
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 1063
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 9079
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 3422
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 4851
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 1632
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC

UNCLAS TOKYO 003193

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/J

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD SENV PREL JA
SUBJECT: GOJ CONSIDERS NEW LAW FOR CHEMICALS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (U) SUMMARY. Japanese officials expect the Diet to approve a
new law controlling trade in chemicals in the Spring. The
legislation will ensure Japan meets the integrated chemical
management objectives laid out at the 2002 UN World Summit on
Sustainable Development (WSSD). The European Union's Registration,
Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) is a part of the
same WSSD agreement. After a year of research, a working group
submitted its recommendations this October. END SUMMARY.

Meeting International Standards
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) According to Health Ministry Chemical Safety Deputy
Director Taihei Tanaka, the GOJ is confident the Diet will
deliberate and pass a new chemical safety law that is based on
international standards. The goal is to meet objectives laid out at
the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD). Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Chemical
Safety Director Hirokazu Morita said 2020 is the year for completing
the international integration of chemical management regimes. The
European Union's Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of
Chemicals (REACH) is a part of the same WSSD agreement.

3. (SBU) Several dozen chemical experts from academia, industry,
and consumer organizations spent the last year researching the new
chemical safety law. Tanaka provided a draft copy of the working
group's October report. Tanaka noted the report utilized
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) work
such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPS).

All Chemicals Will Be Reported
------------------------------

4. (SBU) Tanaka explained the new law will differ from the present
law by requiring industry to report the production and importation
volumes of all chemicals. He stated that the law at present only
requires this data for Class II and Class III chemicals in the
Japanese categorization system. In addition, although Japan's
current law bans the manufacture and importation of Class I
chemicals, the new law is expected to permit the "essential use" of
such chemicals, in accordance with the international standard. An
example of a Class I chemical is polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Risk Assessment Changes
-----------------------

5. (SBU) Tanaka explained risk assessment is currently based purely
on the toxicity of the chemical. The new legislation proposes to
determine a chemical's classification by evaluating both its
toxicity and its exposure potential to humans and the environment.
Chemicals classified as Class II or III under the new methodology
will have many of the same governmental monitoring and reporting
requirements that exist in the current law. Some examples of Class
II chemicals include trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene used
in paints and detergents.

SCHIEFFER

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