In full-page advertisements in the Financial Times and Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest daily newspaper, 50 reputed organisations, working on environment and accountability related issues, from across the world have appealed to Shinzo Abe to stop funding coal.

The advertisements, endorsed by WWF, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, Banktrack, Centre for Financial Accountability, Chennai Solidarity Group, and many other organisations, reminded Abe of his last year’s call to save Japan and appealed him to demonstrate true leadership.

Currently, Japan is among the world’s largest public financiers of coal-fired power stations. As per the records, between 2013 and 2017, Japan provided a massive $14.5 billion in public money for coal plants overseas. Whereas, just between 2016-2018, Japan’s three biggest banks – Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation – occupied 1st, 2nd, and 4th position in financing coal projects globally by together invested $ 27 billion.

Japanese Investments In India
As per the Centre for Financial Accountability’s analysis of the Japanese FDI into India, the majority of the investments went to automobile, electrical equipment, telecommunications, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. Specifically, the coal has also received considerable investments from the Official Development Assistance, the arm of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Piyush Goyal, then minister for power, coal and renewable energy, in 2015, revealed Japanese institutions’ keenness on investing on India’s coal-based thermal power plants. Some of the prominent investments on coal-based thermal power plants by Japanese financial institutions in India are JBIC and JICA’s JPY 25.8 billion to NTPC; JBIC and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd.’s JPY 13.5 billion loan for Meja Thermal Power Project, a 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power station under construction in Uttar Pradesh; JBIC and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation’s support to 4,000 megawatt coal-fired super thermal power project power in Kudgi, Karnataka; and Sumitomo Corporation’s interest in now-deferred 4,000-megawatt Srikakulam Thermal Power Station in Andhra Pradesh. It is important to mention that all the three projects are marred by issues of displacement, environmental destruction and protests by the local population.

Demands raised by the campaigners
Urging PM Abe to demonstrate true climate leadership by stopping new coal development, phasing out existing coal, and ending coal financing overseas, the advertisements come in the wake of Japan’s continued support to the coal-fired thermal power plants at home and abroad. The latest example of this support is last week’s $1.2 billion loan for the Van Phong 1 Coal-Fired Power Project in Vietnam by Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC), a public financial institution. Moreover, the call assumes even more importance as the Japanese government is developing a long-term strategy on climate change, which provides an important opportunity to show true leadership towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

These advertisements by No Coal Japan are part of an ongoing online petition aiming towards to pressurising the government and corporate leaders in Japan to stop investing in harmful coal plant projects in Japan and around the world. The emails sent from be delivered to Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan; Taro Aso, Minister of Finance; Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; Mr. Taro Kono, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Yoshiaki Harada, Minister of the Environment; Mr. Tadashi Maeda, Governor of Japan Bank for International Cooperation; Mr. Kazuhiko Bando, Chairman and CEO of Nippon Export and Investment Insurance; Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President of Japan International Cooperation Agency, and others top lenders.

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