Enactment of Environmental Impact Assessment Act
Japan was the last state among OECD countries which did not have Environmental Impact Assessment law. Finally we enacted EIA law July of last year, 1997.
The idea of EIA was introduced early 1970s when US enact NEPA and Japan faced very serious environment pollution. In 1972, one of major four pollution law suits, Yokkaichi Case, clearly mentioned the companies neglected obligation to conduct research before they decided the locations for possible toxic plants in its decision.
Unfortunately, from middle 1970, Japanese industry made full effort to counter the pollution problems saying they had overcome severe situation or they had succeeded to clean up Japan. In that atmosphere, a proposed EIA law in 1982 failed to be enacted by the Diet in 1984.
Since that time, Japan only had very limited EIA guideline, which mainly focusing pollution control problem regulated by laws and EIS was only released at final stage of detailed design. It was hardly difficult to consider alternatives. Public often criticized it as the EIA system was only to justify the projects.
Situation changed in 1990s. After bubble economics of late 1980s, public tended to consider to change their way of lives, from mass consumption society to more environmentally sound living society, or from large scale public works to more community based development.
Around the earth summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, both global warming problem and biodivesity problem bring us new concept that whole ecosystem should be protected and we should radically reconsider the present modern society and economics.
Inside Japan, Nagara River Dam project draw much attention of public and arose big opposition against the project. And several wet land and forest development project which planned more than 20 years ago faced serious protect as well.
Among this atmosphere, Japanese Central government changed its position and decided to introduced EIA law in 1997. The EIA law was enacted in June of 1997.
Progressive pointsEarly consultation with the public - Introduction of two conceptScreening
Considering whole eco-system not limited legally regulated matters
A lot of defaultsLimited public participation
Target is limited to project, not targeting program, plan or policies
No obligation of cosidering alternatives
Not tageting overseas projects