Alongside Europe and the United States, Japan is a major global driver of tropical deforestation and related human rights abuses, particularly in Southeast Asia. Japanese companies are significant purchasers and financiers of palm oil, pulp & paper and timber from Indonesia and Malaysia.
These commodities are strongly associated with forest destruction, land grabbing and massive carbon pollution. At the same time, Japanese banks are some of the biggest sources of finance for companies causing large-scale clearance of valuable rainforests and peatlands. Protecting Southeast Asia’s rainforests requires shrinking Japan’s rainforest footprint.
RAN Japan was established in 2005, beginning with a campaign to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests from Australian timber giant Gunns Limited. By mobilizing key stakeholders, including Gunns’ Japanese pulp & paper customers, we secured a major victory for Tasmania’s forests. Since then, RAN has campaigned against Japan’s use of paper from tropical rainforests produced by irresponsible suppliers like APP and APRIL, illegal rainforest timber, and more recently Conflict Palm Oil.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities committed to hosting one of the greenest Olympic games in history. Shockingly, RAN and our allies found significant volumes of rainforest wood being used to build Olympic facilities, including the new National Olympic Stadium. The timber was supplied by a Malaysian logging company with a well-documented history of rainforest destruction, illegal logging and human rights abuses.
RAN and dozens of allied organizations delivered an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Olympic authorities demanding an end to the use of rainforest wood to construct the Tokyo Olympic facilities. The groups also demanded robust safeguards to prevent the use of rainforest-derived paper and Conflict Palm Oil in the Olympics. The current safeguards are not sufficient to protect rainforests and respect human rights and deliver on the sustainability promises made for Tokyo 2020.
RAN continues to work with allies, Olympic organizers, government and others to address the growing public outcry and ensure Olympic authorities make good on their commitments and uphold the reputation and credibility of the iconic Olympic games.
Japan’s banking sector is one of the largest sources of loans to companies engaged in tropical deforestation in Southeast Asia. They’re also major financiers of environmentally destructive sectors like coal power and oil and gas infrastructure here in the US, including the tar sands pipelines.
Japan’s top three banks – Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group – have no effective safeguards to protect valuable forests, respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, or tackle climate change.
RAN is calling on all banks, including Japan’s banking sector, to adopt strong safeguard policies and due diligence systems, so that only genuinely responsible forest and energy sector clients can get bank loans.
Conflict Palm Oil Laggard: Nissin Foods
The extreme social and environmental consequences of Conflict Palm Oil are not yet widely known in Japan and very few Japanese companies have adopted responsible palm oil procurement policies.
Japanese noodle giant Nissin Foods is a clear laggard among the Snack Food 20, a group including some of the world’s largest companies exposed by RAN for their links to Conflict Palm Oil. In September 2017, Nissin Foods finally responded to mounting pressure by adopting a “Policy on Sustainable Procurement,” but unfortunately the policy falls short of what’s needed to keep Conflict Palm Oil out of its global supply chain.
We’re ramping up pressure on Nissin Foods to strengthen its procurement policy to protect rainforests and peatlands and uphold human rights including land rights of Indigenous and local community and labor rights. This is especially important as Nissin Foods prepares to supply products for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Controversial Pulp and Paper: APP and APRIL
Notorious logging giants APP (Asia Pulp & Paper) and APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings) dominate Indonesia's pulp and paper industry and have transformed vast areas of tropical forests and carbon-rich peatlands into industrial plantations, at great costs to local communities, biodiversity, and the climate.
Notorious logging giants APP (Asia Pulp & Paper) and APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings) dominate Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry and have transformed vast areas of tropical forests and carbon-rich peatlands into industrial plantations, at great costs to local communities, biodiversity, and the climate. Both companies are responsible for widespread, unresolved land disputes with local communities across these deforested areas. (See here)
Japan imports substantial quantities of copy paper from Indonesia, as well as other paper products such as tissue, toilet paper, notebook paper and printing papers. APP alone is responsible for supplying about one quarter of Japan’s copy paper market.
To protect the last Indonesian rainforests, wildlife, and uphold the rights of forest dependent communities, RAN Japan and allies continue to work to persuade major paper purchasing companies in Japan to avoid papers from APP or APRIL.