FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2017
Bruno Manser Fund
Rainforest Action Network
Markets For Change
Japan Tropical Forest Action Network
Friends of the Earth Japan
Annina Aeberli, Bruno Manser Fund (Switzerland), +41 79 128 58 73, email@example.com
Toyo Kawakami, Rainforest Action Network (Japan), +81 80 3488 9849, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurel Sutherlin, Rainforest Action Network (USA), +1 415 246 0161, email@example.com
Peg Putt, Markets For Change (Australia), +61 418 127 580, firstname.lastname@example.org
Indigenous leader appeals to the Japanese Prime Minister: stop rainforest destruction for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Supplier of wood for Tokyo’s new National Olympic Stadium accused of destroying Indigenous livelihoods
SARAWAK / MALAYSIA – On the anniversary of the first Tokyo Olympics, Matu Tugang, headman of the Indigenous Penan community of Long Jaik from Sarawak, Malaysia, delivered an urgent plea to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stop Japan’s use of wood from a company that is destroying their forests and their livelihoods. Japan has been using tropical timber from Sarawak to construct the New National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Evidence gathered at the Stadium construction site by NGOs in April 2017 confirmed the use of plywood supplied by Shin Yang, a company which has been logging in the area of Long Jaik for almost two decades and has previously been implicated in illegal logging, rainforest destruction, and human rights abuses.
Sign posting for Long Jaik village.
The community of Long Jaik has been fighting with blockades to protect their forests against Shin Yang’s logging and conversion to oil palm plantations. The community has an ongoing lawsuit against Shin Yang for violating their customary rights, but this has failed to stop Shin Yang from intruding onto the community’s land. In a last attempt to save their remaining forests, the headman is turning to Shin Yang’s buyers in Japan and asking the Japanese Prime Minister to intervene: “Dear Prime Minister of Japan, please, make sure Japan does not accept wood that Shin Yang has stolen from us. As long as Japan continues to accept this wood, Shin Yang will continue logging our forests and extracting logs daily.”
In the letter, headman Tugang bears witness to Shin Yang’s destructive logging practices and the company’s disregard for the community’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent: “Shin Yang has been logging very aggressively in the area of our village. When their tractors extract a log, they just bulldoze everything around… Shin Yang has been logging our ancestral forests without our permission or consent. They have never asked us for our opinion or needs.” The Malaysian Human Rights Commission investigated the community’s plight in 2007 and found Shin Yang’s practices were driving the community further into poverty.
The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo Olympic authorities have been the subject of relentless criticism from an international coalition of civil society organisations who have been critical of Tokyo 2020’s poor timber sourcing standards and lack of transparency in their timber supply chain. Despite repeated demands to disclose the origin of the timber in use for the Olympics and to end the use of Shin Yang wood and other high risk timber, authorities have failed to respond to NGO concerns.