Toxic Trade News / 2 May 2007
< Previous Page
Asian Groups Slam Japan's Waste Colonialism
Coalition Press Release
Environmental health and justice activists satirized the famed flag-raising during the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. In this parody of the celebrated Iwo Jima scene held in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila, activists dressed as Japanese bureaucrats and merchants raised the flag with the yen sign in a mountain of trash to demonstrate Tokyo's scheme to set up waste colonies in Asia through bilateral trade and investment treaties.

Photo by Gigie Cruz (GAIA)

2 May 2007 (Manila, Philippines) – Environmental and civil society groups from around the globe today blasted the Japanese government for what they view as Japans sinister plot to establish waste colonies in Asia by liberalizing trade in toxic wastes via bilateral trade and investment treaties. Joining the first ever global day of action against Japanese waste colonialism are over 150 concerned groups and individuals from 42 countries, including the Philippines, who have come together to denounce and block Tokyo's push to link toxic waste trade with overseas development assistance and investments.

The collaborative campaign organized by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Basel Action Network-Asia Pacific (BAN-AP), Greenpeace Southeast Asia (GPSEA), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and Ecowaste Coalition, coincides with the celebration of the Kenpo Kinenbi, a Japanese holiday to commemorate the enactment of the Nihon-koku Kenpo (Constitution of Japan) that took effect on 3 May 1947. In Manila, environmental activists satirized the famed raising of the US flag atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. They mounted a tableau in front of the Embassy of Japan that saw activists dressed as Japanese bureaucrats and merchants erecting a flag with the yen sign on a mound of trash to illustrate Japan's scheme to set up waste colonies in Asia. Citizens groups in Chennai, Seoul and Taipei also gathered in front of the Japanese foreign missions to denounce the liberalized trade in toxic waste.

"We oppose the insertion of toxic items, many of which are globally banned or restricted in Japan's economic partnership agreements (EPA's) with neighboring countries. The zero tariff provisions for these items will only ease toxic waste flow and legalize the deceitful shipment of toxic wastes disguised as recyclable goods from Japan to poorer countries. We reject any scheme that will turn our countries into toxic waste outposts and put the health and safety of our workers and communities at great risk," said Manny Calonzo, Co-coordinator, GAIA.

Participating groups endorsed a cyber-petition and sent postcards to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reminding him that "Asia is not Japan's waste colony" and asking his government to stop circumventing the provisions of multilateral environmental agreements such as the Basel Convention, which aims to minimize the generation and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to ensure national self-sufficiency in hazardous waste management.

"The Japanese Constitution requires faithful observance by Japan of its international obligations. Prime Minister Abes government can not honorably claim faithful observance of the Basel Convention when they actively undermine the Convention and its decisions by arm-twisting poorer countries into taking Japanese toxic wastes," said Richard Gutierrez, director of BAN-AP.

The groups asked the governments of Japan, Philippines, Thailand, and other Asian governments to remove all toxic items and other exploitive provisions in their respective EPA's, and to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for any purpose, including recycling. Organizers will also forward copies of their petition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and other appropriate governmental and inter-governmental agencies.

Download a full resolution version of the press photo


For more information, please contact:

Manny C. Calonzo, GAIA,, phone: +632-4364733
Richard Gutierrez, BAN-AP,, phone: +632-9290376
Beau Baconguis, GPSEA, phone: +632-4347034
Merci Ferrer, HCWH-Asia,, phone: +632-9262649

Also visit the BAN website at

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Basel Action Network is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

More News
< Previous Page Return to Top
©2011 Basel Action Network (BAN). All Rights Reserved. – Phone: 206-652-5555 | FAX: 206-652-5750

Select images courtesy of Chris Jordan