High on the agenda at the 17th Japan-EU summit in Tokyo were climate change, Tibet and spiralling food prices. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda attended a whole day of discussions on these matters before issuing a joint Japan-EU statement.
Rising prices for bread and rice could plunge millions into hunger
One of the summit’s burning issues was climate change and how to tackle it urgently. In their statement, top leaders from the European Union and Japan called for “highly ambitious and binding” targets to reduce greenhouse gases.
They said a “fair and flexible” carbon-capping framework was needed to prepare for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Although Japan and the EU differed on certain points, their joint statement places emphasis on reaching a common agreement. In the past, Japan has said it wants greenhouse gas reductions to be set according to industry, while the EU has tended towards economy-wide targets.
No precise figures
The statement does not give a figure for global emissions reductions, although it emphasises that they should be binding. Previously, the EU has proposed cuts of 25 to 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. Whilst Japan has agreed with the United States that it is too early to set precise numbers.
Earlier this year, however, after being criticised by environmental activists, Japan announced it would set its own national target for cutting emissions. The joint statement also supports national targets.
The G8 energy ministers will meet in June to discuss these measures further. They hope they might reach a final breakthrough at this year’s annual G8 summit in Hokkaido.
The G8 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. The European Union will also attend the July summit.
Another burning issue was the issue of rising prices of natural resources and commodities. Economists fear a slow down in the global economy that could have disastrous consequences for developed and developing nations. On Tuesday, the EU and Japan called for immediate action to curb the spiralling prices of food in particular.
The United Nations World Food Programme has warned that the rising prices could plunge over a hundred million people on every continent into hunger.
Japan and the EU also voiced their concerns about the unrest in Tibet, about Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes, about human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and about the lack of democracy in Myanmar.
The Japan-EU summit takes place annually -- either in Japan or in the country that currently holds the rotating EU presidency.