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Japan: Basel Act Amended

(Sept. 12, 2017) The Act on Control of Export, Import, etc. of Specified Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes (Basel Convention Act, Act No. 108 of 1992, E-GOV (in Japanese) is a Japanese domestic law corresponding to the Basel Convention to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes.  (Overview, Basel Convention website (last visited Sept. 1, 2017).)  The Diet (Japan’s parliament) recently amended the Act and the amendment Act was promulgated on June 16, 2017.  (Act No. 62 of 2017, KANPO, Extra Ed. No.128, at 33 (June 16, 2017) (in Japanese).)  The amendment will be effective within one and a half years from the date of promulgation. (Id. Supp. Provisions, art. 1.)

The Basel Convention Act requires that people involved in the import and export of specified hazardous wastes for disposal or recycling obtain approval from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act (Act No. 228 of 1949). (Basel Convention Act, art. 4 ¶ 1 & art. 8 ¶ 1.) The amended Act aims to enhance export regulations to achieve the purpose of the Convention.  (METI & Ministry of the Environment, Regarding a Bill to Partially Amend the Act on Control of Export, Import etc. of Specified Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes (Basel Convention Act), METI website (Mar. 2017), (in Japanese).)

In order to effectively regulate mixed wastes that include specified hazardous wastes, the amendment clarifies the scope of the specified hazardous wastes, specifying them in a Ministry of the Environment ordinance. (Basel Convention Act, art. 2 ¶ 1 item 1(a).)  The amended Act also adds wastes that are designated as hazardous wastes by the domestic legislation of another country and that are to be exported to that country to the definition of specified hazardous wastes under the Basel Act.  (Id. new art. 2 ¶ 1 item 1(e).)  In addition, the amended Act clarifies what the Minister of Environment considers to be necessary pollution prevention measures of countries to which specified hazardous waste are exported.  (Id. new art. 4 ¶ 3.)  The METI Minister needs the Minister of Environment’s notification confirming that the necessary measures have been taken in the given country before the METI Minister can approve the export of the specified hazardous wastes.  (Id. art. 4 ¶ 4.)

Further, the amended Act aims to enhance the competitiveness of the domestic recycling business. It removes imports of relatively less hazardous wastes, such as electronic substrate materials when imported for recycling purposes, from regulation under the Act.  (Id. new art. 4 ¶ 3.)