Japan wants U.S. back in Kyoto

TOKYO, Reuters

Japan on Tuesday cautiously welcomed a U.N. proposal to kickstart stalled talks on tackling global warming that would give Tokyo special treatment, but repeated that U.S. participation in the Kyoto treaty was vital.

“It is most important that we realize a framework in which Japan, the European Union and the United States all participate,” Trade Minister Takeo Hiranuma said, one day after U.S. President George W. Bush called the Kyoto protocol “fatally flawed.”

In the hope of getting Japan’s support, the head of the United Nations’ climate change forum proposed that densely populated countries which meet energy efficiency goals be allowed to claim larger credits for their forests, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and partly offset pollution.

The official, Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, said that only Japan would qualify for such a treatment.

“There was some progress,” Hiranuma said in reference to the proposal. “But serious problems such as those involving developing countries remain to be resolved.”

Asked whether Japan would move forward without the United States, he said: “We are not considering doing so at present.”

International negotiations on the touchy topic are set to resume next month in Bonn.

Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi also said Tokyo would keep trying to persuade the United States to ratify the 1997 Kyoto treaty, for which Japan played host.