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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Japan to press US on Kyoto
Japanese Prime Minister greets Swedish deputy prime minister Lena Hjelmwallen, right, and EU delegate Margot Wallstrom
Prime Minister Koizumi: US participation is crucial
Tokyo has told a visiting European Union delegation that it would try to convince the United States to re-adopt the Kyoto pact on global warming, but did not say whether it would sign the pact without Washington.

Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka
Ms Tanaka: We want the EU to be flexible on this issue
"We will try our best to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by 2002," Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka was quoted as telling the EU delegation.

"We believe the United States is important to it, and Japan will continue to try to persuade Washington."

The Kyoto Protocol was drawn up in late 1997, with the aim of curbing global warming by reducing greenhouse gases produced by industrial nations.

The agreement was dealt a severe blow when the US, the world's largest producer of carbon dioxide, withdrew its support, saying the pact was "fatally flawed".

Japan as mediator

Japan has since tried to mediate between President George W Bush's administration and Europe, which wants to push ahead with the pact even without Washington.

Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, who is scheduled to meet the EU delegation later on Monday, will visit the US this week for talks to try to rescue the Kyoto treaty.

A Japanese protester in George Bush mask flashes a banner urging the government to ratify the Kyoto treaty.
Japan's support is vital for the Kyoto pact
She is expected to take with her some ideas for improving the pact, which might appease the US.

Among the changes Tokyo might propose, according to local media, is a cut in the US target for cutting its emissions from the 7% it pledged.

Under the accord, industrialised nations have agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012.

"We want the EU to be flexible on this issue," Tanaka told the visiting delegation.

The EU representatives, led by Sweden's deputy prime minister, Lena Hjelmwallen, and Belgium's State Secretary for Energy and Sustainable Development, Olivier Deleuze, said Brussels would be flexible, but urged Japan to be bold and ratify even if the US does not.

'Japan can wait'

Japanese Prime Minister Jinichiro Koizumi on Sunday said he did not think a decision on ratification had to be made in time for a conference on climate change in Bonn starting 16 July.

"It is clear in the prime minister's mind that the participation of the United States is extremely important," said Tsutomu Himeno, deputy press secretary for Mr Koizumi, at a press conference.

In order to come into effect, the Kyoto pact must be ratified by 55 countries, or by countries accounting for 55% of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions.

As the world's second-largest economy, Japan is crucial.

On Friday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder phoned Mr Koizumi to urge him to approve the treaty.

Earlier in the EU delegation's tour, its representatives were told by Australia that it viewed the pact as dead in the water without US support.

The delegation arrived in Japan on Sunday and will depart Tuesday morning.

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