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Rage and dismay in Japan as Trump pulls US out of Paris climate accord

Japanese government figures and environmental advocacy groups are voicing deep dismay over U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he would pull the United States out of the international Paris Agreement on climate change.

Trump had played up the announcement twice on his Twitter account, ending each post with his campaign slogan "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN." During his June 1 speech (Washington time), Trump declared, "In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. ... So we're getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair (to the U.S.)."

He later tagged a tweet about the announcement with #AmericaFirst, another of his favorite phrases. The announcement fulfills Trump's oft-repeated promise during the 2016 presidential campaign to pull the U.S. out of the global climate accord.

The response to Trump's announcement in Japan was swift, with a government statement released on June 2 declaring, "Climate change requires a concerted effort by the whole of the international community. Japan believes the leadership of the developed countries to be of great importance, and the steady implementation of the Paris Agreement is critical in this regard," adding that "the recent announcement by the U.S. administration on its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is regrettable."

Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto also stated on June 2, "As environment minister and as an individual, I am very disappointed" with the U.S. decision, which had come "just when the human species had finally achieved this level of wisdom."

Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Nobuteru Ishihara voiced worries for the future of the pact, commenting that, "If emerging countries also say, 'Us, too!' then the agreement framework could be wrecked."

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso told a morning news conference, "Well, I guess it (the U.S.) is just that kind of country." He went on to speculate that the U.S.'s burgeoning fossil fuel sector may have played a role in the decision, saying, "The United States has become a (fossil fuel) exporter, so perhaps it thought, 'How will this (the agreement) impact our economy?' The U.S. has really changed since the discovery of shale gas and oil."

Former Environment Minister and current Minister in Charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Tamayo Marukawa said that "the American people would understand our accord (the Paris Agreement) and could act in favor of it."

Meanwhile, environmental action groups in Japan were making their outrage clear on the morning of June 2.

"We had just sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Japan on June 1 asking America not to leave the Paris Agreement," said Mitsutoshi Hayakawa, managing director of the Osaka-based NGO Citizens' Alliance for Saving Atmosphere and Earth. "I feel real anger that the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China would ditch its responsibilities and throw away this historic pact."

Attorney Mie Asaoka, the 69-year-old leader of the Kyoto-based NGO Kiko Network -- which was involved in the 1997 conference to adopt the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions -- said the U.S. withdrawal "is only intended to protect the kinds of jobs that have been around for a long time, even as the world is building a new economy based on renewable energy. It's hard to say they (the Trump administration) understand things.

"This pact was a switch to a global approach to (emissions) policy," Asaoka said of the Paris Agreement, which was put together with the backing of both the U.S. and China. "Trump is talking about renegotiating, but the agreement is already established policy. The U.S. won't find anyone to negotiate with."

(Related link)

Japan's statement regarding the US announcement of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

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