Ensure that economic activities are carried out in a manner less burdensome on the global environment by promoting resource and energy conservation, raising awareness, and improving education in all segments of the population
This government-led environmental initiative triggered related activities within industry and various Japanese ministries and agencies. Several reports were released by the Council on Industrial Structure and Policy of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). In 1990, an interim report, Earth Revival Program, called for a new value concept intended to change people's lifestyles—a paradigm shift in innovative industrial technology and coordination of industrial activities and environmental policies. The new value concept placed less importance on material affluence and more on spiritual, cultural, and traditional aspects of life. The shift is not only from pollution control to prevention, but also to technologies of dematerialization—those which use less material and energy per unit product. In November 1990, the Experts' Study Committee on A Recycle-Oriented Society for Environmental Protection of the Japan Environment Agency (JEA), published a report that formed the basis for Japan's 1991 recycling law (Japanese Environment Agency, 1991).
Industry also appears to have made big changes in its environmental policy since 1989. As early as April 1990, Keidanren (a federation of economic organizations representing more than 1,000 private industry and business organizations) released a document showing industry's approach to new environmental policy (Keidanren, 1990a). For the first time, Japanese companies were required to review all their activities and operations from the viewpoint of reducing their total environmental load and, in particular, integrating all environmental precautions and considerations into their operations.
In November 1990, this was followed by another document that reviewed existing waste-management practices in major industries and proposed a new responsible upstream preventive approach (Keidanren, 1990b). This was extended in April 1991 with the consensus of the Keidanren member organization on guidelines for corporate environmental actions (Keidanren, 1991). The 24 guidelines cover 11 corporate environmental policy areas, including implementing internal environmental auditing and management, and improving environmental attributes of products (Appendix 1). Although the charter is not binding, almost all corporations, particularly leading firms, are making efforts to improve environmental performance in accordance with it.
Concurrently, the government intensified its environmental public policy efforts. On the basis of JEA's 1991 recycle society report (JEA, 1991), six ministries, including MITI, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and JEA, worked collaboratively with industry on a bill to promote recycling. The Law Promoting the Utilization of Recycled Resources, or the recycling law of 1991, stipulates new responsibilities for promoting recycling in selected industries, of first- and