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    Japanese Environment Minister Urges Greenhouse Emissions Cuts

    Sakihito Ozawa urges other developed nations to join Japan's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050

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    Japan's minister of the environment is urging other developed nations to join the country's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. His appeal comes as more than 190 countries gather in Denmark for the United Nations climate summit.  

    Since taking office three months ago, Japan's new government has set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  In September, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama vowed to reduce emissions by 25 percent in the next decade, compared with levels from 1990, a goal that would only be carried out if major greenhouse gas emitters like China set similar goals.

    In an address to foreign journalists, Japan's environment minister called on the rest of the world to aim for similar goals.

    Sakihito Ozawa says more and more countries are announcing emission-reduction targets.

    The United Nations summit is attempting to get world leaders to reach a political agreement that addresses specific programs and funding mechanisms to help countries reach their emission targets.

    Sakihito says he is optimistic that goal will be reached, but that he does not expect countries to sign a legally binding agreement.

    Mr. Hatoyama's government has not laid out specifics on its plans to reduce the country's emissions in the next decade.  Last month, Sakihito proposed a "green tax" on fossil fuels as one option.  The administration's ambitious goals have raised concerns among businesses and homeowners, who worry about the cost to comply with the government's new environmentally friendly standards.

    Ozawa asserts the 25 percent cut will not be achieved through burdens placed on businesses and citizens.  He predicts the Japanese can maintain a comfortable and safe lifestyle, while reaching the greenhouse gas target. 

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