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Japan Ratifies Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming - 2002-06-04

Japan has ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming. But it is unlikely the pact will go into force during the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which opens in August.

The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi officially endorsed the Kyoto Treaty's ratification Tuesday. Prime Minister Koizumi said in a statement it will not be easy to meet the targets in the treaty. He said it will require a joint effort by the government, corporations and individuals.

The global climate treaty was signed five years ago, in the ancient Japanese capital Kyoto. It requires industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Some scientists say that the gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, contribute to rising temperatures around the world.

Japan pledged to cut its emissions six percent, but environmentalists predict this will be difficult. Environment Minister Hiroshi Oki said that as the host nation of the Kyoto pact, he is pleased that it has been ratified. He added that the government, along with the people of Japan, will aim to achieve the treaty's goals.

A Japanese official said the nation's environment minister and other leaders will urge the United States, Russia and other countries to participate in the agreement.

The United States, the world's largest polluter, rejected the treaty last March shortly after President Bush took office. His administration said that participation in the pact would hurt the U.S. economy. A U.S. government report released Friday for the first time blamed human actions for global warming, but it recommended adapting to climate changes rather than making sharp cuts in greenhouse gases.

At least 55 nations, accounting for 55 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, must ratify the Kyoto Protocol before it becomes legally binding.

The pact is likely to miss the deadline for going into force, scheduled for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. That gathering opens on August 26. Due to a delay in ratification by Russia, another major greenhouse gas emitter, reaching that deadline has become virtually impossible.