At Ise-Shima, Japan, 26 - 27 May 2016, G7 leaders reaffirmed their determination to achieve global sustainable forest management and eliminate illegal logging as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In 2005, G8 leaders pledged to take steps to halt the trade in illegal timber, and since then, G7 members have responded with various initiatives: the US amended its Lacey Act and the EU adopted the EU Timber Regulation. However, Japanese efforts are lagging. Observers were disappointed when Japan’s Parliament promulgated a new law, 20 May 2016, addressing imports of illegally sourced timber, which only calls on companies to voluntarily conduct due diligence.
Japan is the world’s fourth largest importer of wood products and a major market for illegal timber. By failing to meet the standards already adopted by its G7 peers, Japan undermines global efforts to tackle illegal logging. The Malaysian state of Sarawak is a major exporter of illegal timber to Japan and has so far refused to enter in Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiations with the EU. Strong Japanese legislation could create an incentive for Sarawak to join VPA negotiations and tackle illegal logging.
A joint letter from 15 civil society organisations highlights serious weaknesses in Japan’s new law, and outlines the measures that the Japanese government should take to ensure its legislation reinforces global efforts to halt the illegal timber trade.