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ISO and Japanese Cities
The ISO 14001 Initiative of Tokyo Metropolitan Government


General Description:

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is located in the central Japan. It has an area of about 2,200 square kilometers (about 0.6% of the total land area of Japan), with a population of about 11.8 million (about 10% of the total population in Japan). The Metropolis consists of the following three parts: 1) 23 wards which consists of the urban central part of Tokyo; 2) Tama area in the western part of Tokyo which consists of suburban cities, farming regions, and mountainous regions, and 3) scattered island area in the Pacific Ocean.

Background for the movement toward the acquisition of ISO14001 certificate:

Being the capital of Japan, as well as one of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo has been facing serious environmental issues brought about by significantly increasing urban activities. In facing such a situation, it was reported that the government had come to recognize the need to take voluntary actions for protecting the environment, by recognizing itself not only as the governing body but also as the largest 'consumer' of everyday goods such as paper etc.

In 1997, it decided to introduce an action plan called, "Eco-Up Plan", which outlines quantitative goals to be met for such items as paper and utility use in the office to make the its offices 'greener'. It also includes concrete action plans that need to be considered in pursuing these operations. In order to implement the Plan in a more effective manner, in 1998, it was decided to initiate the acquisition of ISO14001 certification.

Stage of acquisition of ISO14001 certificate:

Initiation of preparation for the acquisition: December 1998
Acquisition of certificate: March 2000 (expected)

Features of activities:

The acquisition process by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is still under way. Once the Metropolitan headquarters office in Shinjuku (with 13,000 staff members) acquires the certificate, it is expected to be the largest organizational unit in Japan to acquire the certificate.

The final decision to acquire ISO14001 certificate was made by the Governor of Tokyo. Although there was some discussion on the potential benefits of acquisition, scope of targeted operations, etc., there was no major opposition against the decision to acquire the certificate. After the decision was taken, the Department of Environmental Protection was designated as the secretariat, while the Policy and Information Office (responsible for policy making and coordination) and the Finance Department (responsible for building management) were designated to jointly function with the secretariat as a project team. In addition, the Department of Construction (responsible for public construction work), Office for the Accounting Chief (responsible green procurement), and Staff Training Center (responsible for education and training) also played key roles in the process by actively participating as members of the expert's sectional meeting of the project team. Since there was insufficient knowledge regarding the processes and benefits of acquisition, seminars were organized by the Metropolitan government office by inviting professional ISO registrars and inspectors. Staff members also participated in seminars organized by private educational organizations. It was also reported that the office collected information from other local governments such as Osaka prefecture, Oita prefecture as well Joetsu City and Niigata prefecture which were also actively working on ISO acquisition.

The scope of the targeted activities to which EMS is to be applied is currently under discussion. The main internal objectives and long-term internal benefits of the acquisition are: 1) to raise environmental awareness of the staff members; 2) to reduce operational costs of the government office; 3) to increase environmental consideration in activities by the Metropolitan government office; and 4) to improve and increase effectiveness of the existing EMS. On the other hand, external objectives and long-term external benefits are: 1) to clearly present the attitude and determination of the government office to actively work for the establishment of a sustainable society; 2) to promote environmental consideration by other stakeholders in the Metropolis in their activities; and 4) to promote the acquisition of ISO14001 by ward, city, town, and village offices located in the Metropolis which would eventually lead to the development of efficient environmental administration by the government office.

With regard to the likely barriers in acquisition and implementation process of the ISO14001, it was reported that it would be difficult to decide how to apply and interpret the standards required by the certificate in the complex organizational framework of the Metropolitan government office. Regarding information dissemination and communication, it is planned that the office will actively disseminate the experience and know-how to the public once it acquires the certificate. It is also planned that once EMS is established, the continuous improvement is to be made in order make the system more efficient and environmentally sound.

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org