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June 02, 2007, Japan - "Panel to call for daylight saving time", The Yomiuri Shimbun

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The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the government's key policymaking body, will likely propose that the government begin studying the early introduction of a daylight saving system as part of measures to combat global warming, it was learned Friday.

The panel, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will compile the Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform for 2007 in mid-June.

According to a draft for the policies, the panel will place top priority on environmental problems, including the system to advance the clock by one hour, for instance, during the summer.

This will be the first time the panel has stated its intention to introduce the daylight saving system in its basic policies.

Regarding the compilation of the fiscal 2008 budget, the panel will emphasize its zeal to realize a scenario it mapped out last July, which called for the combined reform of both expenditure and revenue by fiscal 2011.

Environmentally, the panel will "ensure achievement of greenhouse gas reduction targets in the Kyoto Protocol" and "show leadership in creating an international framework after 2013" to combat global warming.

Measures to mitigate climate change are expected to be a major issue at the summit of the Group of Eight leaders in Hokkaido's Lake Toya area next year. As concrete measures, the draft stipulates, among others, the early introduction of the daylight saving system and the creation of a capital assistance mechanism to support less developed countries in measures to combat global warming.

For public investment projects, the draft stops short of spelling out concrete reduction targets for fiscal 2008, merely stating it will "select truly necessary public investment projects and promote the priority-and-efficiency-centered policy further."

Behind the inclusion of the daylight saving system, there are concerns whether Japan can achieve the target of greenhouse gas cuts contained in the Kyoto Protocol. The government intends to cut the nation's nighttime economic activities to help reduce greenhouse gases.

According to a government source, Abe is gravely concerned about meeting the target, and the government is thus determined to introduce the system. Japan introduced daylight saving in 1948, but abolished it four years later as it proved unpopular due to extended working hours, among other reasons. Hokkaido introduced the system for three years from 2004 to 2006 and reported certain energy-saving effects.

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