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Opportunities lie in eco-friendly businesses.

YOKOHAMA, Feb. 20 Kyodo

Chiba University of Commerce professor Tadahiro Mitsuhashi said Wednesday future business opportunities lie in environmentally friendly undertakings and that it is inevitable companies will increasingly engage in such businesses if targets set in a 1997 global warming pact are to be met.

''Business chances from now on lie here,'' Mitsuhashi said in reference to environmentally sound endeavors, which he said also improve the morale of company employees.

''Efforts are already being made by companies to deal with environmentally friendly businesses,'' Mitsuhashi said during a keynote speech at a symposium on the ''Century of the Environment'' in Yokohama.

The impending enforcement of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a global accord aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming, has accelerated moves by companies to embrace environmental measures, he said, but added that much more needs to be done.

Mitsuhashi introduced the example of Catalog House, a mail-order company based in Tokyo, which has a company policy of selling, as much as possible, products that do not harm Earth or living creatures, ranging from clothing to consumer electronics.

Although the products sold by the company are not necessarily inexpensive, Mitsuhashi said, it calls on manufacturers whose products it sells to offer an extended three-year warranty for their products, instead of one year as generally offered.

According to its company policy, Catalog House also has a department providing repairs to products it has sold and collects used products sold by the company for recycling.

Catalog House, established in 1976, posted sales of more than 35.2 billion yen in the accounting year that ended March 2001.

Meanwhile, in reference to Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrid car Prius, which uses electricity and gasoline, Mitsuhashi said Toyota's adoption of environmentally friendly innovations boosted the morale of its employees.

Prius gets double the gasoline mileage while emitting half the carbon dioxide of conventional cars, according to the automaker.

Although the financial benefits of improved employee morale are difficult to measure, he said it is clear the consciousness of employees at such companies differs.

''In order to achieve a recycling-oriented society, it is essential to increase the productivity of energy and other resources by using less resources,'' he said, adding the challenge lies in finding a way to increase living standards while using fewer resources.

He suggested several ways of increasing productivity, including prolonging the term of use of products, recycling used products, and making more use of rental systems rather than encouraging individuals to purchase every item they use.

The one-day symposium titled, ''Future Challenges for Business -- A Global Warming Mitigation Perspective,'' was the third of its kind and hosted by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, a research institute based in Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Some 100 people mainly from business corporations and universities attended the session.

The Kyoto Protocol requires industrialized countries to cut their emissions of heat-trapping gasses from 1990 levels by an average 5.2% between 2008 and 2012. It sets the reduction target for the United States at 7%.

U.S. President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto pact last March, saying it would sacrifice U.S. economic growth and lacked participation by developing countries.

Last week, Bush unveiled a new U.S. policy calling for voluntary limits on greenhouse-gas emissions by companies in accordance with economic growth instead of mandatory reduction targets presented in the Kyoto pact.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Feb 25, 2002
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