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Japan voices regret over U.S. exit from Paris climate accord

The Japanese government on Friday expressed regret over
President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of
the Paris climate accord and pledged to continue urging Washington to
cooperate in grappling with global warming.

With some Cabinet ministers criticizing Trump for undermining
international efforts to tackle climate change, Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe's administration promised to work with other countries to put the
2015 pact into force.

"As Japan was hoping to work with the United States within the
framework of the Paris agreement, the announcement by the U.S.
administration on its withdrawal from the Paris agreement is
regrettable," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

While exploring ways to cooperate with the United States, the
second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, Japan will
"work with other parties to the Paris agreement for its steady and
full implementation" to tackle the "important issue of climate
change," Kishida added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference,
"Climate change requires a concerted effort by the whole of the
international community and Japan believes the leadership of the
developed countries to be of great importance."

"As the commitment by the United States to combat climate change
is still important, we will seek the cooperation of the United
States," the top government spokesman said.

Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto, who has expressed doubt
about the effectiveness of the Paris accord without U.S.
participation, separately told a press conference, "I am very
disappointed, plus a little angry as (Trump) has turned his back on
the wisdom of human beings."

In a meeting with experts later on Friday, Yamamoto said Japan
is "ready to lead the world in striving to implement" the agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, meanwhile, told reporters that
Washington did not ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the world's first
and only legally binding treaty on climate change. The United States
was the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter when the pact was
adopted.

Trump criticized the Paris accord as being unfair because it
allows China to "build hundreds of additional coal plants" and India
-- another major carbon emitter -- to "double its coal production by
2020," in what he said "transfers coal jobs out of America" and
"ships them to foreign countries."

The agreement, struck by some 200 countries to combat global
warming, came into effect last November.

The United States under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama pledged
to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005
levels by 2025.

At the Group of Seven summit late last month in Italy, Abe along
with other G-7 leaders attempted to persuade Trump to remain
committed to the Paris pact.

Tokyo will take advantage of upcoming international meetings
such as a G-7 environment ministers' meeting later this month and a
Group of 20 summit next month to tell the United States that its
economy will benefit if it opts to fight climate change within the
framework of the Paris Agreement, government officials said.

Yamamoto said he wants to meet U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on the sidelines of the G-7
environment meeting in Bologna, Italy, and "convince him" if possible.

The G-20 will bring together emerging economies like China and
India with their industrialized peers, while island nations facing a
direct threat from global warming will have a chance to make their
case at the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N.
Convention on Climate Change in Germany in November.

A Japanese Environment Ministry official said the so-called
COP23 gathering "could take on a hostile atmosphere, with developing
countries erupting in criticism of the passive U.S. stance."

Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of COP23 organizer Fiji, said
in a statement he is "deeply disappointed" at Trump's choice.

But Satoshi Tanaka, principal research director at the
Japan-based Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, said there
are still "quite a lot of things that can be done at a working level."

The terms of the Paris accord mean the actual U.S. withdrawal
will take effect in November 2020 at the soonest, and the country can
keep participating in negotiations for the time being.

Until Trump's decision, Washington had been staying out of
debate on the accord, saying it was still reviewing its policy on the
matter.

"Now that the United States has decided on its policy, it will
be held accountable," Tanaka said.

"Each country should take time to figure out what it can wish
for and talk about (with the United States)," he said.