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9 Pac. Rim L. & Pol'y J. 379 (2000)
Punishing and Preventing Pollution in Japan: Is American-Style Criminal Enforcement the Solution?

handle is hein.journals/pacrimlp9 and id is 387 raw text is: Copyright C 2000 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal Association

Robert G. Kondratt
Abstract:  Both Japan and the United States face the ongoing threat of intentional
and preventable pollution.  From  1970 until the mid-1980s, Japan utilized its
environmental crime laws to punish and prevent intentional and preventable acts of
pollution. After this period, however, the number of environmental crime arrests and
prosecutions in Japan declined. In contrast, since the 1980s, the United States has
continued to expand the number of prosecutors and investigators dedicated to the
enforcement of environmental crime laws. These divergent trends can be explained by
the different pollution histories, enforcement personnel structures, regulatory strategies,
and case law of the two countries. In recent years, Japan has been plagued by large oil
spills and the illegal disposal of industrial waste. By aggressively enforcing its
environmental crime laws and increasing criminal fines, Japan can better deter these
types of pollution in the future.
In 1970, Japan became the first nation in the world to provide criminal
sanctions for acts of pollution' that endanger human health.2 Japan's
innovative pollution control laws established an important precedent for
other industrialized nations, including the United States.3 Over the past two
decades, however, Japan's enforcement of its environmental crime laws has
decreased. In contrast, officials in the United States have rapidly expanded
the number of prosecutors and investigators dedicated to the enforcement of
environmental crime laws. Despite facing similar environmental problems,4
I A.B., 1998, Duke University, Environmental Sciences and Policy, Biology, J.D. expected 2001,
University of Washington School of Law. The author wishes to thank Professor John 0. Haley for his
helpful insight into Japanese law and society, Bob and Vivian Kondrat for their generous support, and
Lawrence Lincoln and Helen Brunner for being mentors in federal environmental crime prosecution.
1 Environmental crime laws could also include laws related to fish and wildlife (i.e., those that
punish poaching), endangered species protection, and nuclear energy and radioactive substances. This
Comment, however, is limited to an examination of environmental crime laws governing pollution caused
by releases of harmful substances into the air, soil, and water.
(1981). The United States had laws at this time that prohibited the disposal of waste in designated
waterways, but they were intended to protect navigation and did not make the endangerment of human
health a crime. See infra note 60.
3 For a discussion of the similarities between the environmental laws of the United States and Japan,
see generally Susan Ridgley, Environmental Protection Agreements in Japan and the United States, 5 PAC.
RIM L. & POL'Y J. 639 (1996).
4  David P. Hackett, Environmental Regulation in Japan, INT'L ENVTL. L. SPECIAL REP. 329, 329

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