October 12, 2017

Japanese Banks ill-Equipped to Reform Banking Practices in Line with the Paris Agreement


October 12, 2017

CONTACT: Marie Tanao, 350.org Japan: +81-90-2183-2113, [email protected]

Japanese Banks ill-Equipped to Reform

Banking Practices in Line with the Paris Agreement

Tokyo, Japan — 350.org Japan has revealed how Japan’s seven biggest banks are inadequately prepared to meet the rising demand for environmentally responsible banking practices. Six of seven banks responded with dissatisfying answers to the My Bank My Future petition which urged banks to stop funding fossil fuels and nuclear power in line with the Paris Agreement.(Footnote reference 1&2)

The petition letter, signed by over 1000 individual account holders and delivered on September 22, urged the recipient banks to
i) disclose investments and lending to fossil fuel and nuclear-related companies,
ii) commit to investment and lending policies in line with keeping global warming below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius, and
iii) stop funding fossil fuels and nuclear power projects, and transition these funds towards investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency instead.

In response to the petition, Japan’s three major banks- Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ, Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, explained that they have taken measures such as adopting environmentally and socially responsible principles for project loans and expanding financing for renewable energy projects. However, research conducted by 350.org Japanindicates that all seven banks are heavily involved in financing fossil fuel related companies that exacerbate climate change and none of the banks have policies to restrict such finance.

Full report available here: Energy Finance in Japan: Funding Climate Change and Nuclear Risk https://bit.ly/2yeBYdk

While the three major Japanese banks have adopted the Equator Principles to assess and manage environmental and social risk in financed projects, all are also major funders of the Dakota Access Pipeline project. This project has caused verifiable environmental damage and inflicted human rights abuses on the local population. This points to the limitations of such frameworks, which do not explicitly restrict finance for carbon-intensive projects or companies nor have adequate safeguards to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Shin Furuno, 350.org Divestment Campaigner stated, “The largely inadequate responses to this petition proves that Japan’s Banks are yet to take climate risk seriously. Japan’s financial sector needs to step in line with the Paris Agreement and commit to investment and lending policies to keep global warming below 1.5-2 degrees. More and more customers expect banks to make responsible investments in a safe future.”

On November 6, 350.org Japan will commence a month-long “Let’s Divest” campaign calling on individuals and companies to switch their bank accounts to “Earth Friendly Banks” that do not fund fossil fuels or nuclear. The campaign aims to collect 100 personal and 5 organizational divestments by December 12, the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, to encourage banks to divest from fossil fuels and nuclear and transition finance flows towards a 100% renewable energy society.


Notes to Editors:

  1. The petition carried the signatures of 1,000 concerned account holders to the following banks: Bank of Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ, Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Norinchukin Bank, Japan Post Bank, and Resona Bank.
  2. By October 6th, the deadline set for the banks to respond, 350.org Japan had heard back from Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ (represented by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group), Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (represented by Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group), Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, and Norinchukin Bank. Japan Post Bank’s reply was received only after the deadline had passed. There was no response whatsoever from Resona Bank. 350.org Japan was able to meet with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank for an in-person meeting, at which it was confirmed that the bank had received the signed petition and request for information.