Stop Japanese Coal Finance !

63 CSOs Call on JBIC to Reject Financing for Batang Coal Plant in Indonesia

At the proposed project site of the controversial 2,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Batang, Central Java, Indonesia, further cases of human rights violations have been reported. Most recently, the Indonesian army has put the soil in some irrigation canals. It means the destruction of almost all the irrigation systems, as the necessary water flow to the farmland has been cut off. As a result, no water comes to the majority of farmlands which the landowners have not yet agreed to sell or to be acquired, and the farmers who haven’t yet sold the land cannot continue their farming.

On September 25, the undersigned 63 organizations from 20 countries, have submitted the urgent petition as below to call on Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to reject financing for the project, which has been pushed through in the forcible way, neglecting the local people’s opinion and rights.

Despite this serious human rights violation against the local community, JBIC is still considering funding the coal plant in Batang, which will cost US$ 4 billion. Japanese companies, “J Power” Electric Power Development Co. and Itochu Corp, have already decided to invested in the project. And JBIC is currently planning to finance around US$ 1.6 billion.

Ongoing and strong concerns regarding a loss of livelihoods, such as farming and fishing, have been raised persistently by local communities, and the project has been unable to proceed for nearly four years.  67 landowners who own some of the proposed project site are still refusing

to sell their land.

In the end of July, three local villagers came to Japan to submit their objection to JBIC and talked directly to the Japanese decision-makers and public about the serious human rights violations they have experienced, such as intimidation and arbitrary arrest at the hands of

the army, the police and the thugs. (https://sekitan.jp/jbic/?p=1184&lang=en)

To date, JBIC hasn’t yet decided its finance for the project mainly due to the incompletion of the land acquisition. But the military has already destroyed the irrigation system even for the farmland which the landowners haven’t yet sold, and the farmers who haven’t yet sold their land cannot continue the farming due to no water. This situation might be used by JBIC as a excuse for the completion of land acquisition. And JBIC might make a loan agreement with the project proponent on the occasion of the deadline for the financial closure of this project, or around October 6, 2015.

The urgent petition calls on JBIC to reject financing for the project, following its own environmental and social guidelines. JBIC must sincerely listen to the concerns and opinion of the local people, but being not complicit in those serious human rights violations against

the local community the project has resulted in.

(The full text of the petition is below. PDF is downloadable here)

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(This is a translation – The original letter was written in Japanese.)

September 25, 2015

Mr. Shinzo ABE, Prime Minister

Mr. Taro ASO, Minister of Finance

Mr. Hiroshi WATANABE, Governor, CEO, Japan Bank for International Cooperation

 

Urgent Request to Reject Japanese Public Financing

for the Proposed Batang Coal-fired Power Plant, Central Java, Indonesia

 

At the proposed project site of the Batang Coal-Fired Power Plant in Central Java, Indonesia, which the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is currently considering its finance for, the military engineer of the Indonesian army has resumed land clearing with heavy equipment since September 11, 2015, and has put the soil in some irrigation canals. It means the destruction of almost all the irrigation systems, as the necessary water flow to the farmland has been cut off. As a result, no water comes to the majority of farmlands which the landowners have not yet agreed to sell or to be acquired, and the farmers who haven’t yet sold the land cannot continue their farming. We, the undersigned 63 organizations from 20 countries, express our strong objection against and deep regret at the forcible way with which the project has been pushed through, neglecting the local people’s opinion and rights and committing human rights violations in a highly oppressive manner, and call on JBIC not to finance for the project.

Ongoing and strong concerns regarding loss of livelihoods, such as farming and fishing, and health impacts from pollution, have been raised persistently by local communities, and the project has been unable to proceed for nearly four years.  During this period, community leaders opposing the project and landowners refusing to sell their land in the proposed project site have been subject to repeated human rights violations, such as intimidation, violence, and arbitrary arrest and detention at the hands of the army, the police, and other actors. Despite these human rights violations, 67 landowners who own some of the proposed project site are still refusing to sell their land. Also, an administrative court case has been filed at Semarang City, Central Java, questioning the legality of the acquisition process based on Law No. 2 of 2012 on Land Acquisition in this project, and the public hearing is still continuing.

On July 29, 2015, 23 members of the local community submitted an official objection to JBIC.  In the submission, the local community pointed out how the project has failed and will fail to comply with many provisions of the JBIC Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations (the Guidelines), as it has made/will make their life worse and has caused/will cause violations of human rights. JBIC have already conveyed the local community’s objections to the project proponent, according to “Summary of Procedures to Submit Objections concerning JBIC Guidelines.” And the project proponent under the Guidelines is expected to take steps to bring the project into compliance by making appropriate environmental and social considerations.

For one and a half month, however, there have been no improvements on the ground. Instead, further cases of human rights violations have been reported from the local area. The intimidation to force the landowners to sell their land has been continuing by local thugs, who are supposedly hired by the pro group for the project and visited the landowners’ houses in the midnight. When President Joko Widodo came to Batang for the “kick-off construction” ceremony on August 28, 2015, the local community who are opposing the project tried to convey their opposition to the President. But high-pressure water cannons belonging to the army and police prevented them from even coming close to the ceremony venue. Further, despite not having any “consent” of the landowners and farmers, the land clearing work has commenced again by heavy equipment of the Indonesian army since September 11, 2015, who just very easily destroyed the irrigation facility which used to support for the very fertile farmland where the farmers can harvest the rice three times a year.

This situation raises two important questions for us: first is whether the project proponent and the Indonesian government, who have important roles to play in terms of environmental and social considerations in this project, currently have intention to implement the project with appropriate environmental and social considerations according to the Guidelines, and the second is whether they actually have capacity to implement the project with appropriate environmental and social considerations in the future.

JBIC Guidelines states that “If, as a result of its environmental review, JBIC judges that appropriate environmental and social considerations are not ensured, it will encourage the project proponent, through the borrower, to undertake appropriate environmental and social considerations. If appropriate environmental and social considerations are not undertaken, there may be cases where funding is not extended.”

As the deadline for the financial closure of the project is October 6, 2015, it is assumed that JBIC would is being urged to make a decision. Given the following situations, we call on JBIC to reject financing for the project, taking the outcomes of its environmental reviews into account for decisions on funding:

(i)  In the objection paper, the local community pointed out how the project has failed and will fail to comply with many provisions of JBIC Guidelines, which haven’t been improved or solved yet.

(ii)  Even after JBIC had already conveyed the contents of the objection paper to the project proponent, no appropriate environmental and social consideration has been made since then (to rectify matters).

(iii)  In light of the factors, such as the intention and the capacity of the project proponent and host government, who have important roles to play in this project, it is very uncertain whether appropriate environmental and social considerations can be ensured after JBIC makes a decision to finance the project.

We request that the Japanese government and JBIC sincerely listen to the concerns and opinion of the local people and take a strong and resolute position to reject its finance, but being not complicit in those serious human rights violations against the local community the project has resulted in. We will wait for your response.

This letter is endorsed by the following 63 organizations.

350.org

Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)

BankTrack

ECA Watch

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific

Greenpeace East Asia

Greenpeace International

11.11.11, Belgium

NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark

Center for ecology and energy, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Center for Environment – Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina

Friends of the Earth Canada

COECOCEIBA – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica

Les Amis de la Terre – Friends of the Earth France

CounterCurrent ? GegenStroemung, Germany

Urgewald, Germany

The Ecological Justice, Indonesia

Greenpeace Indonesia

Indonesia Civil Society for Foreign Policy Working Group On Infrastructure, Indonesia

KIARA (The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice), Indonesia

Paguyuban UKPWR, Indonesia

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI) – Friends of the Earth Indonesia

WALHI Central Java, Indonesia

WALHI East Java, Indonesia

WALHI Jambi, Indonesia

WALHI West Java, Indonesia

Re:Common, Italy

A SEED JAPAN, Japan

Friends of the Earth Japan

greeneconomy & development and population’s principle laboratory, Japan

Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Japan

Japan Tropical Forest Action Network, Japan

JUBILEE KYUSHU ON WORLD DEBT AND POVERTY, Japan

Kiko Network, Japan

Mekong Watch, Japan

Network for Indonesian Democracy, Japan (NINDJA), Japan

ODA Reform Network ? Kansai, Japan

Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), Japan

Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM) – Friends of the Earth Korea

The Consumers’ Association of Penang, Malaysia

Sahabat Alam Malaysia – Friends of the Earth Malaysia

Third World Network, Malaysia

Both ENDS, the Netherlands

Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria

CREED (Citizens’ Alliance in Reforms for Equitable and Efficient Development), Pakistan

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Pakistan

Farmers Development Center -Bohol, Philippines

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Philippines

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Philippines

KINABUHI Network, Philippines

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Philippines

Women’s Development Center, INC., Philippines

Friends of the Earth Scotland

Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH), Thailand

Energy Watch Thailand, Thailand

Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Thailand

Krabi Anti-Coal Network, Thailand

Save Andaman from Coal Network, Thailand

Thai Climate Justice Working Group, Thailand

Friends of the Earth US

Sierra Club, US

Ulu Foundation, US

GreenID, Vietnam

Contact:

Friends of the Earth Japan

Add: 1-21-9 Komone, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-0037 Japan

Tel:+81 3-6909-5983 Fax:+81 3-6909-5986

Cc: Mr. Masahiro Okafuji, President & Chief Executive Officer, ITOCHU Corporation

Mr. Yasuo Maeda, Chairman, Electric Power Development Co.,Ltd. (J-POWER)

Mr. Masayoshi Kitamura, President, Electric Power Development Co.,Ltd. (J-POWER)

Mr. Teisuke Kitayama, Chairman of the Board, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Mr. Nobuhide Hayashi, President & CEO, Mizuho Bank, Ltd.

Mr. Nobuyuki Hirano, President, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.

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