April 1, 2016
Friend of the Earth Japan, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Kiko Network, and the other Japanese Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) took the urgent protest action in front of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (Headquarter office in Tokyo) on April 1, 2016 regarding the Batang coal-fired power plant in Central Java, Indonesia (2,000 MW. The total project cost is around USD 4.5 billion. ITOCHU Corporation and J-POWER has been investing in.), for which JBIC (100 % financed by Japanese government) is considering its huge finance of around USD 2.1 billion. We urged JBIC to reject financing for the Batang project according to the JBIC Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations (the Guidelines), as the project has repeatedly caused the human rights violations.
In addition, an international petition signed by 230 CSOs from 42 countries (English / Japanese translation) was handed to JBIC, to call on Japanese government and JBIC not to finance the huge public finance for the Batang project, where the project proponents have failed to ensure the social acceptability at the local level and have been trying to proceed the project only in an oppressive way.
Many organizations from all over the world signed-on this international petition even only for three (3) days. The petition was also submitted by the U.S. activists from Friends of the Earth U.S., Sierra Club, and Oil Change International, to the Japanese Embassy at Wasington, D.C. in the U.S., where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited on March 31 (the local time). On April 1, “Solidaritas untuk Keadilan Warga Batang” (SKWB: Solidarity for Batang People’s Justice) also took a protest action in front of the Japanese Embassy at Jakarta, Indonesia. But it is disappointed that the Japanese Embassy at Jakarta refused to receive the same international petition when SKWB tried to hand it.
Left = Protest action in the U.S. (Photo by FoE US) / Right = Protest action in Indonesia (Photo by Greenpeace)
The companies and Indonesian government have applied the law for compulsory land acquisition, and have already declared the one-sided termination of all landowners’ ownership, ahead of its financial closure deadline on April 6, 2016. Some 60 landowners have been refusing to sell their land and were tilling their farmland. However, the project proponents completely blockaded all the access to the unsold farmland on March 24, 2016. This means that the farmers’ means of livelihood have been deprived of.
Local villagers have fiercely resisted the Batang project for more than four years. The project would harm their rice fields, destroy the rich fisheries of the area, and emit toxic air pollution. As a result of their opposition, local community members have been subjected to violence and intimidation at the hands of the army, the police and the thugs.
JBIC has started its environmental review on the Batang project since 2013. JBIC must refuse financing for the project now according to the JBIC Guidelines, as there has been no “social acceptability” and no improvement of human rights situations at the local level.