Media Release: New Report, 67 Japanese companies fail to eliminate suspected illegal, unsustainable wood supply from Sarawak Global efforts to save important tropical forests undermined

Japanese companies are failing to take decisive action to ensure that their products are not implicated in the destruction of tropical forests and resulting adverse impacts on indigenous people, a new report released by Markets for Change and Japan Tropical Forest Action Network reveals.

The new report “Too Little Too Late: the failure of Japan’s housing industry supply chain to take effective action on the devastation of tropical forests and human rights, especially in Sarawak” evaluates the response to requests made a year ago for housing companies, condominium developers, and their suppliers to urgently eliminate from their supply chains all plywood products originating in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Demand from Japan is the key factor driving the logging. It is the major customer for plywood from Sarawak, taking 56% of Sarawak’s plywood exports. Sarawak timber is believed to be present in the plywood supplies of all the 67 companies identified.

“The plywood demand of these 67 companies is driving the devastation of Sarawak’s environment and dispossession of indigenous people, “said the Chief Executive Officer of Markets for Change, Ms Peg Putt.

“There may be as little as five years left before the annihilation of the Heart of Borneo in Sarawak, but the urgency of the situation and their responsibility to take decisive action is being ignored by the many Japanese companies who buy and sell these timber products and use them for floors in new houses and condominiums,” Ms Putt said.

“This disinterested, slow response is extremely disappointing and concerning. It is below international norms for developed countries and exposes Japan to international criticism,” she said. “Even companies making some efforts fall far behind actions taken elsewhere.”

“Japan is a loophole in the efforts of other developed economies to tackle illegal and unsustainable logging.”

“We believe that the informed buyer will not want the beauty of their new home to be at the expense of the biodiverse tropical forests that are the home of indigenous people and where orangutans, clouded leopard, and many other unique species also live,” Ms Putt concluded.

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