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Tokyo might be touted as the ‘Sustainable Olympics’ but behind the high-tech veneer and fancy innovations, are major sponsors like Mizuho, SMBC and Tokio Marine who continue to promote dirty and outdated coal technology that is fueling the climate crisis.

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The industry

Japan’s second largest bank by assets.

The involvement with coal

Since 2016 Mizuho have lent ¥1.4 trillion (US$12.8 billion) to coal plant developers, making them the biggest lender to coal in the world. They also play a central role in helping coal plant developers acquire capital through underwriting their share and bond issuance, to the tune of ¥569 billion (US$5.2 billion).

Member of the Board of Directors

Tatsufumi Sakai

Net income

¥448,893 million (FY 2018 (US$4.1 million)

Employees

30,301 (2018)

The greenwash

Mizuho released a new sustainable finance strategy in May 2019 to great fanfare and invests heavily in promoting its eco-friendliness. However, the reality is that the megabank continues to fund coal-fired power stations such as the highly polluting Van Phong 1 project in Vietnam, and has refused to rule out more in the future. Mizuho remains a multi-billion dollar coal backer.

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The industry

Japanese bank/financial services company (affiliate Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation)

The involvement with coal

SMBC is the third largest private lender to coal plant developers in the world. They have recently financed the Nghi Son 2 coal-fired power plant in Vietnam, which utilises supercritical coal technology and has been challenged by local groups for apparent violations of the Equator Principles (a set of guidelines set by the private-sector for managing environmental and social risks when financing large-scale projects).

Director President (Representative Executive Officer)

Jun Ohta

Net income

¥3.812 trillion (FY 2017)(US$34.8 million)

Employees

28,482 (2019)

The greenwash

In 2018 SMBC declared a policy, in principle, of not financing coal unless the project uses ultra-super critical (USC) or more advanced technologies. Yet USC coal plants still emit more carbon dioxide than any other electricity source in the world, and as most Japanese developers build USC coal plants, SMBC is able to continue its business as usual.

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The industry

The oldest insurance company in Japan, Tokio Marine is one of the world’s leading power and energy sector insurance companies. It operates mainly non-life insurance business in 39 countries.

The involvement with coal

Tokio Marine is the largest insurance underwriter in the power generation sector in Japan. As risk managers they play a silent but essential role in deciding which types of projects can be built and operated. Without their insurance, almost no new coal projects can get the green light.

President & Chief Executive Officer (Representative Director)

Shinichi Hirose

Net income

¥280 billion (FY 2018)(US$2.5 million)

Employees

39,191 (in 2018)

The greenwash

Tokio Marine may have ‘Protecting the Earth’ as one of its core strategic themes but its commitment to a sustainable global environment is variable. While the company has achieved carbon neutral status through CO2 fixation and reduction based on mangrove planting and Tradable Green Certificates, there’s no specific policy regarding CO2 emissions for the factories and power plants that Tokio Marine underwrites. This means they continue to enable the large-scale investment in climate-damaging fossil fuels.

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1 Burden of Disease from Rising Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions in Southeast Asia, Environmental Science & Technology, 2017.
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