Mitsubishi Rainforest Victory:
A Progress Report

With their arms, locked inside concrete barrels,
Wetlands activists blockade Mitsubishi's corporate office.

Of all the campaigns we've won, perhaps none is more confusing and more complex than our Mitsubishi rainforest campaign. While the protest phase of the campaign ended with a significant agreement within two Mitsubishi companies, the subsequent reforms by other Mitsubishi companies have been arguably far more significant.

The Boycott Mitsubishi campaign was one of our longest and hardest fought battles:

* we protested Mitsubishi auto dealerships like Potemkin;

* we embarassed Mitsubishi with protests at the New York Auto Show;

* we made a nuisance of ourselves to Nobody Beats The Wiz, the largest regional seller of Mitsubishi electronics, with frequent protests at their stores;

* we dropped banners from and blockaded the corporate office of Mitsubishi International;

* and when the Mitsubishi forests protests stopped, we joined groups like the International Marine Mammal Project and International Fund for Animal Welfare in protesting their destruction of whale habitat in Mexico—won on that issue, too. (more)

Even before Rainforest Action Network declared a decisive victory, Mitsubishi was beginning to inch in the right direction. In 1996, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the San Francisco-based group that is spearheaded the boycott, agreed to halt civil disobedience at Mitsubishi's auto shows, and in return Mitsubishi Motor Sales America and Mitsubishi Electric America have paid Rocky Mountain Institute of Snowmass, Colorado $200,000 to conduct a series of studies on how to make forestry more sustainable. (more)

The turning point on the campaign came on Feburary 11th,1998, when Rainforest Action Network reached a significant agreement with Mitsubishi Motor Sales America and Mitsubishi Electric America, who pledged to end use of old-growth forest products and phase out the use of tree- based paper and packaging products by the year 2002, in favor of alternative fibers and committed to an unprecedented top-to-bottom environmental review of their business activities. (more)

While this fell far short of the kind of victory Wetlands activists had hoped for, we've seen continual progress in the Mitsubishi keiretsu (corporate family) since that time.

On December 9th, 1998 the two Mitsubishi companies that reached an agreement with RAN reaffirmed their commitment by including themselves among a list of 27 major companies that publically joined Coastal Rainforest Coalition in committing to no longer will use or sell wood and paper products made from 'old growth' forests. (more)

On November Nov. 11, 2002, Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) Chairman Minoru Makihara has announced MC's policy of endorsing third party certification for all of its forest product operations. (more)

On June 29, 2005, Mitsubishi Paper Mills has announced it will stop using woodchips from old-growth forests. Their new policy is to buy only woodchips "sourced from plantations or second growth forests of environmentally benign, and reclaimed wood." (more)

On September 20, 2005, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac), a private company in northeastern Alberta owned by Mitsubishi Corporation (70 per cent) and Oji Paper Co. Ltd. (30 per cent), has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited certifier, SmartWood, in recognition of the company's "demonstrated environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management practices." (more)

While all of these are positive steps, Mitsubishi operations continue to exact a heavy toll on the planet. The company has a long way to go, but we remain hopeful that we will see continued improvement in the years to come.


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