Washington International Law Journal


Susan Ridgley


In an environmental protection agreement, local government regulatory authorities and the regulated industry enter into a binding written agreement that specifies limits on pollution and supplements the applicable regulatory requirements. They have been utilized in Japan for over twenty years. This Comment discusses the content and practical uses of these agreements as they have been used in Japan, and postulates their legal status under three theories: that such agreements are relational social contracts; that they are informal administrative guidance; and that they are civil contracts. The legal character of environmental protection agreements in Japan has never been well-defined, primarily because of lack of litigation. Therefore, this Comment analogizes from the manner in which courts in both Japan and the United States have treated similar land use development agreements. It concludes that environmental protection agreements in the United States could be a valuable supplement to the current regulatory system, as long as agreements are truly voluntary and that some justifiable relationship exists between the conditions imposed and the public good.

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