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World’s key element in solar panels manufactured in Xinjiang under forced labor

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) report last July, China’s share in all key global manufacturing stages of the world’s solar panels exceeds 80%. However, 40% of the world’s polycrystalline silicon (among the key elements) is produced in Xinjiang. Human rights violations and forced labor in the region have been long-standing problems.

Last June, the United States enforced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which bans imports from Xinjiang. The European Union is reportedly considering similar regulations. On December 22, the US Senate Finance Committee launched a probe into eight major Japanese, European, and American automakers concerning possible ties to forced labor in Uyghur.

Unfortunately, Japan’s National Diet is slow on the uptake when it comes to global trends. On December 5, the House of Councilors passed a human rights resolution. It urged “the government of the country concerned” to take responsibility for human rights issues.

However, as with a similar resolution passed last February by the House of Representatives, the Diet did not mention the words “China” or “human rights violations.”

Further going against the times is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. It issued an ordinance requiring the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of newly built houses. The ordinance will take effect in April 2025.

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