Photo/IllutrationEnvironment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi delivers a speech at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid on Dec. 11. (Provided by the Environment Ministry)

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MADRID--Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi proudly announced at a climate change conference here that he is expecting his first child next year, but he failed to promise to wean Japan from coal-fired power for future generations.

A citizens' environmental group derided him with its "Fossil of the Day" award for his remarks.

Koizumi was among government representatives who delivered a speech on greenhouse gas emission targets and other issues at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid on Dec. 11.

Koizumi said he took U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' call for halting dependence on coal as “a message to Japan.”

He emphasized that there has been a growing number of Japanese who think it is necessary to take further action to sever their nation's heavy dependence on coal and reduce carbon emissions.

“I am going to be a father next year,” Koizumi said. “I have a duty to secure the future beyond 2050, which is my future, and, indeed, the future of my child and all children.”

Yet, Koizumi failed to offer specific measures at the conference, which started Dec. 2 and continues through Dec. 13 in the capital of Spain, for taking crucial steps toward the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Japan has been under increasing criticism from other countries and environmental activists for its plan to build additional coal-fired power plants.

With that in mind, Koizumi said that he is aware of global criticism in his speech.

According to sources, the Environment Ministry had sought to announce a measure to reduce coal reliance at the COP25.

Koizumi considered three proposals, including an international commitment to restrict Japan’s export of coal-burning plants, as a centerpiece of Japan’s commitment to the conference, sources said.

In mid-November, a high-ranking ministry official said Koizumi's speech will send a strong message.

However, the prime minister's office did not approve the plan because it would contradict the government's basic energy plan and for other reasons, sources said.

“Three strikes and (you’re) out,” Koizumi complained, according to sources.

Koizumi told reporters on Dec. 9 when he arrived in Spain that, “I tried to deliver as positive a message as possible."

But by that time, he had apparently given up on announcing a new initiative at the conference.

The following day, Koizumi was heard saying that he didn’t have sufficient power to achieve that and it was beyond the ministry’s sphere of influence, according to sources.

Environmental activists criticized Koizumi’s speech.

The Climate Action Network (CAN) on Dec. 11 announced that it awarded the speech the Fossil of the Day.

The international nongovernmental organization chose the speech for the satirical honor because it was disappointing and showed Japan’s backward-looking approach to climate change.

“That is not surprising,” Koizumi said about winning the award. “(The CAN) precisely cited the points that I raised (in my speech),” he added.

(This article was written by Ichiro Matsuo, Keisuke Katori and Toru Ishii, a senior staff writer.)