Embargoed until May 10 2017 (11am, CET)
[Japan] Akira Harada, JATAN,, +81 90 9156 1291
[Switzerland] Annina Aeberli, Bruno Manser Fund,, +41 79 1285873
[Germany] Mathias Rittgerott, Rainforest Rescue/Rettet den Regenwald,, +49 170 81 18 516
[Malaysia] Nicholas Mujah, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association,, +60
Over 140,000 signatures delivered to Japanese Embassies around the world demanding no
rainforest destruction or human rights abuses
Banner protests in Sarawak, Malaysia and at Tokyo’s new Olympic Stadium site
week, activists from around the world are staging protests demanding an immediate halt to the
use of tropical wood for construction of the new Olympic facilities in Tokyo. On Wednesday, over
140,000 signatures were delivered to Japanese Embassies in Switzerland and Germany calling
for urgent action by the Japanese government. The demonstrations are a response to evidence
that the Japanese Government is using tropical wood sourced from Shin Yang, a logging
company in the State of Sarawak, Malaysia, with a record of human rights abuses, illegal logging,
and rainforest destruction. Civil society groups are urging an overhaul of the Tokyo Olympics
procurement policy and a thorough investigation into the legality and sustainability of tropical wood
being used for Olympic construction.
On April 3rd 2017, investigators found tropical plywood supplied by Sarawak logging company
Shin Yang being used to mold concrete in the construction of the new Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
[1] On April 27th, Japanese authorities confirmed that the plywood identified on the construction
site was in fact supplied by Shin Yang, and disclosed that it came from Shin Yang’s plywood mill
in Bintulu, Sarawak.
Bilong Oyoi, a former headman from the Penan village of Long Sait who helped to deliver the
petition, is very concerned about tropical plywood from Shin Yang, and likely from other Sarawak
sources, being used at construction sites for Olympic venues: “I would like to forward a message
from the Penan to the respective Japanese authorities: In Sarawak, our forests have been logged,
and there are very few trees left. Please help us to protect what is left of the rainforest.”
Mathias Rittgerott of Rainforest Rescue, who delivered the petition in Germany stated, “The
Olympics is supposed to be all about 'fair play' and 'the youth of the world coming together'. In
reality the human rights of Sarawak's indigenous people and the environment are being
threatened by the Olympics. The use of tropical timber from Sarawak on Olympic construction
sites is nothing to celebrate."
Petition signatories demanded that no tropical timber be used for the construction of Olympic
venues in Tokyo and that Japan must introduce strict and binding standards for timber on legality,
sustainability and human rights. Annina Aeberli of the Bruno Manser Fund, who delivered the
petition to the Japanese Embassy in Switzerland said “The Japanese authorities and the
International Olympic Committee have to take immediate measures to assure that no timber from
contexts of human rights abuses, environmental destruction and violations of laws are allowed at
the construction sites.”
On Wednesday, a group of activists protested in front of the Shin Yang office in Miri, Sarawak,
Malaysia. On May 8th, a protest was held by Japanese NGOs at the Olympic stadium construction
site in Tokyo. Akira Harada of the Japan Tropical Forest Action Network said, “We relayed
increasing concerns within Japan about the role of our country in undermining human rights and
the vanishing tropical forests of Sarawak while authorities greenwash this unacceptable situation”.
To date, the Japanese Government has failed to address the risks of association with rainforest
destruction, illegal logging, and human rights abuses. Nearly all concrete formwork plywood used
in Japanese construction is made from tropical wood, with the overwhelming majority sourced
from the Malaysian state of Sarawak and Indonesia. Sarawak has one of the highest rates of
deforestation in the world and various investigations have revealed the corrupt practices of the
timber business in Sarawak and high risks of illegal logging. Shin Yang is a major supplier of
concrete formwork plywood to Japan and particularly known for their unsustainable logging
practices in the transboundary conservation area known as the Heart of Borneo, for neglecting the
rights of local communities, and for illegal logging.[2]
Olympic authorities defended their use of Shin Yang plywood by stating the panel found on the
construction site was PEFC certified, but environmental organizations point to the fact that timber
from problematic origins could have been mixed in. Shin Yang’s plywood mill in Bintulu also
sources from an area where Shin Yang is committing ongoing human rights abuses against
several Penan indigenous communities.[3]
Activists further argue that the Tokyo Olympic Organising Committee’s timber sourcing code is not
adequate to mitigate the risk of using timber linked to rainforest destruction, illegal logging, and
violations of indigenous rights.[4] In particular, they note that when formwork panels used at a
different construction site are brought to the Stadium, these are exempted from the Code’s
environmental sustainability and human rights requirements.[5] “The Code is effectively allowing
unsustainable tropical wood to be laundered. We should instead be using low risk domestic wood
for the construction of the Olympics,” said Toyo Kawakami from Rainforest Action Network.
In December 2016, over 40 civil society organizations warned the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) and the Japanese authorities about the risks associated with using wood
products from Sarawak and Indonesia.[6]
Actions on Wednesday:
Petition handover at Japanese Embassy in Bern, Switzerland: 10:30am
Petition available here
Petition handover at Japanese Embassy in Berlin, Germany: 11am
Petition available here
Protest in Miri, Malaysia: 7:30am
Pictures from the actions will be available here from 1pm CET on

Notes to editors:
[1] See media release, Urgent investigation required as use of plywood likely linked to tropical
forest destruction and human rights abuses found at construction site of new Tokyo Olympic
Stadium, April 20 2017:
[2] See, for example, Global Witness, Japan’s links to Rainforest Destruction in Malaysia: Risks to
a sustainable 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Dec. 2015
[3] Shin Yang’s plywood mill in Bintulu sources from timber license area LPF/0018 which has been
linked to human rights abuses and is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by Indigenous communities
over violation of their customary right to land. PEFC only requires that 70% of the timber be
derived from certified sources in order to utilize the certification label. See Global Forestry
Services, Chain of Custody of Shin Yang Bintulu Mill ; SUHAKAM (Human
Rights Commission of Malaysia), Report On Penan In Ulu Belaga: Right To Land And Socio-
Economic Development, 2007 ; PEFC Certified Entities: Global Witness, op. cit.
[4] See Open Letter to the International Olympic Committee, Risk of illegal and unsustainable
tropical timber use for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Dec. 6 2016:
[5] Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Sustainable Sourcing Code for Timber
[6] Open Letter to the IOC, op. cit.