Green Bond Guidelines 2017 were developed by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan in March 2017, with the aim of ensuring the credibility of the environmental benefits of Green Bonds while reducing the cost and administrative burden on issuers, and to promote the use of Green Bonds in Japan.

The Guidelines, which cover Sustainability-Linked Bonds now, are aligned with the International Capital Market’s principles that are widely accepted in international Sustainable Bond markets. The Guidelines also seek to provide issuers, investors, and other market participants with illustrative examples of specific approaches and interpretations tailored to Japan‘s bond market to aid with decision-making regarding Green Bonds and Sustainability-Linked Bonds.

At the same time, the Guidelines seek to expand Green Bond and Sustainability-Linked Bond issuance while keeping in mind the prevention of “green wash” (proclaiming to be “green” despite having no environmental benefits or whose proceeds have not been appropriately allocated to Green Projects).

Green Bond and Sustainability-Linked Bond Guidelines 2022PDF were developed based on the revision of the GBP as well as the SLBP and in light of market trends surrounding Green Bonds and Sustainability-Linked Bonds. The Guidelines also refer to Sustainability Bonds, stating that the Guidelines also apply to Sustainability Bonds that have the green characteristics.

Basic Concepts of the Green Bond Guidelines

  • Ideally, the Green Bond market is to be developed through interaction based on sufficient information between issuers and investors. To classify the expected elements of Green Bonds in the Guidelines will form the foundation for interactions between the issuers and investors.
  • It is important for both issuers and investors that the credibility of Green Bonds in general is maintained within the market and society. In particular, it is extremely important to prevent green wash bonds from being issued and invested in as Green Bonds in the market.
  • Consideration is given to maintain consistency with the Green Bond Principles which are widely accepted internationally.
  • It is important for issuers to disclose information, and for investors and others to use that information in making assessments. Consequently, market discipline can be exercised to avoid greenwashing while securing the diversity of the approaches of issuers.

Elements that Green Bonds are expected to possess and examples of the possible approaches are organized into three levels ("should," "recommend," and "to be considered") to serve as an indicator of applicability.