On the construction site of the Olympic stadium in Tokyo, environmentalists have discovered sheets of plywood for concrete formwork stamped “SY e-panel”, a label used by Shin Yang – a company deeply implicated in the illegal logging of rainforests on Borneo.
For decades, Borneo’s indigenous Penan people have been fighting the destruction of their rainforest. Yet corrupt politicians and local officials and shady timber companies like Shin Yang are still raking in the millions.
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Japan is a major market for the often illegally logged wood, importing 100 million sheets of plywood annually from the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo. Construction companies use the wood for concrete formwork. In December 2014, Global Witness documented the use of Shin Yang tropical plywood on construction sites in Tokyo.
A number of high-profile construction projects are currently in the works: Japan is modernizing its national stadium in Tokyo that will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. Other sports facilities are being built or renovated.
Most of the contracts have not yet been finalized at this point. There is a risk that companies that use tropical wood will get lucrative orders for projects related to the Olympics. If they do, then the global sports event will be taking place on the backs of the Penan people.
The discovery of tropical plywood on the construction site of the Olympic stadium shows that this is a very real danger.
Please tell the responsible sports officials and politicians to prohibit the use of tropical wood in building contracts for the Olympics.
The Penan people can only survive if we put a stop to the destruction of their forests.