Japanese Environmental Policy

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Rieden, Daniel P.
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Japan's rather vague "sustainable development" approach to the global environment is based upon the embedded belief that one's happiness and welfare depends upon economic growth. Because Japan has had success in its economic recovery and expansion, it has "encouraged the view that profit overrides pretense in natural resource use" (15,p26). The government proposes the slogan, "Japan, a country contributing to the world" (32,2-7), but it continually downplays or ignores Japanese economic activities which destroy the environment . Instead, such slogans and catch-phrases, such as "Sustainable development", is part of a process known in Japan as "making air" or creating interest and support for a new idea (32,p28) . But such trumpery has had little effect on society. In summary, Japanese environmental policy is shaped by four forces: through the external pressure of gaiatsu, through scarcity of natural resources within Japan, through its post-war recovery growth incentives, and through the exercise/balance of power contained within the System. These forces are at work under the "Sustainable development" policy. In its ideal, it is the control of economic growth so that future generations can continue to grow, according to the government's definition. This ideal may have improved domestic conditions during the 1970s, but as growth continues, so too do consequences to foreign environments. This System cannot be changed due to the power structure of society . Government serves to protect industries which are beneficiaries to the present System. People and NGOs are powerless to entice change, although mounting foreign pressures may give them support . Despite "sustainable development" policy, Japanese contribution is not helping to sustain the environment, but persists in its growth to the detriment of the environment and people. This is an inherent problem with economic growth-oriented societies . We must reconsider what growth means to society, and if we should continue pursuing it at all . Environmentalists say no; true sustainable development means correcting inefficiencies, education, comprehensive management, and perpetuating creative ideas to further aid suffering populations in the Third World. i
ii, 67 p.
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