By now, the entire world realizes that things need to change if we want to preserve our environment, prosperity level, and lifestyle for future generations. However, in a country with over 128 million people and only about 378,000 square kilometers of land to hold both them and four trillion dollars worth of business and manufacturing ventures, environmental issues are more magnified and pressing than they would be elsewhere. This is the situation in Japan. The solution: take solid action on globalization and the environment before it's too late. What is globalization you ask?
The biggest problem in Japan is that initiatives to protect and preserve the environment and the country's natural resources have to be balanced with the fact that Japan needs to continue its manufacturing and exports in order to maintain its position as the fourth largest economy in the world. Since manufacturing involves using large amounts of non-renewable resources (such as mined metals) and massive amounts off fossil fuels (Japan is one of the world's largest consumers of oil and gas), transitioning to more sustainable environmental practices is very difficult and expensive for the Japanese government and Japanese businesses.
In addition, Japan's disregard for the environmental impact of its manufacturing industry in the past has left it with a big deficit to clean up in addition to the change in practices that will preserve what is left. In the 1950s and 1960s, for example, Japan experienced several disasters related to poisonings from industrial waste such as cadmium, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide which has polluted the air, soil, and water and caused what are known as the four big pollution diseases of Japan. In response to these issues, environmental regulations began to tighten in the 1990s and continue to develop and improve as we close out the 2000s.
Today, Japan's ministry of the environment has placed restrictions on land usage, industrial emissions, and waste disposal and has created programs to encourage companies to recycle, reduce their energy usage, switch to sustainable products and energy, and help clean up pollution that has collected from past years. The biggest change, however, is in the attitude of the Japanese people. As early as 1989 the majority of Japanese people were worried about pollution and environmental degradation and believed it was the responsibility of Japan and other industrialized countries to solve environmental issues.
Japan has made good progress on dealing with environmental issues. It even proposed the Kyoto protocol in 1997 which was designed to reduce fossil fuel emissions. However, things are not perfect yet. Japan still struggled with the issues of waste management, water pollution, global warming, nuclear power, overfishing, and urbanization. To read more about Japan, its environmental issues, and the steps it is taking to help protect and improve our common environment without sacrificing economic prosperity, read the articles we have collected on this website. Just use the navigation bar at the top of the page to browse by topic.