I am researching Japan’s environmental problems. In Japan, during the period of rapid financial growth following WWII, there was large-scale industrialization. Various factories were built, and so, the economy changed for the better. However, at the same time, the amount of environmental pollution in Japan also rose. At first, factory directors ignored the problem of environmental pollution. But, starting in the 1990s, environmental protection became an important part of Japanese society.

When I went to Japan, I immediately understood that environmental protection was an important aspect of society. For example, in the Japanese airport, places with trash cans all have five receptacles. That is different from airports in America. One trashcan was for paper, there was another for bottles, and yet another for glass. In the tiny kitchens of Japanese people, there are also 5 different trash receptacles. I went to Japan and did a home-stay, so now, I understand the importance of environmental protection to Japanese people. Therefore, I am researching Japan’s environmental problems.

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  • 1878-1912: Environmental pollution first becomes a concern with the modernization and industrialization associated with the Meiji period
  • 1956: Drainage from chemical factory causes methyl mercury poisoning, or Minamata Disease
  • 1967: Basic Law on Environmental Pollution Control
  • 1971: Environment Agency established
  • 1972: Nature Conservation Law passed
  • 1992: Rio Summit- UN conference on environment and development
  • 1993: Basic Environment Law enacted. Goal: assure good environment for future generations
  • 1997: Kyoto Protocol- international environmental protection agreement made by UN
  • 2001: Environment Agency is promoted to Ministry of the Environment- has more governmental influence
  • Present: Current major issues include- global warming, preservation of the ozone layer, water and soil, waste management and recycling, conservation of the natural environment, and participation in international cooperation


Japanese Reaction to Global Warming

They say the earth is changing and becoming warmer right now. If we do nothing, the earth’s temperature will rise by 2 degrees by the year 2100. And, unfortunately, the water level of the sea will also rise by about 50 cm. Because of this, how to prevent warming has become a world-wide problem. Every year since 1992, international meetings have been held to discuss this problem. In 1997, Japan also had one of these types of meetings.

There are various causes for warming, but about 64% can be attributed to carbon dioxide. In a 1994 investigation, Japan was the world’s 4th largest contributor of carbon dioxide. And, from 1992-1994 in Japan, the amount of carbon dioxide rose 7%.

This increase in carbon dioxide was the reason that Japanese people changed their lifestyle. Before, refrigerators and televisions were widely used; people using ovens, dryers, and other types of electrical appliances were numerous. Moreover, at supermarkets and department stores, when people bought vegetables, fruits, meat or other such items, people wrapped them in plastic and put them in plastic bags. In reality, within our lives, it seems as if the carbon dioxide we give off is 45% of the total amount of pollution-causing carbon dioxide. In order to prevent warming, countries, factories, large companies and so on are not helpless. We must change our individual lives one-by-one in order to affect change. You may say it is convenient and comfortable (to continue on as we have been) but we should aim to not overuse cars and electric appliances. If we do not do this, we will not be able to protect the world.

A Brief History of Japanese Environment

  • Article describing history of government involvement in environmental protection.
  • 環境庁が環境保護の法律をした記事です。

Japan Environmental Problems

  • Main environmental problems in Japan’s society
  • 日本社会について、一番大切な環境問題。

World Environmental Problems

  • Summary of basic environmental problems facing the world
  • 地球の環境問題の要約。

Entry contributed by Cara Ferraro