String of ‘silly mistakes’ at crippled Fukushima plant prompts concern

Hmmm… Maybe I was wrong that it is a good balance of people, culture and things as I mentioned just now? :X

And yes, seeing how I am able to get more green Japan related news recently, I thought I should just post here and see how. Wanted to start this earlier but my illnesses (both new and old ailments) kept getting in the way :X

Eco-House, Machiya

Author: Wako Toyama

In this article, author says Machiya is very eco-friendly house.
Machiya  are traditional wooden townhouses found throughout Japan and typified in the historical capital of Kyoto.

Machiya is a long wooden home with narrow street frontage, and often containing one or more small courtyard gardens or tsuboniwa.The front of the building traditionally served as shop space.Behind this mise no ma (店の間, “shop space”), the remainder of the main building is divided into “living space”.

Why are they called Eco-House? It’s because Machiya are designed to live deliciously cool in summer without using electric power, or air conditioning fan.

But nowadays, Machiya are rapidly disappearing.

Between 1993 and 2003, over 20% of the machiya in Kyoto were demolished. Roughly forty percent of those demolished were replaced with new modern houses, and another 40% were replaced with high-rise apartment buildings, parking lots over 80% have suffered significant losses to the traditional appearance of their facades.

There are groups, however, which are taking action to protect and restore machiya in Kyoto. One such institution, the “Machiya Machizukuri Fund,” was established in 2005(two thousand and five)

The group works individual machiya owners to restore their buildings and to have them designated as “Structures of Landscape Importance” (景観重要建造物, keikan jūyō kenzōbutsu), under this designation, the structures are protected from demolition without the permission of the mayor of Kyoto.

I think we can learn eco-frindly systems from Machiya and apply it for constructing new house. And we have to restore Machiya because they are traditional houses and have very ‘green’ system.








Taiji Dolphin Park – License to Kill?

Dolphin and whale lovers will be happy to hear the first part of this news: Taiji, the starring town of Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove”, is now planning to partition off an area for tourists and visitors to swim and frolic with the intelligent mammals. The plans are still in its stages of conception, where “research” is being done to determine which section of the cove to use for the marine mammal park.

However, the next part of the news will probably incite indignation (if not anger) in a lot of people spanning from animal activists to environmentalists to sophists worldwide: The cove will be part of the town’s plan to increase tourism flow in the area, but it is in no way an attempt at conservation of marine wildlife. On the contrary, they are hoping the erection of this park will help perpetuate the tradition of whaling and dolphin-hunting (or dolphin-ing?) through means like selling dolphin, whale, and other marine animals’ meat that were implied but not explicitly stated in the article.

In case anyone is uncertain, the aforementioned movie “The Cove” is not nice. It is about how dolphins get corralled and slaughtered yearly by fishermen in Taiji, Japan, and it is a massacre sanctioned by the local government. The movie was released in 2009, but dolphin hunting and whaling activities are still adamantly continued by these fishermen who insist on carrying on the four century old tradition.

In addition to Dolphin Park, the town also has plans to construct a 69-acre Whale Safari. Three guesses as to what cuisine will be sold there.

Obviously this article portrays Japan as a threat to the ecology. Their whaling activities have come under fire, but for reasons incomprehensible to me, they resolutely insist on continuing it. If the IWC is unable to stop whaling activities and dolphin-hunting, there is a very high chance they might become endangered as happened in the other parts of the world.


AFP/xq. (2013, 10 7). Japan dolphin-hunting town to open marine park. Retrieved 10 7, 2013, from Japan dolphin-hunting town to open marine park:

Demetriou, D. (2013, 10 7). Japanese dolphin-killing town in ‘The Cove’ to open marine park. Retrieved from The Telegraph:

Psihoyos, L. (Director). (2009). The Cove [Motion Picture].



No Decision Yet on Disposal Sites for Contaminated Waste in 5 Prefectures

In the light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, radioactive waste accumulated from the disaster has not been “disposed”, nor has it found somewhere else to be stored. This article is another form of “site fight” (Aldrich, 2008) where various contestations between various stakeholders – the central government, local governments of prefectures, and local citizens of the selected and affected prefectures – over the selection of appropriate disposal sites for contaminated waste.

In this article, Japan and her environment are still portrayed as problematic and “not-as-green” due to low efficiency in solving issues regarding the nuclear fallout 2 years after the disaster. Moreover, Japan’s repercussions since the nuclear disaster are constantly in the international spotlight, with experts evaluating the effectiveness of the government and local residents’ efforts in speeding up the process of recovery of their environment, nations and their lives. In addition, notions of political ecology are exemplified in this article through the anecdotes from residents whose livelihoods and relationship with neighbours are strained.

Despite the topic of the article being on radioactive waste and its disposal sites, the thought and action of trying to find ways to dispose, or searching for possible disposal sites are ways of being “green”. It shows the government’s and people’s responsibilities to the environment, the society and their next generation with their efforts to clean up the mess and to prevent further depravation of the environment and society.

It is commendable that the voices of the local government and citizens are heard and have a part in refining the site selection. However, there is no time left for those residents who have been withholding the waste for more than 2 years. Is this “site fight” a situation of Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) syndrome that would possibly waste more time and eventually calls for a more assertive decision made by the central government?


The Asahi Shimbun, (2013), ‘No decision yet on disposal sites for contaminated waste in 5 prefectures’, The Asahi Shimbun, 3 October. Available From: <>. [12 October 2013]

Aldrich, D., 2008. Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Volunteers work to clean up, reforest Kyoto’s ‘Poet’s Mount’

In his article, Johnston laments the damage Mount Ogura, situated in Kyoto, is suffering – “[it] is also a dumping ground for everything… while tree damage from insects is spreading” – as it is a site of heritage, admired by artists past for its beauty and literary value.

He continues that Non-Profit Organizations (NPO), together with private companies and government aid, are working to revitalize the mountain – the “Association of Preservation of Scenic Ogurayama,” together with Mitsubishi-Tokyo UFJ’s Foundation, has put into motion a plan to replant 500-1000 trees a year over the next decade.

While admirable, this ‘green’ reforestation initiative – which reportedly will reduce the risk of forest fires and aid the mountain’s biodiversity – appears to be misleadingly positive. Johnston talks glowingly of restoring the mountain to its former glory, but glosses over several important issues.

First: the problem of illegal dumping. He notes the NPO “People Together for Mount Ogura” works on “garbage cleanup, clearing the hiking paths… and widening the paths or making them safer,” and that their lobbying has convinced the government to install four surveillance cameras. Although it is a start, four cameras is likely insufficient deterrence. Further, government and private organizations’ efforts focus on reforestation, while the NPO merely mitigates the damage. Neither of them aims to stem this problem at its root.

Second: Johnston depicts tourists as victims, not part of the problem. He glosses over the damage done by thousands of tourists cavorting up and down the mountain every year, instead worrying that the view they paid for might be substandard due to dead trees. The tourist “problem” is left unaddressed by all parties.

In leaving these problems unresolved, this ‘green’ initiative displays a major pitfall – a lack of sustainability. Until they are addressed, it is likely Mount Ogura’s restoration efforts are for naught.



Johnston, Eric. “Volunteers work to clean up, reforest Kyoto’s ‘Poet’s Mount’.” The Japan Times, Aug 22, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2013.

Fukushima Watch: Popular Ex-PM Koizumi Comes Out Against Nukes – Review

Author: George Nishiyama

Reviewer: Dora

As the title suggests, this article explains that Junichiro Koizumi, one of the most influential former prime minister in Japan, expressed his disagreement with the re-operation of the nuclear power plants in his recent conference in Nagoya. Mr. Koizumi claims that Japan “should aim to be nuclear-free” despite the fact that the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who reinstated the nuclear power plants is one of Mr. Koizumi’s disciples. Mr. Abe’s objective here is to improve the economy of Japan and he believes that one of the means to achieve this is through the supply of cheap power, thus reusing the nuclear power plants. However, a parallel between “the thinking of those who stress that the Japanese economy can’t survive without nuclear energy” to “the refusal of the Japanese Imperial Army to give up Manchuria,” (an incident that eventually led to Japan’s lost) was painted by Mr. Koizumi in his speech. Moreover, Mr. Koizumi asserts that “we (the government and private sector) can unite toward a dream of achieving a society based on renewable energy. Now is an opportunity, not a pinch.”

Japan is portrayed as a country that is developing towards a better environmental sustainability through an influential politician, Mr. Koizumi, who feels the important need to shift to the use of renewable energy from a nuclear one in this article. He strongly believes that Japan does not need to depend on the use of nuclear power plant to resurrect its economy. Moreover, Nishiyama’s choice of including the fact that Mr. Koizumi was also an individual who promoted nuclear reactors during his period as prime minister made the article particularly convincing.

Nishiyama implies that renewable energy is better than nuclear energy in this article. Therefore, the article describes the idea of ‘green’ as renewable, sustainable and nonhazardous towards human. In addition to this, being ‘green’ is an opportunity that can be realized through the unity of both government and private entities without harming the economy in the long run.


Nishiyama, G. October 2, 2013. Fukushima Watch: Popular Ex-PM Koizumi Comes Out Against Nukes. The Wall Street Journal. [online]


The Newest Eco-Friendly Food- Rice Stomped by Endangered Birds

By Iwata Mari.

Reviewer: Ang Lee Yee Madeline

  In this article, Iwata Mari wrote about the undergoing efforts of the municipal government in Sado Island to conserve, breed and subsequently reintroduce the endangered Asian Crested Ibis to the wild. Faced with a difficult situation of protecting the species, while not jeopardizing on the farmers’ livelihood, the government is looking to promote and market high-priced “Ibis stomped” rice.

  The Ibis conservation project signifies a part of Japan which sees the need to protect biodiversity and to save endangered species. Such an attempt is made possible by engaging in environmentally-friendly practices to restore the agricultural wetland landscape needed to sustain the birds. As Iwata noted, farmers set apart feeding areas in part of their rice fields, introduce only minimal inputs of agricultural chemicals and fertilizer, and made irrigation channels bare so as to not kill off fish and insects that are the staple food of the birds. However, the author failed to take into account the significance of Sado’s conservation efforts beyond its use of environmentally-friendly practices. I argue that Sado’s conservation efforts is important as it moves away from the conventional idea of “fencing” the protected animal. Instead, the conservation effort is paired up with community participation, allowing farming and conservation to go hand in hand.

  Moreover, the “Ibis friendly agriculture” helps add value and price to the certified rice. Quoted from the article, the authorities clearly hoped that the marketing strategy of “Ibis stomped” rice would appeal to some. However, I argue that it is the sense of involvement and contribution to the efforts in preserving the Ibis, that would appeal to consumers to make the purchase.

  Thus, the ‘green’ concept here highlights a conservation effort that not only involves environmentally-friendly practices, but is made possible through the involvement of the community, and the conscious participation of the consumer.


  1. Iwata, M. (2013, August 1). The Newest Eco-Friendly Food- Rice Stomped by Endangered Birds. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from