Japan will soon have the World’s Largest floating Solar Power Plant


The article describes Japan’s undertaking of another project to provide for the country’s energy needs – by constructing floating solar plants. Set to be constructed in the Hyogo Prefecture, the plants are expected to be completed around March next year.

To construct what is being touted as “the world’s largest floating solar power plant” in the span of a few months is no small feat. The speed at which such measures to adopt ‘green’ forms of energy are being carried out is a testament to the aftereffects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Previously, around 30% of Japan’s electrical power had been generated by nuclear reactors (World-nuclear.org, 2014). Now with future nuclear projects now on indefinite hold, there exists an increasing need to seek an alternative source of stable energy production.

Japan has begun to adopt green energy as a means to fill that vacuum, and this project is one such means of harnessing that energy for use. Residents have noted that their living environments are being transformed by the construction of solar panels in residential spaces, even appearing near rivers and replacing rice paddies (Tofugu.com, 2014).

However, it is also important to examine the nature of Japan’s solar revolution and its impact on the environment. Referring to the article, by constructing a plant on a lake, there are already implications that the project intrudes into the lake’s ecology. As such, the plant’s efficiency should not be the sole focal point, as it also has to be examined vis-a-vis its surrounding environment. The article mentions how the plant’s structure would enable the water of the lake to provide cooling for the plant. By doing so, the plant is claimed to be able to generate less heat, making efficiency of operations “superior by 11%”.

Yet less heat does not equate to no heat being generated by the operations of the solar plant. There is no mention of what happens to the lakewater after it has been used for cooling the plant’s solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. Should the heated water be pumped back into the lake, the lake’s ecology and marine life would be affected by such changes in the water’s temperature. The article makes no effort to address such possible concerns, instead choosing to emphasize the attractiveness of having an efficient source of energy via graphs, claiming that “evidence that barriers to clean technology can be overcome”.

Solar panels have thus increasingly found their way into natural spaces. As mentioned above, solar panels have also been installed by riversides and mountains. Besides the transformation of urban areas, the natural environment is also being shaped by the drive towards a ‘green’ sustainable form of energy. Solar energy plants are able to promise a steady supply of energy without greenhouse gas emission and without the same degree of risk as nuclear energy. Yet at the same time, can it truly be ‘green’ if it involves the replacement of nature with something artificial, or if the pursuit of solar energy results in negative consequences for the environment?

I realize that this is not a question easily answered, nor will such a debate come to a concrete conclusion as sustainable forms of energy come with their respective advantages and disadvantages. While Japan appears to have taken increasing measures towards pursuing solar power, going as far as to invent sun-chasing solar panels (Solardaily.com, 2014), it remains to be seen how much of a balance can be struck between the natural environment and such man-made inventions.


Solardaily.com,. (2014). Japan firm develops ‘sun-chasing’ solar panels. Retrieved 28 September 2014, from http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Japan_firm_develops_sun-chasing_solar_panels_999.html

Tofugu.com,. (2014). Japan’s Solar Revolution – The Sky’s (Not) the Limit. Retrieved 28 September 2014, from http://www.tofugu.com/2014/05/29/japans-solar-revolution-the-skys-not-the-limit/

World-nuclear.org,. (2014). Nuclear Power in Japan – Japanese Nuclear Energy. Retrieved 28 September 2014, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/Japan/

Eco-friendly employees can now accumulate company-specific eco-points to exchange for days off

The article reports on the increasing number of Japanese businesses which have chosen to institute an eco-points systems to encourage employees and their families to adopt environmentally friendly behaviour. It focuses on several employees who speak about their motivations for participating in their respective companies’ renditions, and the effects of it on themselves, or their immediate family.

What seems most telling is that the eco-points system is a reward system. As with any other loyalty scheme, a certain number of points can be exchanged for a material reward, which in this cases ranges from a bicycle to days off. The promise of reward is what seems to be the driving factor behind  Mr. Jōko’s daily routine of hunting down events to which he may go during the weekend and report his attendance in exchange for eco-points – “if I must go out, then I might as well go somewhere that allows me to accumulate more points”.  This shows that participation is not born out of a ‘Japanese’ desire to ‘live in harmony with nature’ (Kalland and Asquith, 1997) and thus, protect it. It was from a clear desire to exchange eco-points for the abovementioned rewards and apart from personal gains, he does not mention it as part of a larger blueprint or effort for environmental preservation.

While benefits such as that mentioned by Mr. Jōko include savings on utility bills and more conversational topics at the dinner table, the intentions behind the design of the scheme are clear – to widen their target audience to include employees’ families so that more people are environmentally aware or inclined to change their behaviour. However, if the voluntary nature of the nationwide scheme means that only some companies will participate, thus limiting the net impact. The scope of the scheme is also such that it alone may not be sufficient to influence sociocultural norms permanently. In making the scheme akin to a game with the sole goal of earning points for rewards, it achieves immediate success and fair takeup rates. Yet should the scheme end or companies deem participation surplus to requirement, will the changes in behaviour shown by participants persist?

If one were to consider the scheme successful, be it in the short run or long term, then it speaks of a problem symptomatic in Japanese society. Although it is an urban detachment in nostalgia experienced by contemporary city-dwellers that Kirby (2011) refers to, I believe that none of the participants truly see beyond the exhortations to be environmentally aware and ‘eco-friendly’, or the material rewards co-operation has brought them. A similar detachment displayed in environmental conservation movements by civilians and businesses alike may prove detrimental to a more lasting commitment that will continue beyond the scheme’s lifespan.


Asquith, Pamela J, and Arne Kalland. 1997. Japanese Images Of Nature. 1st ed. Richmond: Curzon Press

Kirby, P. W. 2011. Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan. 1st ed. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

The article may be found at: http://digital.asahi.com/articles/DA3S11355016.html?iref=comkiji_txt_end_s_kjid_DA3S11355016 1/

For additional information on eco-points:

Eco-Akushon-Pointo Ni Kansuru Gaidorain Kaisetsuhen (Guidelines Regarding Eco-Action Points – An Explanation). 2014. Ebook. 1st ed. Tokyo: Environmental Policy Bureau. Accessed September 24. http://www.env.go.jp/policy/eco-point/guideline/exp.pdf.

Japan Takes Holidays to G8 High with Mountain Day!

Japan Takes Holidays to G8 High with Mountain Day

Link: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/japan-takes-holidays-g8-high-mountain-day-112611881.html

This article introduces a newly established holiday called Mountain Day in Japan which will be celebrated annually on August 11, with effect from 2016. The passage suggests that a primary incentive of such a holiday is to provide people with “opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate blessings from mountains.” In addition to this, Mountain Day seeks to provide salarymen with more vacation time, away from their stuffy office cubicles.

The article describes the relationship between Japan and the environment as a harmonious one whereby Japanese, especially the older generations, would enjoy trekking up the mountains. During winter, Japanese and even foreigners will head to the snowy slopes to ski and snowboard. However, realistically speaking, more attention is often given to the various activities rather than to nature itself. In Moon’s words, “nature (is) turned into a commodity wrapped with other attractions” and thus, becomes the backdrop beneath everything else. Furthermore, by creating a holiday for people to head to the mountains, there is bound to be destruction of nature due to increased human activities. Subsequently, from an economic perspective, additional destruction will be inevitable when more facilities are built to meet people’s needs. How is it that Japan can still claim to be green when there seems to be more damage done to the environment?

The article goes on to explain how Japan is a nature-loving country as a result of a Shinto-inspired culture. On top of Mountain Day, there are also other holidays celebrating nature such as Ocean Day (or Marine Day) and Greenery Day. Shintoism comes into play when people continue believing in some of the myths. For instance, mountains and wilderness are believed to house many spirits and it is important to pay respects to the mountains, so as to appease the spirits (Kalland and Asquith, 1997). As Kirby (2011) explains, Shintoism may not be adopted by many in contemporary urban Japan but the legacy of Shintoism permeates all stages of Japanese society. In which, appreciation of “Japanese nature” is seen as a way of expressing one’s Japaneseness. I would argue that Japan is not as nature-loving as the article claims to be. By pinning a specific day for the celebration of mountains, the holiday serves as a reminder to Japanese that one should appreciate their mountains – therefore, it is not an inherent characteristic amongst Japanese.

To conclude, Japan provides the illusion of being green due to the vast amount of green landmass but in practice, a lot of the activities neglect the true existence of nature. Instead, nature’s existence is often suppressed by greater economic benefits.

Words: 432


Asquith, P. and Kalland, A. (1997). ‘Japanese Perceptions of Nature: Ideals and Illusions’. In Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. Curzon Press, pp.1-35.

Kirby, P. (2011). Troubled natures. 1st ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp.69-84.

Moon, O. (1997). ‘Marketing Nature in Rural Japan’. In Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives, P. J. Asquith and A. Kalland, Richmond. Curzon Press, pp.221-235.

Tokyo combats flood threats with second mammoth reservoir

Article: Tokyo combats flood threats with second mammoth reservoir

The article centres on the construction of Japan’s second largest underground reservoir built underneath one of the world’s second-biggest by land area after New York City (Adelman, 2014). It follows after the first underground reservoir built in 1993 in western Tokyo, to control the amount of river discharge in the Naka River Basin by channelling water underground and then funnelling the floodwaters to the nearby Edo River (Zolbert, 2012). Throughout the article, I observed how the author constantly reminds the reader on the uniqueness of the solution. There is a general idea that the flood management is designed to meet the unique needs of Japan’s relationship with its environment and at the end, paints a positive futuristic outlook for countries with similar characteristics like Hong Kong and Japan to follow suit.

Upon reading the article, I found it interesting how the author paints the world to be in awe at the remarkable solution Japan has developed in managing a problem common to many metropolitan cities in the world. The recognition of a “unique-to-Japan” strategy subtly underlines the continued existence of a stereotype towards the Japanese proposed love for nature despite many scholars like Kalland and Asquith who have called it a myth (Kalland and Asquith, 1997).  Bearing in mind that the Japanese have at some point attempted to control and dominate the environment, I wondered how they were so willing in embracing the compliments the world was throwing at them for their “note-worthy” and “ingenious” solution as many experts point out in the article. Perhaps the eagerness could be interpreted as an effort to remind the world about the “nihonjinron” values as well as how nature is embodied within the Japanese nature and gene pool which Kirby argues against (Kirby, 2011).

 While the article does not explicitly indicate Japan and the subject of “green”, it does suggest a sort of harmony in which Japan strives to achieve with its environment. From remarking at its ability to adapt to the problems created by the concrete footprint in cities, we get an idea at what the author is trying to say, “Japan has done it again”. It has once again shown us its capabilities in bringing into control the nature that the Western claim to be “wild” (Kalland and Asquith, 1997), creating an environment where people can live harmoniously with the threats of nature.

 Despite the world’s commendation of Japan’s breakthrough technology in adapting to the environment, I beg to differ that the country is as green as it portrays itself to be. Much less, its supposed love for nature. The history of Japan’s dam siting shows how this is not the first time the government is investing a large sum of money and resources in the investment of a facility said to manage flood and improve the lives of the people. But in the case of the underground reservoir, citizens not only supported the government’s decision to construct it but also made several requests for it following the destructive impacts of typhoons. Through all this, I notice the lack of concern for the possible environmental impacts of a man-made feature of such a massive scale. Much like the protests against dam siting in the 1970s and 1980s, resistance were generally against the human impacts of flooding out villages and less on the possible ecological impacts the dams would have on the river and aquatic animals (Aldrich, 2008). Similar in this article, the Japanese triumph and little is mentioned about the possible consequences of constructing such a massive underground reservoir. In fact, a quick search on the internet also revealed little protests or concerns regarding the amount of energy the facility might consume. 5 gigantic vertical shafts with turbines of 14000 horsepower, imagine the carbon footprint of that much less 2 of that. This made me consider Kirby’s argument about the Japanese engagement with nature. Perhaps being out of sight is out of mind, hence by putting such a massive facility out of sight, the government indirectly removes the mirror for them to look at themselves looking at nature (Kirby, 2011).


 Figure 1. Schematic of the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channelhttp://web-japan.org/trends/11_tech-life/tec130312.html


 Aldrich, D. P. (2008). Site fights: divisive facilities and civil society in Japan and the West. Ithaca, Cornell University Press.

Adelman, J. (2014). Tokyo combats flood threats with second mammoth reservoir. The Japan Times, 17 August 2014 (accessed on 9 September 2014)

Zolbert, A., (2012) How giant tunnels protect Tokyo from flood threat. CNN Official Website, (accessed on 9 September 2014) http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/31/world/asia/japan-flood-tunnel/

Kalland, A. and Asquith, P.J. (1997) Japanese Perceptions of Nature: ideals and illusions. Japanese Images of Nature, UK: Curzon

Kirby, P. W. (2011). Troubled natures: waste, environment, Japan. Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press.

Green power blooms as Japan unveils hydrangea solar cell


Article: Green power blooms as Japan unveils hydrangea solar cell (19 August 2014)

Link: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/green-power-blooms-as/1320204.html

This article brings in a new take on green energy with aesthetic values in Japan as it introduces the hydrangea solar cell; the dye –sensitized cells can be doubled as decorations when they are molded into various designs like flowers and animated characters.

Here, Japan is being portrayed to be enhancing its “green” image to the world, this time not only are the Japanese seeking new environmentally-friendly energy resources but they are also trying to incorporate aesthetics appeal to reach out to the public. For instance the citizens are not satisfied with nuclear plants and wind power generation as they still bring in other problems such as radiation and undesirable noises despite being noted as environmentally friendly. Utilizing aesthetic designs like flowers, the industry directly taps on the Japanese innate ‘love for nature’ (Kalland and Asquith, 1997) and market the solar cells as “enjoyable” energy resources. Hence other than Eco-friendliness, “green” encompasses aesthetic aspects too in the case of Japan.

From the article, granted it is noteworthy for Japan to redefine “green” through hydrangea solar cells and appeal to the community, it is imperative to recognize that they still serve little purposes in alleviating the dilemma that Japan is currently facing. The Japanese government is actively pursuing alternative energy to replace nuclear energy due to the rising protests of nuclear usage since the last nuclear plant leaks in Fukushima. While the 20 centimeter wide hydrangea solar cell box can be a great addition to the household decorations, it provides low practical use in terms of overall energy contribution as each box only provides enough energy to charge a smartphone twice. In addition, the article also admitted that the energy hydrangea solar cells can offer is just “small beer” compared to the wind power farms in Japan.

While presented with “enjoyable energy”, the highlight of hydrangea solar cells can also be problematic as it shifts the focus away from the necessitation to break off from nuclear energy reliance. With every new introduction of energy resources, Japan will have more alternatives to depend on. However Japan is in need of substitutes capable of fueling the country instead of fulfilling aesthetic appeals. Given the limited pool of substitutes as of now, the government and research industries will be required to seek even more effective alternatives should Japan choose to be thoroughly free from nuclear reliance in the near future.


Asquith, Pamela and Arne Kalland. 1997. ‘Japanese Perceptions of Nature: Ideals and Illusions’. In Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives, ed. Arne Kalland and Pamela Asquith. Surrey, Curzon Press: 1-35.

A ‘green’ Tokyo Olympics?

File photo of an aerial view shows people sitting in formation to the words "thank you" and displaying signs that collectively read &quot...

Article: A year after winning Olympics, Tokyo faces hurdles in move from bid to build

Link: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/winning-olympics-tokyo-faces-hurdles-move-bid-build-114104032–oly.html

This article is about challenges faced in building the new National Stadium in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. In addition to ballooning costs and difficulty fulfilling a vision of hosting the Games within 25 km of Tokyo’s vicinity, the article devotes a section to environmental concerns surrounding this sporting event. Despite promoting sustainability and the use of eco-friendly technology throughout Tokyo, environmentalists fear that hosting the Games will be at the expense of rare green areas in the crowded city. It highlights the risks faced by a seaside park which is proposed as the site for some of the Olympic water sports. This move threatens the park which features pine forests and a bird sanctuary as it will require cutting down most of the trees and dumping fresh water (trucked from far inland) into the sea, which then may damage the wetlands ecosystem.

The political ecology is defined by the pressure to deliver the promises made by the Japanese government when they put in their bid for the event. As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, nature in Tokyo consists of highly controlled areas of parks and gardens. Here, Japan’s image of being ‘green’ is strongly reflected as something superficial in the face of economic gains from hosting the international sporting event. This supports Kirby’s view that nature is appropriated for social interactions, and Totman’s idea that nature is ‘a matter of recreation and luxury’. Indeed, were these small pieces of greenery to disappear, it implies that this city, a representative of Japan, is unable protect its ‘green’ environment in the face of international pressures, appearing less as a ‘green’ nation to the world. This was heatedly conveyed through the words of an activist who questioned “how does destroying nature equal hospitality?” to one of the mantras of the Tokyo’s bid.

However, these issues have the support of environmental activists and an international audience to leverage for greater ‘green’ considerations when planning and building for the Tokyo Olympics. This wider media responses and support signal hope for a city at the cross-roads between staying ‘green’ and going ‘brown’.

Want $30,000 Off Your Green Car? Head to Japan


This article highlights Japan’s continuing efforts to promote zero-emission cars, in this case by supplying a thus-far unsurpassed (if true) amount of subsidy per vehicle to the owners of Toyota Motor’s first hydrogen-powered car, a vehicle that does not release carbon-based pollutant exhaust from its fuel source.

One line in the passage summarizes the aspect of ‘green’ Japan is associated with here perfectly. Thanh Ha Pham notes that “fuel cells are one of the few frontiers where Japan can lead the market”, echoing the rest of the passages’ focus on Japan’s role as a country on the frontier of new technologies that promote the production of ‘green energy’.

The economic aspect looms large over this story, as might be expected. The article notes that the Japanese government had already unveiled plans to generate “1 trillion yen in revenue by 2030”, plans in which the spread of the cars is an important first step. Also, the subsidy is also slated to by far surpass any given so far, with China and California being quoted as examples. But as Moon (1997, in Kalland and Asquith) has noted, green needs to make money as well to catch on, and as Kirby (2011) observed the government often plays a role in affecting popular views on nature – if the subsidies help to sweeten the transition, it is at worst a necessary evil.

One might question if the ‘green’ car is truly so. As much as Waley (2008) and Aldritch (2011) have to say about water and dams, they also make the wider point that attempts to affect nature, whether to control or live with it, have wide-ranging side effects that are hard to track.

Similarly, one wonders if the processes required to create cost-efficient car parts and to make the money used for subsidies are themselves ‘green’ in the same sense, or indeed any sense of the word at all. However, the fact that they may not be may yet be another necessary evil. Un-green processes are still firmly entrenched in the world’s production infrastructure. Even supposedly green technologies like solar panels are implicated by the toxic by-products of their construction.

The zero-emission vehicle is not free of this problem, but it reduces it in the long term. Well regulated it is a step in the right direction, and the more steps taken that-a-ways, the better.



Aldrich, D. (2008). Site fights. 1st ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp.95-118.

Asquith, P. and Kalland, A. (1997). Japanese images of nature. 1st ed. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, pp.221-235.

Kirby, P. (2011). Troubled natures. 1st ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, pp.69-84.

Waley, P. and Aberg, E. (2011). Finding space for flowing water in Japan’s densely populated landscapes. Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, 43(10), pp.2321–2336.

Culture and nature vie over ancient hinoki

Article: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/02/15/environment/culture-and-nature-vie-over-ancient-hinoki/#.VAxAxWSSy1J

As the title suggests, my article focuses on the debate over the relationship between culture and nature and how to achieve a balance between the two. Japan’s hinoki forests are depleting at a rapid rate as timber is in demand for the maintenance and construction of traditional temples and shrines. The Forestry Agency has decided to integrate restoration plans to their already existing conservation policies to harmonize the forest into its more natural state. This is indeed an improvement from plantation forests that reflects only a superficial attempt at forestry protection.

This dispute between environmental, cultural and economic concerns requires a compromise that cannot be easily obtained. In relation to what Kirby have said, the Japanese love of nature is a superficial ideal that ignores any ecological behaviors that causes environmental degradation. (72) Indeed, after reading this article, it is hard to picture Japan as a “green” nation when its natural hinoki forests are on the verge of depletion. Besides that, the article also examines who controls and determines the access to these resources. How does the Forestry Agency decide how much trees should be logged and auctioned off to timber companies without excessively harming the environment?

Furthermore, this also begs the question of whether culture is more important than nature. At first glance, nature and culture cannot seem to coexist, given that culture is an anthropological concept. However, as stated by Kalland and Asquith, nature is an integral part of Shinto, where the kami is believed to reside in nature entities and also in Buddhism, where humans should strive to live in harmony with nature. (2) Thus, it is ironic that the Japanese seeks to destroy nature by using the hinoki trees to reconstruct their shrines and temples when their cultures demand them to treasure it. Perhaps what Japan desires is not so much a preservation of culture as to gain economic benefits from the promotion of their cultures.

Nature as a commodity has been a perpetual problem in Japan and it is interesting to see whether nature can subsist with the increased emphasis on culture. This artice shows that there is substantial effort by the government to present a “green” Japan through the conservation and restoration of depleted natural resources, though the success of these strategies have yet to be determined.


Asquith, Pamela, and Arne Kalland. Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. Surrey: Curzon Press, 1997. Print.

Kirby, Peter Wynn. Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011. Print.

Japan’s ailing rural towns push free beer, other perks to urbanites in tax-sharing drive

Article: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/15/national/social-issues/japans-ailing-rural-towns-push-free-beer-perks-urbanites-tax-sharing-drive/#.VArPEmSSwTI

As the title suggests, the article focuses on how the popular muraokoshi undo movement, as suggested by Moon, has propelled popular support for Furusato policies employed by the local governments. I have chosen this article as it clearly articulates the various motivations of the multitude of actors involved in this movement. These include the local government, various interest groups, villagers, as well as urbanites.

The Abe administration under current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe serves as the largest proponent of the movement. Given that local elections are drawing near, the administration is thus driven towards success, which would put them in favorable light. As quoted in the article, their success indicator is to ‘invigorate rural economies before local elections’ in 2015. Granted, it appears that power serves as a motivating factor, but national interest is too a powerful influencing force. Propelled by fears that ‘900 population centers may disappear within a generation’, the Abe administration is thus morally obligated to prevent such a phenomenon. Based on reports, the Furusato movement was focused on ‘increasing the non-resident population’ instead of popular belief – that economic motivation was the key factor involved.

Yet while that is the official statement made public, it is undeniable that economic factors are key to the success of the Furusato movement. The article shows how varying interest groups have lobbied in favor of Furusato, since the movement would help boost Japan’s regional economic influence. As a result, the government has since ‘pledged 4 trillion to boost railway and road construction projects’. Such projects serve to increase ease of travel to rural ‘furusatos’, which in turn increases economic revenue for the villagers.

Undeniably, increased economic revenue (Moon) is of most importance to the villagers. Due to constant outmigration as well as an aging population, rural villages have begun to find it hard to use farming as their source of livelihood. Surviving on farming is thus not lucrative – other sources of income are thus necessary. This also points back to the commodification of nature for Man’s use, as mentioned in Moon’s piece.

And lastly, the article suggests that contributions to the Furusato movement are largely motivated by moral obligation. (Moon, Robertson) For instance, Hisako Yoshida, a tax accountant, only started contributing to the movement from normative pressures. Given that her clients are all participants in the system, she sought a connection with them by participating in it as well. Besides, considering the trend of feeling displaced and lacking a place of belonging, urbanites are thus more willing to donate and contribute. This is further supported by policies employed by the government, which allows them tax deductions, and ‘ease of donation through simplification of payment procedures’. Doing so allows them to feel a sense of belonging to a ‘furusato’ of their own, be it their hometown, or an ‘adoptive’ village they have chosen.

While the Furusato movement has gained much ground within the 6 years of its implementation, I am of the opinion that it is not all good and may actually be rather unsustainable. For instance, the article mentioned that the movement achieved a ‘record 65 billion’ in donations – which sounds like a massive amount. Yet upon closer inspection, one realizes that this amount is as such, only because of the two major natural disasters that happened then (earthquake and tsunami). This is a worrying sign as the losses borne as a result of the disasters might be larger than that of donations. Thus, there might be a net loss as opposed to a net gain. Besides, there is the question of transparency – how much of the funds are being actually used for revitalisation? Also, how sustainable are these sources of donation?

Besides, annual donations do not improve the situation of population decline. Evident from research I have done, it appears that the ‘in-migration’ is largely made up of nature tourists (kalland and asquith) who visit during their holidays, or retirees who seek oneness with nature in their old age. As such, these trends imply that these rural population centers are still susceptible to disappearing, as nature tourists are unlikely to focus on maintaining these rural centers.

Also, as Moon and Robertson suggest, by fuelling these movements and facilitating construction of rail and transport services, environmental degradation is a necessary evil that they have to face.

also – in comparison to the articles on dams, I found it highly ironic that the government could make deliberate decisions that opt to wipe out numerous villages for dam construction while selectively choosing to preserve certain villages. Here, I wonder – so what exactly is the criteria by which they decide by?


Kalland, A. and Asquith, P.J. (1997) Japanese Perceptions of Nature: ideals and illusions. Japanese Images of Nature,  UK: Curzon

O. Moon, “Marketing Nature in Rural Japan,” in Japanes Images of Nature, P. J. Asquith and A. Kalland, Richmond: Curzon, 1997

Robertson, Jennifer. 1988. ‘Furusato Japan: The Culture and Politics of Nostalgia’. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 1(4): 494-518.