‘Green’ fishery gear key to ocean plastic problem (Jia An & Laura)

The article introduced the persistent problem of marine plastic with fishing gear contributing to 40% of marine waste washed ashore, far exceeding plastic bottles that contribute just 8%. In an effort to reduce marine plastic waste, corporations attempt to utilise “green” materials for fishing equipment. Bringing up that their green material is biodegradable which reduces the impact of the fishing industry on the environment. Several Japanese companies are focusing on developing environmentally friendly materials for fishing tools and promoting their recycling to tackle this issue.

Sakamoto pointed out the reason why fishing tools represent a large proportion of marine plastic waste in Japan as many in the industry do illegal dumping as opposed to recycling or opting for proper waste management as it is a much cheaper option. Despite being able to sell used gear to recycling companies, few actually do so. While Japan constantly paints a rosy picture of the public’s environmentally sustainable efforts to recycle, as highlighted by Kirby concept of  Japan’s vision to achieve “zero-emissions” by directing waste to recycling companies (Kirby, 2011), certain corporations do not carry the same sentiments as the general public as they place their priorities in maximising profits. The exploitation of nature for economic gains reminds us of the Minamata disaster and we see similarities in how different stakeholders are affected by corporate actions. In the past, fishermen made use of fishing gears produced by the Chisso factory, who in turn released hazardous waste into their waters (Walker, 2010). Today, an even wider spectrum of stakeholders are unknowingly supporting corporations that are polluting their waters. This further highlights Walker’s point that Japan’s industrialisation is also “industrialising” themselves. It seems that plastic generation is seen as a driver of Japan’s development only at the expense of the ecosystem.

The “green” aspect of this article is embodied in highlighting recycling corporations’ efforts in tackling an issue of fishing equipment plastic which is represented as one of the main culprits of marine plastic pollution. In response to Japan’s shift towards more sustainable practices, there has been a rise in recycling corporations venturing into the fishing industry to tackle the issue of plastic pollution. These companies are producing fishing gears with biodegradable materials or offering the service of recycling them. This helps fishermen sustain their livelihoods without harming the environment. One of the companies mentioned, Refinverse, can be seen as an eco meister on a corporate scale as they are able to turn used fishing nets into nylon fibres for clothing and plastic resins as raw material, giving the unwanted items a new life.

This is an example of how “some consumer product makers have started taking action to meet U.N. Sustainable development Goals” as mentioned in the article, highlighting Japan’s underlying shift to adopting “sustainable” business practices due to “Gaiatsu” as discussed by Kirby (2011). Companies in Japan succumbing to foreign pressure also emphasises the workings of a larger, global power, thus reflecting the idea of political ecology as mentioned by Robbins (2007).

However, it is important to note that the “green” alternative to conventional fishing gear does not address the root issue of dumping excessive waste into the waters. This illustrates the concept of anthropocentrism, like how bugs in the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind represent a kind of inconvenient truth in our discourse about nature. Humans tend to act in their self-interest and dictate what they feel is best for nature.

To conclude, we feel that Japan is undeniably taking steps towards becoming a more sustainable nation. However, it is important to ensure actions tackle the root cause of the problem (marine plastic pollution) and not seek to distract.

Word count: 609


Sakamoto, Kanoko (2020, 17 October). ‘Green’ fishery gear key to ocean plastic problems. Nikkei Asia. Retrieved from: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Environment/Green-fishery-gear-key-to-ocean-plastic-problems

Kirby, Peter. Wynn (2011). “Constructing Sustainable Japan”. In Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, pp. 160-192. University of Hawai’i Press.

Robbins, Paul (2007). “The Hatchet and the Seed” Political ecology: a critical introduction. Malden MA: Blackwell Pub: 3-16.

Walker, Brett L (2011). Toxic archipelago: a history of industrial disease in Japan. University of Washington Press.

Nestle Japan’s Solution Towards Sustainability? (Aqil & FangLing)

Paper packaging for selected KitKat flavours: Hojicha (credits: FangLing)


News article link: https://www.insider.com/kit-kat-nestle-replaces-plastic-wrap-with-paper-origami-japan-2019-8

In recent years, plastic waste and pollution have gained much attention and generated numerous head turning headlines; conglomerates such as Nestle are increasingly being held accountable for their prevalent use of plastic packaging. In the bid to reduce plastic waste, Nestle Japan has launched the first paper packaging for their KitKat line, specifically their multipack KitKats. This packaging comes with a gimmick that allows the waste paper to be cut out and used as paper for origami. The packaging even comes with a set of instructions on how to fold a paper crane. The switch to paper sees a reduction of 380 tonnes of plastic, a step away from further plastic pollution.

For Nestle Japan, paper seems to be more desirable since its natural origins stood in stark contrast against man-made plastic. Given the global negative connotation with plastics, this initiative by Nestle would seem appropriate at first glance especially since various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Greenpeace, have been putting pressure on Nestle for their incessant use of single-use plastics across the majority of their product lines. With Nestle offices located globally in more than 80 countries, the paper packaging debut in Japan not only paints and reinforces the country’s image as a sustainable and waste efficient country, this assimilation with origami reiterates the traditional Japanese relationship with paper, further justifying the switch to paper. However, upon closer inspection, one could also question if this move is any different from what KitKat Japan has been doing for years with cardboard outer packaging for certain products. Furthermore, virgin paper is used as the replacement and it can be argued that material burden is not reduced but transferred from the plastic to the forestry industry and countries whom Japan imports virgin pulp from. However, the fact remains that this measure possibly maintains the status quo on single-use packaging or even justifies single-use culture, an argument stressed by Greenpeace (Morgan, 2019), an one that is originally propagated by convenience stores and supermarkets.

The case to popularize paper as a more sustainable alternative by reading into a specific perspective of a traditional Japanese culture – origami, can be argued as an attempt at nihonjinron, nationalist discourse mentioned in Kalland and Asquith (1997). By taking on a global discourse of sustainability (finding sustainable alternatives to plastic), Nestle Japan makes links between global sustainability and the specific origami tradition to reinforce the importance of paper to the Japanese society and paints a “green image” of Japan mentioned earlier. Yet, other historical narratives of paper/forestry such as forestry mismanagement and overexploitation are excluded. Political ecology and the complexity surrounding sustainability mentioned by Kirby are also relevant ideas. Each party involved in Nestle’s move towards plastic waste reduction all have their own definitions of what is considered to be a sustainable alternative to plastics as well as specific motivations as to what waste should be or how it should be produced and treated for recycling (Kirby, 2011). 

Hidden behind the ‘green’ movement are the Japanese paper conglomerates bidding for a share of the green pie. For example, the Nippon Paper Group, one of the top papers and pulp companies in Japan, created a “Paperising Promotion Office” in 2018 to promote “paper culture” across Japan. Oji Holdings, their competitor, could possibly be doing the same by being the supplier of this initiative by Nestle though “paper culture” here can be likened to Waley (2000)’s “river culture” where paper is pitched to be sustainable alternative to plastic much like how images of rivers has been controlled, changed and represented in Japan.



Asquith, Pamela J. & Kalland, Arne (1997). Japanese Images of Nature Cultural Perspectives. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Man and Nature in Asia, No. 1, pp. 1-36. Curzon Press.

Morgan Jennifer (2019). We’re going after Nestle. Here’s why. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/21712/were-going-after-nestle-heres-why/.

Kirby, Peter. Wynn (2011). Constructing Sustainable Japan. In Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, pp. 160-192. University of Hawai’i Press

Waley, Paul (2000) Following the flow of Japan’s river culture. Japan Forum, Vol. 12, No.2, pp. 199-217. Talyor and Francis. 

Additional resources:

KitKat advertisement for its new paper packaging (in Japanese): https://buzzgang.jp/main/71531

Nestle’s future plans for sustainable packaging: https://www.nestle.com/ask-nestle/environment/answers/greenpeace-break-free-from-plastic-report

Kitakyushu – The World Capital of Sustainability

Dokai Bay - Water Pollution

Kitakyushu, a city on Kyushu Island, came to be one of Japan’s biggest manufacturing sectors in the 1960s, during which Japan was experiencing sharp economic growth. The city met with problems of air and water pollution due to industrial activities in the area, causing the intense suffering of Dokai Bay, later termed the “Sea of Death”. However, this gave the people of Kitakyushu an opportunity to show the world their expertise in sustainability. The Environmental Pollution Control Bureau (EPCB) was established, along with The City of Kitakyushu Pollution Control Ordinance (CKPCO) later on, which enforced stringent and meticulous regulations on pollution. These were firsts of the many green initiatives which sprouted for Kitakyushu, and together with the people’s cooperation, their environment recovered remarkably and was awarded the title of “Gray City to a Green City”, to lead the globe by example.

World Capital of Sustainability

The environmental issues that the city faced illustrate the ambiguous relationship that Japan has always shared with nature. The control over nature, which resulted in its destruction, followed by the desire to repair and protect nature. Kitakyushu’s successful attempt to alter the consequences of its actions on the environment while promoting economic growth served as a good example to fellow developed countries, making Japan a modern leader in green initiatives. All this was achieved despite previously being one of the most industrial areas in Japan, showing the importance of its transformation in this climate change era.

The implementation of the “Kitakyushu Ecotown Plan” in light of pressing global waste issues, pushes for the recycling of various items such as plastic bottles, automobiles and electric appliances etcetera.  The city aims to recycle both resources and energy while promoting environmentally-conscious activities. With majority of the plan carried out in Hibikinada, Northwestern Kitakyushu, giving the city an edge in issues of sustainability. The prioritisation of recycling and reducing nearly all types of waste coupled with the goal of creating new environmental sectors reflects Kitakyushu’s determination towards a greener future. These further green efforts which developed from their initial pollution problems also supports Japan’s eco-friendly relationship with nature.

However, it is important to delve into any underlying motives Japan has in investing in sustainability efforts. Their destruction of the Dokai Basin parallels the wrecking of the Kinai Basin in the Nara-Heian period, when there was intense abuse of forest areas. (Totman, 2009) Similarly, Kitakyushu only commenced its green initiatives after realising that its environment could not take further pollution. Totman explained the cycle of Japan’s increasingly intensified abuse of its forests over the progression of the 4 periods, along with how Japan managed to fix what they broke each time, thereby depicting their control over nature. Kitakyushu did not suddenly go green because of their love for nature. Instead, it was the fact that nature was their habitat and thus they had to take action to save themselves; revealing their reliance on nature. Plausible economic reasons include the Dokai Basin as a source of fishing resources which is vital to their community. Therefore nature could very well just be an instrument for the Japanese to achieve what they want.

Their aim to attain the title of World Capital of Sustainable Development may be fuelled by the need to uphold their image of their love for nature (Kalland and Asquith, 1997) and the desire to be seen as a pioneer of sustainability by the international community. Their planning for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in which sustainability plays a key role, is another manifestation of this desire. With more green or sustainability related awards on Japan’s shelf, her resume for being a green nation becomes more substantiated which would pave the way for potential investors. This is how Japan might want to be thought of – being the only nation that has a special relationship with nature, rather than actually caring for the environment.

640 words


Clark, T. (2017, December 28). Kitakyushu – The World Capital of Sustainability. Retrieved from https://www.apfed.net/kitakyushu-the-world-capital-of-sustainability/

Totman, C. D. (2009). “Japan’s Forests: Good Days and Bad – Rhythms of Damage and Recovery.” from http://aboutjapan.japansociety.org/content.cfm/japans_forests_good_days_and_bad_–rhythms_of_damage_and_recovery_-.

Kalland, A. and P. J. Asquith (1997). “Japanese perceptions of nature: ideals and illusions.” Japanese Images of Nature. P. J. Asquith and A. Kalland. Richmond, UK, Curzon.



Hot spring bathing tradition stymies Japan’s clean energy ambitions

Steam emerges from a well dug to test geothermal power generation in Hokkaido in October 2015. | KYODO

Steam emerges from a well dug to test geothermal power generation in Hokkaido in October 2015. | KYODO


After the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the use of nuclear energy is largely reduced. Japan is eagerly seeking for new clean energy alternative. Onsen (温泉), the popular Japanese hot spring attracts 120 million of people each year is now being considered. As a resource-poor country, Japan ironically owns the world’s third-largest geothermal reserve, approximating to 23 gigawatts of power which is as powerful as 20 nuclear reactors according to International Energy Agency’s geothermal division. With the pressure of reducing carbon emissions as promised during Paris climate talk, the government wishes to triple its current geothermal capacity by 2030. It claims to reduce Japan’s CO2 emissions by 54.7 million tons a year.

However, the representative from Japan Spa Association as well as hot spring owners are very against this idea of expanding geothermal development. They believe this would lower the temperature for their spa and exhaust the volume. Meanwhile, 80% of geothermal resources lies underneath Onsen and natural parks, developing the capacity leads to more drilling inside the natural parks which is not approved by the Environment Ministry. Environment review on expanding drilling area could take up to 9 years. All of these largely hindered the development of Japan’s new clean energy.

“Green” or “Sustainability” in this context has two aspects. On one end, the government should try to reduce their carbon emissions to save the Earth and achieve environmental sustainability. On the other end of the spectrum, government should not overuse the energy and resources so that they are sustainable. Geothermal energy is considered as a renewable energy with almost unlimited amount of heat generated every day. Currently with only 2% of geothermal resources being utilized, the plan of tripling capacity is reasonable to consider.

So far, the above arguments sound as green as it could be from the perspective of Japanese government. Yet the act of trying to expand drilling areas as much as possible without considering the species and animals in natural parks aligns back with the opinion in Kirby’s article, it has demonstrated how meaningless the term sustainability has become in Japan (Kirby, 2011). In the article, the hot spring owners care very much on their economic interests instead of sustainable resources and environmental sustainability, largely shows the Japanese love for nature is meaningless under economic and political context, leads to the question of whether Japan is the green nation.

Last year, Japan spent ¥18.2 trillion importing fossil fuels to power their electricity needs. We could not say the urge of developing new clean energy is either due to their “greenness” or caused by their economic consideration as eventually a country should seek environmental sustainability when economic condition allows. A nation will only be considered green when its citizen truly possesses the love of nature without being affected by religious, cultural, economic and social factors.

(470 words)


Kirby, P. W. (2011). Troubled natures: waste, environment, Japan. Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press: 160-192.

Tokyo Olympic medals to be made from e-waste


Medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are proposed to be made of metals from electronic products which includes smartphones and other electronic products according to the organising committee. It is potentially viable as Japan has been described as an “urban mine” where the city is a mine where raw materials could be extracted from electronic products. However, there are no implemented systems when it comes to recycling consumer electronics in Japan.

Because of technological advancements, electronic waste is one of the world’s fastest growing waste stream. Man’s relationship with the product ceases the moment they dispose of it and they do not have to understand how the products are treated. Also, people are more likely to throw their spoilt electronics away instead of sending it for repair because of the ease of obtaining electronic products. Thus, Japan’s proposal to extract metals from e-waste is meaningful as it tackles one of the more crucial problems when it comes to maintaining the sustainability of the Earth.

The recycling and reusing of materials is already widespread in Japan as the environmentally-conscious Japanese have internalised the habit of recycling products like plastic and paper. Extending their recycling regime to include electronic wastes creates the image that the Japanese are indeed striving to ameliorate the damage done to the environment. While household appliances carry little precious metals, they are quite significant in terms of their weight and worth.

However, while it appears to be a ‘green’ idea that could potentially benefit the environment, we must not forget this is what Japan desires to present itself to the world – a green nation. It is even more salient when the event at focus is the Olympics; this results in reports, articles and definitely, free publicity and promotion of Japan as green nation. Thus, I argue that the Olympics is used as a platform to show the world how far it has come in terms of recycling and further solidify its position as a green nation just like how it did more than half a century ago when Japan showed the world its recovery from the second world war (Brasor and Tsubuku, 2014).

Moreover, this idea of recycling metal from electronic products is heavily dependent on the private sector’s contribution towards the effort. But their interest might be more of profits rather than doing good for the environment as the extraction of metals from the electronic products are actually profitable (Japantimes, 2013). Thus companies are spurred by the motivations of profit rather than actually conserving the environment when the recycling of precious metals could also be used as secondary raw materials for the factories as well (Wire, n.d.).

Therefore, while the recycling of electronic waste appears to be an effort to show their love for nature on the global arena, this affection for nature is backed by political and economic considerations rather than real love for the nature.

(480 words)


Brasor, Philip and Masako Tsubuku. 2014. “How the Shinkansen Bullet Train Made Tokyo into the Monster It Is Today.” The Guardian. Retrieved September 26, 2016 (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/sep/30/-sp-shinkansen-bullet-train-tokyo-rail-japan-50-years).

Japan Times. 2013. “Recycling of Useful Metals | The Japan Times.” Japan Times RSS. Retrieved September 26, 2016 (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/04/27/editorials/recycling-of-useful-metals/#.v-jvq_b97iv).

Sakakibara, Ken. 2016. “Tokyo Olympic Medals to Be Made from e-Waste- Nikkei Asian Review.” Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved September 26, 2016 (http://asia.nikkei.com/japan-update/tokyo-olympic-medals-to-be-made-from-e-waste?page=1).

Wire. n.d. “Urban Mining: the City as a Source of Raw Materials.” Wire.de. Retrieved September 26, 2016 (http://www.wire.de/cipp/md_wiretube/custom/pub/content,oid,10345/lang,2/ticket,g_u_e_s_t/~/urban_mining_the_city_as_a_source_of_raw_materials.html).




Starting With Trash For Environmental Change

Seeking solutions is the route to take in this extremely abused and impaired environment. We have reached a stage where any further degradation to the environment can threaten mankind. Hence the documentary chosen is a good exemplar of rectification to the problem man has created.


Zero-waste[1] may seem like a far-fetched idea to many. How is it possible to live life without producing any waste? Well, let the townspeople of Kamikatsu enlighten you on this. This documentary specifically highlights a small-depopulated rural town in Japan of only 1,700 residences: Kamikatsu (Sakano 2015). 13 years ago in 2003, the government in Kamikatsu along with a few environmentalists pushed for a zero-waste program in the town. 13 years later with discipline and commitment from the townspeople, the zero-waste culture integrated with their everyday lives. Sorting, cleaning, and recycling of their waste is now a social norm in the town; something done so routinely it becomes a conscious-subconscious act. Even as kids, they are trained to take care of the environment by picking up waste in the river and around them, while treating it like a game. This instills a habit into residents to care about rubbish not only within their usage but also around their surroundings. Zero-waste is achieved with the combined efforts of everyone in the community and should be the first step to curing the environment.

How is Kamikatsu able to accomplish this feat? What motivates the townspeople? Will this zero-waste last? Is this exemplar inspirational enough for other towns and states to attempt?

As many have adopted the myth that Japan is really a green nation (Kalland 1997), Kamikatsu might be a good reflection of this statement with their spontaneous citizens ready to gear towards saving the environment. Through the model set by Kamikatsu, the impression is that Japan is a “green nation” with the potential that the rest of Japan will follow suit. However, we can’t jump to the conclusion that the rest of Japan will do so.


Going green brought about positive changes to Kamikatsu town. It has created job opportunities for its ageing population and provided alternative resources such as materials for manufacturing and fertilizers for agriculture. It has even brought about economical change for the once “hopeless town” through the Irodori Project (François, 2007), and Kurukuru shop coupling together with the 34 category recycling (Kiss, 2016). The 3 projects brought about ample economical and social changes to aid in Kamikatsu’s survival (J, 2013). It is quickly becoming a win-win situation for Japan and its environment.

Waste is inevitable. But recycling of materials allows waste to become something of value again, thus limiting the amount of new resources required to make a new product. Nature can be controlled by man’s act, yet man is unable to fully control how nature develops. Hence man can only hope to work towards salvaging nature, while letting nature take its natural course. Perhaps we also need political and ecological conditions that will motivate us to save the environment out of our will.



François, B. (2007). Rethinking Infrastructure for Development. Retrieved September 03, 2016, from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=S0gIIfP4OGUC

G. (n.d.). What is Zero Waste? GAIA’s definition on Zero Waste World. Retrieved September 03, 2016, from http://zerowasteworld.org/zero-waste-faq/

J.(2013, January 12). Elderly-run ‘leaf business’ in Shikoku town drawing interest from abroad | The Japan Times. Retrieved September 01, 2016, from http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/01/12/business/elderly-run-leaf-business-in-shikoku-town-drawing-interest-from-abroad/#.V8pwimPg1ew

Kalland, A. (1997). Japanese Perceptions of Nature – Ideals and Illusions

Kiss, D. (2016, May 4). Life in a Zero Waste City – Interview with Akira Sakano – A Better World is possible! Retrieved August 20, 2016, from http://www.betterworldinternational.org/influencers/life-in-a-zero-waste-city-interview-akira-sakano/

Sakano, A. (2015, April 19). Zero waste: A small town’s big challenge. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/04/zero-waste-a-small-towns-big-challenge/

Documentary from: http://video.toggle.sg/en/series/unique-towns/ep5/433345

[1] “Zero waste means setting a new goal for how we live in the world – one that aims to reduce what we trash in landfills and incinerators to zero – and to rebuild our local economies in support of community health, sustainability, and justice” (G, n.d.)

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: <http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201310030065>. [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. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/22/national/volunteers-work-to-clean-up-reforest-kyotos-poets-mount/#.UlTTN1Bmidm

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] http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/10/02/popular-ex-pm-koizumi-comes-out-against-nuclear-power/


Japan’s Eco-friendly Demolition Scheme

Japan’s Quiet Skyscraper-Demolition Technique Generates Energy
by Liat Clark, 15 January 2013

The article introduces a new Japanese eco-friendly demolition scheme that was developed by Japanese company Taisei Corporation. This new technology, christened as Taisei Ecological Reproduction System (TECOREP), took a year and a half to be developed. This technique has been used to demolish the 140-metre tall Grand Prince Hotel in Akasaka, which cannot be disassembled by cranes as the latter cannot reach buildings taller than 100 metres.

The building is disassembled two floors at a time from the inside, with hydraulic jacks propping up the top of the floor. After the inside is deconstructed, the jacks are lowered to let the roof and scaffolding move down.

This technique is touted as eco-friendly for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, explosives are not used in the demolition process unlike in traditional methods and the materials are dismantled bit by bit. Not only is there less debris and dust produced, the materials can also be recycled. Also, noise pollution is reduced by 17-23 decibels with the soundproofing of the building. It is also said that carbon emissions are reduced by 85 percent. Most importantly, electricity is generated from the motion of a crane which transports the dismantled components from the top to the ground floor. This electricity is then used to power lighting and other machines used in the demolition process.

The article blatantly states that previous demolition methods are “far from green”, hinting that Japan (other countries included) may not have been as kind to the environment. Yet, it portrays Japan as a eco-friendly nation committed to creating environmentally-friendly technologies, as it mentions the advent of other similar deconstruction schemes and acknowledges the benefits (to the environment) such technologies bring about.

I personally feel that it is near impossible to leave the environment in its pristine condition in the pursuit of economic development. As such, ‘green’ to me is really about living in harmony with the environment – striking a balance between environmental conservation and economic development, or in other words, sustainable development.  Taisei Corporation seems to be phenomenal at this, as it reduces landfill waste, utilizes clean energy, conserves natural resources and reduces carbon footprint, all while pursuing economic development.

While this newly invented technology seems to be highly viable with few drawbacks, I have some reservations. With the possibly higher costs and much longer time taken, how many companies will be receptive to such a demolition scheme? As it takes about 10 days to demolish 2 floors, the demolition process is definitely longer than traditional demolition methods. If companies do not utilize this eco-friendly demolition scheme, then it may seem like a futile venture.


Clark, Liat. “Japan’s Quiet Skyscraper-Demolition Technique Generates Energy”. Wired. 15 January 2013. Available at: http://www.wired.com/design/2013/01/japan-building-demolition/ [Accessed 2 September 2013]