Even though the small country of Japan only occupies 0.3% of total land area and 2.3 % of our world’s total population, it receives about 20% of the world’s annual shipment carriages. This massive economy is
only a recent phenomena brought about in the last 100 years. Although economic growth is good for a country it does bring about problems to the environment. Because of this, and Agenda 21, the Japan Council for Sustainable Development was established.
The council’s aim is to encourage and facilitate communication between the members concerning major issues of sustainable development. Before the council was even established Japan created the Basic environmental law which is the basis for all of japanese environmental policy. The law has a couple of basics for environmental policy. The “enjoyment and succession of environmental blessings”, “creation of a sustainable society which imposes less burden on the environment”, and ” international cooperation for the conservation of the global environment” are three main principles for environmental policy.
The National Agenda 21 Action Plan and the Basic Environmental Plan are two proposals devised to help make strong efforts towards effectively implementing and following Agenda 21 in Japan. The Basic Environmental Plan prescribes four long-term objectives which are “environmentally-sound material cycle, harmonious coexistence, public participation, and international activities.”
An environmentally-sound material cycle is fostered by building a socio-economic system where environmental load from human activities is minimized. The relationship between humankind and the diverse wildlife and the natural environment is what Japan strives for to create a harmonious existence. Public Participation is a key to long-term effectiveness of Agenda 21. Participation of all members of a society in environmental conservation activities is major. If the public chooses not to follow the plan then the plan is nothing more than ideas with no actions so it is very important to get the public to agree and participate in environmental conservation.
The import-export ratio in Japan is about 8 to 1, which is way higher than any other country. 500 million tons of industrial waste and 50 million tons of house hold wastes are made in Japan. Of the 500 tons of industrial waste 1/3 is recycled while others are incinerated and left to sit in land hills. Because of the huge amounts of wastes that flow into Japan a huge quantity of wastes are also made. Environmental Law in Japan seems to aim Japan in the right direction, but with such massive amounts of wastes produces it is hard to see immediate results. Without all the proposals by Japanese environmental law makers going as planned results will be hard to come by.