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Environmental Activism in Japan

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Sean Calvin

on 14 March 2013

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Transcript of Environmental Activism in Japan

By: Sean Calvin and Keika Sugiyama A History of Environmental Activism in Japan Conclusions Build-Up Media began covering pollution
Pollution became a public issue

Governmental support (JCP)

New legislation regulating the
disposal of toxic substances (see handout) Political Turnaround Environmental activism is centered around NIMBYism

External allies are essential to a successful environmental movement

Corporate pollution generates more opposition than governmental pollution Stage 2: Incineration Pollution Overpopulation + disease led to widespread use of incinerators Yokkaichi Yokkaichi Asthma Minamata Minamata Disease (1932-1968) Niigata Niigata Minamata Disease Corporate vs. governmental power constraints: difficult to oppose governmental power Big Four vs. Suginami Disposable Chopsticks? Future Environmental Issues Small, combative groups formed in opposition
of the plant - NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) Collective Action Stage 1: Corporate Pollution Suginami Sickness Grassroots Movements Post-WW2 Japan experienced rapid economic growth Factories placed in coastal communities Little regulation around industrial effluent disposal Effluent from Chisso contained mercury Mercury bioaccumulated up the food chain into the human population Mercury poisoning resulted in birth deformations, illnesses, and
even deaths The Answer:
"My Hashi" Thank you!
Questions? Japan is home to over 70% of the world's incinerators Suginami Waste Transfer Station: over 90 toxic chemicals
found in the surrounding air Local residents began getting sick
Dioxins found in the air
Over 400 incidences of dioxin poisoning (resulted in cancer, abnormal sexual development, etc.) However, their efforts were largely unsuccessful:
Waste continued to facilities grew in size and number
Movement failed to achieve public support External Allies: No allies outside of local movement Non-point source pollution: difficult to prove pollution source in Suginami National shift from coal to oil

When burned the oil released harmful sulfur dioxides into the air Resulted in numerous cases of bronchial asthma, and even
some fatalities Niigata
Economy driven by agriculture and fishing
Located along the Agano River Showa Electric Company discharged thousands of gallons of wastewater containing methyl mercury into the Agano River
690 cases of mercury poisoning
Active response (when compared to Minamata) Four pollution events become known as
"Big Four" Individual movements joined forces to become external allies Pressured government, corporations with the threat of lawsuits Status: Pollution significantly reduced Status: Pollution has not been resolved. Successful in the means of unleashing the most public protest/support throughout Japan Stage 3: Nuclear Energy Yet struggles to turn the widespread anger toward government agencies Social pressure to stay quiet even at times like these, otherwise considered as extremist Status: Ongoing. Fukushima
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