When I first arrived in Japan a decade ago, one of the first things I did was take a stroll down a path that was adjacent to the Katsumata River. The river connected to the Kugigaura Bay, which empties into the Pacific Ocean. In my travels around the world we live in, I’ve not been exposed to such apparent environmental calamity as I had on that day. That pattern would continue over the course of the next ten years.
The further along that I travelled on that excursion, the more the waste piled up. The path was covered in debris. The water in the river that the men fished in was covered in garbage. There was toxic debris, such as metal wiring protruding which had been partially burned. There were hill size piles of discarded window frames that had glass fragments, and whole glass sheets still attached to them. There were piles, upon piles of obsolete electronics. By the time I arrived at the shore, I was reeling by the deeply disturbing environmental catastrophe that surrounded me. This wasn’t Dhaka in Bangladesh. This wasn’t Kalimantan in Indonesia. This wasn’t Mumbai in India. This wasn’t Xingtai in China. This was a small town in Shizuoka prefecture.
Not long after that initial experience where huge amounts of debris was strewn about long the rivers, and shores of Shizuoka, the typhoons began. During the first one, hard rains began to fall. I grabbed by surfboard, and began to search the coast for the perfect spot to ride the huge waves that came in off of the south Pacific. I returned to where the Katsumata River flows into the Kugigaura Bay. I was not prepared for what I was about to experience.
As I began my approach toward the sea along a road parallel to the Katsumata River, before even reaching my destination, and even where the winds, and rains howled, I was overwhelmed with grief. Even through the hard rain that pounded the windshield of my car, the sight of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of plastic bottles flowed down the Katsumata River, heading straight into the Kugigaura Bay. Nearly all of the bottles had their tamper evident bands, and twist caps removed. All labeling was removed as well. This meant that these bottles had already been in the recycling process, which meant they had to have been intentionally discharged into the river. I cursed myself for not bringing along my camera, as who would believe what I was witness to without proof.
The entire Katsumata River, which is quite wide, was covered end-to-end in plastic bottles. The bottles moved rapidly as if they were on a swift conveyor belt. They rolled up and down on the swells the rolled into the bay, as the bottles effortlessly made their way toward the ocean. Where the Katsumata River merged with Kugigaura Bay, the huge pitching waves pushed the bottles back toward the river. This resulted in a massive pile-up as bottles surged toward the ocean, and the waves surged toward the bay. I left the Katsumata rivermouth, and headed to Ooi River. Upon arrival, I witnessed the same pattern repeating itself, and endless wave of plastic rolling out toward the open sea.
What goes around, comes around.
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was released in 1962. The book exposed the hazards of pesticides, and examined blind faith in unproven technology that was supposed to improve the quality of our lives. The book also exposed corporate sponsored junk science, and questioned why humanity was being subjected to consequential experimentation, without their knowledge, or consent.
Even before the release of Silent Spring, the chemical giants teamed up, and initiated a worldwide smear campaign, which was aimed at discrediting Carson, and her research. Even today, more than fifty years after the publication of Silent Spring, agrochemical giants continue to discredit Carson’s work. Monsanto went so far as to parody the first chapter of Silent Spring. Monsanto’s tripe, is mockingly titled, The Desolate Year. It can be read here.
At the time that Silent Spring was being released, CBS announced that it was going to air, The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson. Three of the network’s major sponsors backed out as advertisers of the episode. Regardless, the investigative piece was televised, helping to raise awareness of environmental causes, and aided Silent Spring to become an instant best-seller.
Carson died before discovering that her book resulted in President John Kennedy establishing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Today, however, the EPA has become a revolving door for unethical, and corrupt officials like Jess Rowland, who aid chemical giants in destroying research that connects their products to a variety of maladies, including neurological diseases, immune diseases, endocrine diseases, and numerous forms of cancer. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto. In October 1991, law professor Anita Hill testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee about sexual harassment she endured while working for Thomas, as he awaited his Supreme Court confirmation. Thomas called the proceedings, “high-tech lynching.” Once appointed, Thomas sat on several cases where Monsanto was the defendant. Thomas had not recused himself in any of those cases, and in each one, sided with Monsanto.
If Carson was alive today, she would immediately recognize that what she had warned against, with dire consequences has, in fact, become a stark reality. Earth’s numerous biomes are truly being impacted to the point of massive contamination, and extinction. In David Bowie’s song, Five Years, he sang about how he knew Earth was dying, because the news guy wept when he said so. Today, the MSM do not permit themselves to have an independent, ethical voice. They are all mere talking heads, pundits, scared of incensing their controller-employers, and finding themselves in the unemployment line. What a terrible way to fake a living.
The agrochemical giants of today include, BASF (Germany), Bayer (Germany), Dow AgroSciences (U.S.), DuPont (U.S.), Nufarm (Australia), Makhteshim Agan (Israel), Syngenta (Switzerland), and Monsanto (U.S.). Others include Sumitomo Chemical, and Arysta Lifescience, both Japanese corporations.
In 2016, a mere 365 days, the world lost more than 30% of its coral reefs. Half of the world’s coral had already died off prior to that. The die off is the result of agrochemicals, pesticides, and fertilizer runoff, as well as a rise in ocean temperatures, caused by global warming. It matters not whether the warming of the atmosphere, and oceans is the result of man, or if these things are not caused by man. What matters is that global warming is occurring, and at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, all politicos can deliberate over is Islam, and Russia’s feigned influence on U.S. elections that have already come, and gone.
The oceans today are rapidly being bled of life due to toxins that leach into them from rivers, estuaries, and other bodies of water that have long been contaminated by agrochemical products. Aiding the irreparable harm to the oceans of the world are microbeads, and microfibers. Companies like Patagonia, which profess to have concern for these byproducts, still manufacture overpriced goods that start as microbeads, and end up as the microfibers, which find their way into food webs. Microbeads, marketed as “exfoliants,” and microfibers are so small they easily pass through drainage systems, and end up in the world’s oceans. Once there, these manmade pollutants are gobbled up by microorganisms, which are then eaten by shrimp, crabs, and other organisms in various food chains. Through this process, those beads and fibers work continue up the food chain, and end up on your plate, and in your stomach.
Toxic microbeads marketed as exfoliants, finally banned in the U.S.
Manmade micro particles, these beads and fibers, have a propensity to absorb DDE, DDT, PCBs, PVCs, and other toxins, which are resilient to diluting in the world’s oceans. Microbeads have been banned in the U.S. This measure was far too late, as the damage has already been done. Ironically, microfibers continue to be manufactured in a variety of products. Microbeads and microfibers have even found their way in the sea salt we consume. Once consumed, about the only way the accumulated toxins can leave the human body is through mother’s breast milk, which fed directly into an unborn fetus, that has as of yet formed an immune system. Numerous studies show that the endocrine system, and the reproductive systems of children are permanently altered through contact with minute amounts of these contaminates.
There are truly only a few who are responsible for the environmental calamity we all face. Only a few! These include corporate board members, and their miserly shareholders who demand quarterly profits on their investments, at any cost to others. There are judicial officers that habitually, and irrationally side with corporations in litigation, and who reap hefty speaking fees, which in reality are bribes for their legal determinations. Others, guilty through association, include legislatures who take, take, take, money dolled out by lobbyists who act as shields against liability for the corporate giants they represent, and regulators, who fail to enforce laws provided for by agencies, such as the EPA. The broken wheel seemingly cycles ceaselessly, even as the tires tread gets thinner, and thinner and thinner.
Society of the Plastics Industry’s, Resin Identification Code.
In 1988, the Society of the Plastics Industry introduced the Resin Identification Code (RIC). The RIC system was designed to make it easier for workers in recovery and recycling facilities to separate obsolete, and discarded items according to their resin category. The RIC numbers broadly refer to the type of plastic used in a particular product. There are only seven plastic categories. Yet, there are thousands of plastic resins in use today, with more, and more introduced in consumer goods every year. The vast majority of these new plastics don’t undergo any kind of testing before being released into the stream of commerce. Many plastics are used for a short span of time by the consumer, but after being discarded, remain in the environment for up to several hundreds of years. A typical used baby diaper is said to remain in the environment for approximately 450 years.
There are two types of plastics, thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers. Once molded, thermosetting polymers do not soften when reheated. Therefore, they cannot be reshaped, and are difficult to recycle. BPA is used to harden plastics. It is an xenoestrogen, which mimics estrogen. Estrogen affects heart function, bone growth, ovulation, and disrupts the endocrine system, and reproductive organs. Ironically, one of its main use in toys for children. Thermoplastics, are plastics that do not undergo chemical change when heated, and therefore may be reprocessed, remolded, and used again and again. Thermoplastics include polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride, also known as poly vinyl, or vinyl, commonly abbreviated as PVC, is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, after polyethylene, and polypropylene. From both an environmental, and health standpoint, PVC is the most toxic plastic ever created. According to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Regardless, its used in dishes, utensils, plastic glasses, food trays, produce and meat wrappers, and baby bottles.
It is estimated that eight percent of all oil based products begin as raw plastic resin pellets. These pellets form approximately 260 million tons of plastic the world uses each year. Only a small percentage of these plastics products are actually ever recycled. The vast majority, nearly 90%, end up in landfills, and the oceans.
How many microbeads can you locate in this organism?
Lightweight, and small, plastic pellets escape in large volume during manufacturing, and transportation. Plastic resin pellets are also intentionally introduced in soaps, toothpaste, makeup, shampoo, shaving crème, face lotions, and other products consumed by the ill-informed hordes as, “exfoliants.” There are no health benefits that can be obtained by the use of exfoliants, whatsoever. Once introduced into habitats, animals eat the resin pellets, instinctively supposing them to be a source of food. Due to corporations recklessly including microbeads in their products, they are now found in the tissue of all animals in the food web. This includes humans!
Incinerating plants burn plastics, which are dumped into storm drains, deposited directly into the oceans, and also blown out of smoke stacks. They mingle with dioxin, bleaching agents, mercury, and other contaminants. Through these processes, burnt plastic is introduced into the atmosphere, drifts onto the land we live on, and into the air that we breath.
Resin pellets cover Japan’s shores. Once these pellets find their way into the ocean, they suck up a variety of persistent organic pollutants, including, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and DDEs, which are highly toxic groups of industrial chemicals. DDE, is a degraded form of the pesticide DDT. Though PCBs are banned in many countries, they are still in regular use. DDT is extremely difficult to breakdown, and much of what was produced still remains with us, in our cellular tissue, and in the environments that surround around us. Neither PCBs or DDT breaks down in seawater. Numerous studies show that these toxins have accumulated on sea beds. Frequent storms stir them back into the water, giving them the ability to be absorbed into floating plastic debris. Once the debris breaks down, it’s eaten by sea life, and birds. It now affects every organism on the face of the planet.
Both PCBs and DDE have been proven to disrupt the endocrine system, which is an extremely sensitive set of glands, and hormones that regulate functions such as insulin production, metabolism, and sexual development. PCBs and DDEs show up in plastic garbage, acting as magnets, leaching the chemicals out of the marine soup.
A recent US Department of Health and Human Services report provides greater cause for concern. In June, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of HHS, added styrene, the chemical used in the manufacture of Styrofoam cups, and food containers, to its list of substances “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer. Styrene had already been linked to neurological disorders, and hormonal disruption. Styrofoam is made from the plastic polystyrene, which is based on building blocks called styrene monomers. When somebody drinks hot coffee, or eat soup out of a Styrofoam cup, they are also ingesting the chemicals that leach from it, which are known carcinogens.
Styrene is used to make latex, synthetic rubber, and polystyrene resins. These resins are used to make plastic packaging, disposable cups, disposable containers, insulation, and other products. Styrofoam, and styrene are used for food trays in meat, produce, and is disposed of through incineration. Long-term exposure to styrene causes brain disease, liver damage, nerve tissue damage, effects on kidney function, occupational asthma, damage to the central nervous system, impaired hearing, altered color vision, and reproductive effects. Skin contact with liquid styrene causes first-degree burns.
According to the Cancer Research UK, there is “No convincing evidence to show using plastic bottles or plastic containers increases the risk of cancer.” The group claims, there is no scientific evidence that microwaving food in plastic containers or wrapped in cling film affects the risk of cancer. The CRUK also claims there is no evidence that Bisphenol A (BPA) causes cancer either. The European Food Safety Authority claims to have performed a full scientific review of BPA and concluded as well there are no health risks. Despite what the CRUK has to say, this link is a recent article on the effects of the seven types of plastics, and the inherent dangers they pose.
In the 1950s and 60s, the chemical giants that held the patent for DDT ran advertisements, and songs that touted, “DDT Is Good For Me.” This same type of illusory marketing persists today. One advertising campaign, “Bag The Ban”, operates a website titled, “The Truth About Plastic Bags.” See: http://bagtheban.com/multimedia/item/the-truth-about-plastic-bags. The company that operates this deceptive website is Novolex. Novolex manufactures plastic products that are make their way into food chains, and which are responsible for the dying off of numerous species, including the Midway Atoll Albatross.
Summer has arrived in Japan
TEPCO announced that it’s going to dump 770,000 tonnes of nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully, the U.S. Federal Court has finally permitted a lawsuit to move forward against TEPCO, for knowingly subjecting U.S. military personnel to high levels of radiation. Several of the plaintiffs in that matter have already died from radiation exposure. Fukushima can be added to the Guinness Book of World Records as having the world’s most toxic shoreline. Further south of Fukushima, Odaiba in Tokyo, is recognized as being one of the world’s most toxic beaches. Odaiba’s toxicity has nothing to do with radiation contamination. It has everything to do with Japan placing nearly all of its industry on the shores of its rivers, and the beaches.
Chigasaki, where I currently reside, has produced not a single day so far this summer where the ocean has been fit for swimming, surfing, or other water related activities. After waiting for the long cold season to end, I had looked forward to the time that I could spend teaching my child to surf. Those lessons will have to be put off.
Japan’s shores from Shizuoka, to Hiratsuka, just south of Chigasaki, are covered in debris, and dead animals. From Tokyo, to Ibaraki, to Fukushima, and northward to Sendai, and beyond, Japan’s shores are not fit for sea life, seafood consumption, or human recreational purposes. The reddish-brown, putrid decaying water oozes a pus-like matter. The exuding matter appears as the disease that poured out of the flesh of the victims in, Edgar Allan Poe’s, The Masque of the Red Death.
The debris that is not sucked out of the Pacific in drag nets, trawling, and long line fishing, ends up in a vortex that carries the woeful concoction upward to Alaska, and across the Pacific to Canada’s west coast, and southward to the U.S., and Mexico.
What does Japan’s Ministry of Environment have to say about all of this? According to Japan’s Ministry of Environment’s 2016 Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Study:
The assessment found that biodiversity in Japan continues to be in a state of long-term decline. The four major drivers indicated were: 1.) development and other human activities; 2.) the reduction in use/management of nature; 3.) invasive alien species, chemical substances, and other things introduced by humans; and 4.) global climate change. Examples of each of these drivers of the decline in biodiversity include the following.
The first driver is the result of continued habitat alteration of the Japanese ecosystem, including forests, farmlands, wetlands, and tidal flats, due to development during the period of high economic growth, with around 40% of tidal flats having disappeared. River crossing structures are affecting the continuity between upstream and downstream, and between rivers and oceans, and deterioration of the continuity of rivers may be obstructing the movement of animals going upstream. Furthermore, development and exploitation were indicated as drivers of extinction for the 26 species so far confirmed extinct in Japan. In the case of the second driver, there has been a loss of Satochi-Satoyama, the secondary natural environment formed through human intervention in nature, such as farmland and grassland. For example, the loss of secondary grassland is indicated as a driver of the dramatic loss of grassland birds and butterflies.
With regards to the third driver, the effects of alien species are a concern, for example, as indicated by the increase in agricultural damage caused by raccoons. With regard to the fourth driver, cases have been reported of disruption of phenological synchronism relationship between biological cycle events and seasonal variation, such as mismatches in timing between the flowering of alpine plants and the appearance of the bumblebees that pollinate them. Also, average coral coverage around the Okinawa Main Island is reported to have decreased to 7.5% due to factors such as rising ocean temperatures.
Many of the provisioning services in Japan were assessed as being in decline, particularly with agricultural and fisheries products and timber, which are seeing major declines compared to historical levels.
Both the supply and demand sides contribute to the decline of provisioning services, with the former responsible for the deterioration of resources through overuse, habitat destruction and other factors, and the latter responsible for underuse of resources as a result of change in lifestyle and increased dependence on imported food and resources.
One of the causes of underuse is Japan’s exceptionally heavy dependence on imported food and resources. Decreased domestic production of food and resources leads to an increase of abandoned farmland. The number of workers in the agricultural/forestry/fisheries industries is falling due to a shift in economic structure and resulting population flow from rural to urban areas, which could result in the loss of traditional knowledge and skills necessary to harness the bounties of nature.
Soil erosion control and other regulating services of artificial forests are sometimes compromised due to lack of management. In addition, reduced human activities in Satochi-Satoyama are creating conflicts with wild animals, thereby increasing disservices to humans, including attacks by bears.
Interregional food diversity is gradually being lost throughout Japan along with landscape diversity that creates a colorful mosaic of different vegetation and ecosystems. This fact suggests the loss of cultural services as well, which are rooted in each locality and its natural environment.
Interaction with nature has positive effects on our physical and mental well-being. While urbanization has deprived children of opportunities to interact with nature on a daily basis, many people are still interested in nature and are increasingly looking for ways to reconnect with rural communities and get back into nature through eco-tourism, etc.
Life’s a beach
The Sagami River begins flowing from Tsukui Lake, in Shiroyama. The Tsukui Lake is dammed, with the flow of water moving downstream being controlled. The Tsukui Lake is fed by seasonal snows, and rainfall. Ironically, the first obvious perpetrator of dumping into the river is the Tanigahara government. A Google Maps view shows a partially secluded building, and some wooded area being used to dump directly in the river. From this point onward, the river has to endure passing through, Shonan Seaside Country Club, Shonan Seaside Golf Club. Hayamajima Golf Club, and yet another gold center. These courses contaminate the river with pesticide, and fertilizer runoff. Other forms of businesses along the river include, Sagami Riverside Marina, Shonan Marina, Riverport Marina, and Kamakura Boat Marina. All very clearly dumping waste oil, oil filters, waste, debris, and other contaminants directly into the Sagami River. There are six different auto body, and auto supply shops along the river, and a variety of convenient stores. There are two hospitals, Jinaikaikondo Hospital, and Tana Hospital. Various other businesses include, a Home Improvement Center, the Shibuya Landscape Supply Company, an automobile factory, Atsugi Plant, a chemical Plant, Cosmo Science, other chemical companies, Sony Corporation, five large recycling Centers, two propane suppliers, and various used car dealerships. Numerous “sport fields” are responsible for the massive amount of sports related trash that exists along the coastal shore. Those include, Furukawadenkikogyo Field, Tabata Sports Park, Sagamigawa Riverside Sports Park, Nashiki Tennis Courts, Shiritsuoguram Tennis Center, two other tennis courts, Shoingakuenshonan Campus Field, Kurami Sports Park, Sakai Sports Square, Ebina Sports Park, Atsugi Baseball Field, Saragashimaya Baseball Field, Showahashi Sports Park, Kamigo Sports Park, three unnamed baseball fields, and several soccer fields.
Farmers, and local residents use the river to dump just about anything that comes to mind, as if the river was part of the private property that they poorly maintain. All of the toxic waste, the debris, the discarded auto, and marine products, and various other trash, continue downstream creating a volatile, and toxic soup. By the time it reaches the shore, the water is unsafe to come into contact with any form of life, including human. Once the Sagami River reaches the shore, the toxic soup combines with the emissions that originate at the Hiratsuka Incineration Plant, which operates two incinerators that dump directly onto the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
The water of Tsukui Lake begins relatively pristine at the top of the mountains in Shiroyama, and by the time it reaches the ocean is entirely contaminated. This, after a mere few kilometers of travel.
Standing on the Katabira Bridge that connects Hiratsuka to Chigasaki, one can easily see the consequences of the debris that surges from the Sagami River, and the Hiratsuka Incineration Plant into the Sagami Bay. The estuary that had once formed in this area where fresh water met the ocean, creating a unique biome, has long been destroyed. The putrid mess that is left behind today a fingerprint that points directly at the perpetrators, that use the Sagami River recklessly, and wrongfully. The Sagami River will probably bring to Japan its next Minamata. Compared to the disaster in Namie, Fukushima, the Japanese will consider this disaster, inconsequential.
The Hiratsuka Incineration Plant burns kitchen waste, food scraps, tissue paper, instant food containers, plastic trays for food, cooking oil containers, rubber gloves and boots, toothpaste tubes, soft toys, wooden toys, and plastic toys. When it rains heavily, the plant opens flood gates, and dumps straight into the bay. This includes what has already been described above as well as cardboard, books, magazines, cassette tapes, video tapes, clothing, footwear, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, garden waste, and unrecyclable waste paper. The plant burns disposable diapers, ketchup containers, cellophane wrap, shampoo containers, and Styrofoam. All of these items that originate at the Hiratsuka Incinerator Plant can be found strewn all along Japan’s beaches, which are used for swimming, surfing, windsurfing and other activities.
Non-burnable garbage makes its way into the Sagami Bay as well. This includes spray containers for hair spray, spray paint containers, paint cans, insecticides, lighters, cooking gas canisters, fluorescent lights, incandescent lights, thermometers, glass, glasses, glass sheets, broken bottles, frying pans, pots, eyeglasses, small home appliances, such as radios, audio players, word processors, hair dryers, including the batteries that ran them.
The debris that flows out of the river, and incineration plant has resulted in an ecological nightmare. The stench of the chemicals used at the Hiratsuka Incinerator Plant, bleaching agents, fill the atmosphere, making the air difficult to breath. After merely standing along the shore in Hiratsuka, the contaminated air stench clings to hair, and clothing. After belching into the Pacific, the putrid, contaminated, and garbage filled water hitches a ride in the vortex that carries the concoction slowly northward along Japan’s Pacific coast, from Hiratsuka, through Chigasaki, through Tsujido, to Enoshima, from Yuigahama, to Kamakura, and further north. The diabolical concoction continues toward Tokyo, accumulating in Odaiba, and other Kanto regions. The shores along the way are covered in toxic waste, dead birds, and dead sea life. The odors that waif off of the putrescent water is not something one associates with nature.
The denial, and inaction continues
Earlier this summer, as is the case every summer, shanty-like shacks are haphazardly thrown up all over Japan’s shores.
The summer “lifeguards” prevent ocean related activities from 800 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During that time the drunkards take over the beaches, chain smoking, passing out, puking all over themselves, get into brawls, and recklessly, and uncaringly toss their litter about. The families that pretend not to notice make their way to the shore. These are usually women, dressed from head-to-toe in synthetic cloth that shed microfibers. The covering is intended to prevent the woman from having any contact whatsoever with the sun. The woman often holds an umbrella overhead in one hand, and a child in the other. The family skirts around, and steps over every manner of product that had ever been devised through the entrepreneur that had intended to bring good things to life. Once at the shore, if the bacterial level permits entry, the family stands waste deep, in debris that moves with the current. It soon begins to wrap around legs, wastes and flailing arms. Large pieces of plastic, some nearly the size of bed sheets cause panic. As fast as one piece of debris is appallingly ripped from the body, the next piece soon takes the formers place, wrapping around exposed limbs while simultaneously painting the body with slime that had accompanied the debris along its journey to nowhere particular. Happily, those mom’s, filled with good intention, doesn’t know that the plastics they have come in contact with is covered in DDT, DDE, PCBs, PCVs, and other things detrimental to their good health.
Japan is said to have one of the top economies in the world. Japan is said to be a first world nation. If these are facts, the Japanese have no excuse, whatsoever, for existing in such abject and abominable conditions. Apparently, the Japanese believe technology will somehow come along, and save them in the end. Wishful thinking!
Japan is a lost cause. For the health, safety, and well-being of my child, I am relocating my family. I cannot justify raising a child in anything remotely close to what the Japanese consider important.
Chigasaki is Honolulu’s “sister” city. While Japan suffers from a lack of tourism, which is mostly due to inhospitality, failing infrastructure, dilapidation, contamination, and filthiness, Honolulu, albeit a tourist destination, is well maintained. Hawaiian officials understand that clean environments draw tourist dollars. Japan has never, and will never understand this.
The following text was craned from Japan’s Ministry of Environment’s website
The history of pollution in Japan dates back to around the 20th year of the Meiji Period. The mineral pollution case of the Ashio Copper Mine came to be known as the first pollution case that occurred in Japan. Since the end of World War II, Japan upgraded the industrial infrastructure and developed heavy-industrialization. A large amount of pollutants had been emitted because of the massive increase in industrial manufacturing.
Factories were built on waterfront areas to increase production efficiency, making the sources of pollutant generation more concentrated. Terrible pollution-related diseases occurred, including four major diseases, Minamata disease, and Yokkaichi asthma.
Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control was enacted in the 42nd year of the Showa Period in order to promote pollution control measures comprehensively and systematically. In this law, the target coverage for pollution and responsibility of waste producers, the national and local governments were specified.
A special Diet session in the 45th year of the Showa Period conducted intensive debates regarding the pollution issue. Fourteen bills related to pollution laws and regulations, including the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control were passed. The Environmental Agency was established in the 46th year of the Showa Period. After that, in the 5th year of the Heisei Period, the Basic Environmental Law was enacted which evolved from the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control. However, it didn’t declare the end of pollution, but generally addresses pollution as one of the major environmental issues.
A report comparing the damages and expenditures for pollution called Japan’s Pollution Experience as started in 1991 by the Society for Global Environmental Economic Research. In this report, they compare annual damages to annual expenditures for three of Japan’s major pollution cases; they are Yokkaichi City, the Minamata area, and the Jinzu River watershed. According to estimates, 21.07 billion yen for damages and 14.795 billion yen for expenditures in the Yokkaichi City case, 12.631 billion yen for damages and 123 million yen for expenditures in the Minamata area case, and 2.518 billion yen for damages and 620 million yen for expenditures in the Jinzu River case. In order to prevent health damage, investing sufficiently in environmental preservation measures from an early stage of pollution production is the rational choice, financially speaking. Without proper pollution control measures, and only considering short-term benefits, basic human activities such as economic growth might be harmed; in the long term, a sustainable economy cannot be achieved.