Japan’s energy wisdom
Renee Loth, March 26, 2007 (The Boston Globe via International Herald Tribune)
Japan government long-term energy planners and 1.8 million Japanese citizens who have pledged to take six steps, such as turning off lights, to meet energy conservation goals.
Japan's energy consumption as a percentage of gross domestic product is the lowest in the world. Japan has kept energy use down and kept the comforts of an affluent society. Per capita consumption of energy is nearly half that in the United States, but per capita incomes are comparable. Japan's economy is the world’s second largest. Japan has fully internalized the wisdom of restricting energy imports.
Government campaigns for energy conservation are omnipresent.
- The national expression of concern for the earth dovetails nicely with the traditional Japanese reverence for nature…
- The Japanese have invented their way out of energy abuse…Toyota and Honda have provided hybrid cars…Four of the world's five largest producers of solar panels are Japanese…
- Gasoline is taxed…Subways are fast, clean, and relatively inexpensive…Long-distance travel by the Shinkansen bullet train is preferable to flying…
- "This is a problem of moral dimensions," said Japan's minister of environment, Masatoshi Wakabayashi. With a green feather in his lapel and a copy of Al Gore's book on his desk, Wakabayashi is a bureaucrat with a cause. "I think we are receiving the message that our mother earth is in crisis," he said. "We have a common consciousness of this fact."
- There is a growing movement called "watashi no hashi" ("my chopsticks") that urges people to carry their own into restaurants so as to cut down on the waste of the disposable kind.
- Takayuki Uedo, manager of the New and Renewable Energy Division of Japan's natural resources agency: "We are 20 years ahead of the EU countries."