Monday, September 26, 2011

Only in Japan: Rivers of Garbage?

Japan is known as the land of many rivers. (Rivers in Japan) In fact rivers played a vital role in Japan`s history and are still used today commercially in a variety of ways.

However, recently as I was riding along in my car I saw a startling sight.

Polluted river in Chiba city Japan, filled with garbage

Japan on one hand is a strong industrial nation which means that pollution of the environment is bound to occur. On the other hand Japan has a strong affinity for nature, as clearly depicted in their language, literature, religion and culture.  Shi-zen 自然 or Nature is associated with good and is highly valued even revered by the general Japanese population. It is difficult for many Japanese to see such sights, meanwhile the engine of industry plows through mountains in order to build new shopping areas, and town developments in an attempt to stimulate a stifling economy. Japanese have a love for both nature and industry, much like a man who both loves his wife and his mistress. They love technology and efficient industry for what they do for everyday life and convenience yet pollution tragically is released into the Japanese beloved mountains, (山Yama) forests, 森 Mori) and rivers (川 Kawa).

Yet this is not a new development. Tokyo Bay and many other urban areas of Japan are well known for their pollution which are seen as an inevitable side effect of high population. But one must ask, "Is this a necessary process for Japan to compete in the global economy? That as an island, it must sacrifice what little land it has?"

I know there are many countries in the world with problems of pollution but it is sad to see a nation of people that worship nature (traditional Japanese religion is Shinto, an animistic religion) unwillingly sacrifice for the sake of "progress."
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