Quality of the Environment in Japan 1996


To Readers

This book is an English version of the Japanese government's an-nual report on the environment, "White Paper on the Environment which was drawn up for the fiscal year 1995 and adopted by the Cabi-net 31 May 1996.
PartI was re-edited, adding new information and photographs, in order to make it easier to understand and more accessible to the gen-eral public.
The "White Paper" confines itself mainly to events in the previ-ous year. In 1995 the Environment Agency started establishing the ba-sic ideas, frameworks and long-term directions of those environmental policies that were indicated in the Basic Environment Law and the Ba-sic Environment Plan.
Important measures have been promoted in various fields. To take some examples, the Action Plan for Greening Government Opera-tions, and the National Strategy for Biological Diversity have been es-tablished, and the Law for Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging has been enacted and enforced.
However, in order to increase the effectiveness of these meas-ures, it is essential that all the sectors that comprise our current society establish partnerships and work together under a system of fair divi-sion of roles and responsibilities. Therefore, this year's White Paper fo-cuses on the importance of "partnership."
Many of today's environmental problems are caused by the inter-twined activities of the many different sectors that make up today's huge and complex economic society. It is not always easy to recognise and understand this, nor is it easy to come up with concrete solutions to these problems. Given this fact, this year's White Paper talks about how people's day to day activities are related to the natural environment. To realize the fact that our daily activities depend on the environment, and also exert certain pressures on the environment, is the first step neces-sary to establish partnerships.
The White Paper also deals with issues of biodiversity and eco-efficiency as basic concepts, in order to help the public have a common understanding of how our environment is shaped and an understanding of how the structure of human society sits within the context of the natural environment.
Moreover, with a view to solve various environmental issues ranging from regional to global in scale, the White Paper looks closely at various forms of partnership, in order that all the sectors concerned should have a shared recognition and understanding of the problems, and from this should be able to make efforts to achieve common goals and solutions. To realise this, the White Paper discusses many systems such as environmental indicators, notions of environmental risk, eco-nomic instruments and environmental impact assessment. It also con-siders the interdisciplinary subject, "Global Environmental Studies," which embraces different academic disciplines such as the natural sci-ences, social sciences and the humanities, to enable us to make a major change that affects our whole economic society.
We hope that this book will help you participate in concrete envi-ronmental conservation activities.