Ecology product confab at Big Sight kicks off with higher youth turnout

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

In the face of pressing environmental challenges, the nation’s biggest event on eco-friendly products kicked off Thursday in Tokyo, giving everyone from elementary school kids to businesspeople an opportunity to think about what’s good for future generations.

Eco-Products 2014, a three-day event underway at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward, is expected to draw 175,000 attendees through Saturday. This year’s theme is “Discover ideas to change the future.”

The event will feature exhibitions and products from 747 organizations.

“When we look back on what has happened to us this year, we have experienced unusual events derived from climate change — from the unusually cold weather in Africa in January to the unexpectedly dreadful hail in Mitaka (western Tokyo) in June,” the exhibition’s chairman, Ryoichi Yamamoto, told the media. “Many scientists realize we are living in a situation that can be described as a climate emergency . . . We need to look straight at this reality and move forward to radical change.”

The next 15 years will be key to overcoming the planet’s major environmental problems to establish an eco-friendly society, said Yamamoto. Over that time, he claimed that eco-friendly businesses will need a capital investment of $90 trillion to reform society.

“If you look at our exhibition, you can easily learn in which product you should invest. We have all sets of eco-friendly products worthy of investment,” Yamamoto said.

Among the participating businesses, electronics giant Fujitsu Ltd. showcased a type of lettuce made in its industrial plant in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture.

Thanks to an efficient energy resource management system that uses cloud computing and anti-bacterial technology it devised through semiconductor manufacturing, they successfully produced the vegetable from seeds in a factory.

The event is drawing the attention of people from all walks of life, including the younger generations.

“Since our fifth or sixth event, we have seen increasing numbers of young attendees,” said Toshiyuki Maruyama, deputy manager of The Nikkei’s cultural and business projects bureau, which organized the event.

In fact, children from elementary to high-school age were the most active participants on the first day. Many took notes on what presenters said and took part earnestly in activities that organizations offered to help learn about their efforts.

Reflecting regional interest in Japanese technologies, tour guides are available who can speak English and Korean. An information center also offers services in English, Korean and Chinese.

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