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The United States has been blamed for its poor environmental practices, and for not participating in the Kyoto Protocol. While some of this blame is certainly deserved, Japan should also focus on what it has been doing.

The U.S. is a huge country and its public transportation system is not well developed and not very efficient, so Americans have to rely on automobiles and airlines. As a result, the U.S. consumes a great amount of fossil fuels.

Japan, on the other hand, is a small country and its public transportation systems are well developed and very efficient. In urban areas subways and trains can be utilized to go anywhere, so automobiles are not necessary. Despite this, travel by automobile is preferred by people such as company presidents and high-ranking bureaucrats because they think that big cars are a status symbol. Even if Japanese cars are very fuel efficient, such travel is still a wasteful use of fossil fuels.

As cars are very convenient, people become addicted to them. For example, although voting stations are usually less than a kilometer from most residents’ homes, some people still come to vote by car. Before criticizing Americans for their lack of environmental awareness, we must first reflect on our our own behavior.

yukihiro yoshida

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