Regarding the Nov. 3 editorial “Cut back on disposable plastic,” I admired the thinking of The Japan Times’ editorial team that Japan should be a proactive party in the global movement to reduce plastic waste. In short, the intention of the Japanese government to cut down on plastic waste, including a mandatory requirement for retailers to charge for plastic shopping bags and a 25 percent reduction in disposable plastic waste by 2030, should be supported by all parties.

However, I am concerned about the assertion that Japan has not done much on resolving global plastic waste pollution. This is not “the first step,” as indicated in the article.

In reality, Japan has significant achievements in overall waste management compared with other developed nations. It is sufficient to note that almost 99 percent of solid waste, including 9.4 million tons of plastic waste, is properly collected and managed in Japan. Therefore the streets, drains and rivers are clean and tidy. This is a paramount achievement of Japan that others are trying to match.

In addition, about two-thirds of solid waste in Japan is properly incinerated and about 2 million tons, or 20 percent, is recycled and reused.

As a visiting professor in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and having spent time conducting collaborative research with Japanese universities for more than 25 years, I have noted that the progress of environmental policy in Japan is on par with, or ahead of, other nations. Indeed, plastic waste is properly managed in Japan. The issue is how to take the next step and reduce plastic consumption and production, and consequently reduce the volume of plastic waste to be managed. This requires a proactive environmental policy to change the mindset of Japanese businesses and consumers.

The discourse on environmental policy in Japan has confirmed my view that Japan’s commitment to the environment has surpassed the organizational domain, and the pursuit of ecological harmony is continuously enriching Japanese culture.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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