With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, Japan’s approach toward sustainability has drawn great attention. “Green tech for Olympics urged for use in other cities” in the Oct. 29 edition discussed many environmentally friendly innovations, such as uniforms made from recycled plastic and heat-minimizing pavement, that are being planned for the games.

However, it is highly questionable that these innovations will lead to the “citizen’s awareness of climate change and sustainability,” as a Tokyo environmental official was quoted as saying. This is because most of the “environmentally friendly” approaches proposed by the government are dependent solely on technology. Admittedly, the efficient use of advanced technology will be somewhat eco-friendly as well as make our lives convenient. Not to mention, it will also give us satisfaction knowing that technology is eco-friendly.

However, I believe that the government should also target individuals’ actions toward a sustainable lifestyle. For instance, instead of obligating stores to charge for plastic bags, a ban on single-use plastic bags would be more effective. Nonetheless, with thousands of people coming from other counties for the Olympics, some businesses in the service industry claim that not being able to use single-use plastic bags and other products would affect the quality of their omotenashi (Japanese hospitality). However, this is not a matter of omotenashi and is about effective action and effort from consumers.

Moreover, many countries such as New Zealand have already banned single-use plastic bags and in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his commitment to eliminating all single-use plastics.

It may be necessary for the Japanese government to implement more regulations that force citizens to take action instead of relying on technology to make the change for us.


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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