I appreciate Elliot Silverberg and Elisabeth Smith’s advice in their opinion piece “Does Japan have a global environment strategy?” in the Nov. 13 edition, but regrettably they place more emphasis on diplomatic courtesy than on reality.

They favorably refer to Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi’s U.N. speech and Japan’s initiatives addressing environmental issues in cooperation with many countries in Asia and Africa, but they bear less substance than lip service.

For instance, Koizumi did not base his speech on any feasible and practical program. We have too many problems yet to be tackled for his talk to be taken seriously.

Japan’s foreign partners also leave their grave problems to grow worse; such as New Delhi’s ugly air quality, Indonesia’s illegal logging and burning, and the rapid destruction of river systems through anarchic exploitation of water and reckless construction of dams.

The Liberal Democratic Party has been pursuing structural reforms dictated by neoliberalism ideology that has exacerbated inequality and made poor people’s lives too miserable to give due consideration to the environment.

The reform badly needed now would be to destroy the business-politics-bureaucracy collusion that created the system of irresponsibility resulting in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, hampers the growth of renewable energy sources and shamelessly exports coal-fired power plants, not to mention the failure to raise public awareness about the urgency of global environmental problems.

Before formulating a global strategy, we need a domestic strategy that helps us change our thinking and behavior to rebuild our society to adapt to the state of Earth in the 21st century.

Unless Koizumi gets serious about this reality and pushes for upending the corrupt collusion of Japan Inc., he will end up as a showy accessory of a lame duck administration.


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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