TVE Japan has been producing and distributing a series of programs "Japan's Pollution Experience" targeted to the developing countries in Asia and Pacific since 1995. Comprising of historically valuable archive films and testimony by witnesses of the time, the program describes the history of multiple industrial pollution and health damages throughout the period of rapid economic development in Japan
History of pollution in Japan is not the record of the past but could be a living lesson for the growing Asian countries. You can never duplicate the mistakes committed by Japanese industry and administration as well.
We have produced 7 episodes focusing from air, water, pesticides pollution to Ozone protection and waste management. These programs have been televised and presented by the environmental NGOs to the people nationwide in the Asian countries.
Japan is recognized as economic leader and technology nowadays. However in the course of economic growth after World War II, Japan had earned reputation of heavily polluted country. Japan suffered from all kinds of pollution because of the heavy industrialization at the expense of environment and people's health; Minamata disease, Yokkaichi asthma, Itai Itai disease are just a few well known examples. This program looks back how Japan has suffered from the pollution, then concur the problem without damaging the economic growth. It analyzes what cost more for companies, pursuing profit without care for the environment, or investing in the environmental measure at the very first stage.
Introducing not only high techniques to reduce air pollution but initiatives and capital investment of companies, and influence to make an air pollution policy from local people action. This film makes it clear that the same techniques to reduce air pollution also improve efficiency in energy resource and success the best saving energy in industrial circle in the world during high economic growth in Japan.
This program will portray facts and experiences Japan faced by using the automobile, and will serve as a message to other Asian nations that undergo a series of urbanization and motorization. It also includes environmental issues caused by the automobile, such as air pollution and global warming. What makes Japanese experience of the automobile special is that, technological advancement did solve many problems on air pollution, and made the industry prosper. The automobile industry in Japan keeps a view that technology can resolve care-related problems.
In an urgent recognition on the protection of the depleting ozone layer, international community adopted the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to phase out the production and use of ozone depleting substance. However, the emission of the CFCs into the air had still been continued until the legislation of collection and destruction of used CFCs was in effect. In Japan, it was the citizen's group who took action in collecting CFCs out of demolished cars, air conditioners and refrigerators and urged to the lawmakers to enact the law. The documentary depicts the experiences by Japanese people in an effort of implementing the Montreal Protocol.
As Japan rapidly industrialized after the WWII, use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer for farming increased dramatically. Even though these new chemicals seemed like a great invention for easing the hard work of farming and increasing the produce, farmers started feeling bad effects on their body. Hard-to-decompose Chemicals in nature that were released into the open field found their way to the river, air, soil and in the body of livestock, then finally in the human body . It was when unusually high level of pesticides residues was found in vegetables that consumers took their action. This film is about the consumers' searching for safe food, and farmers' struggles to produce food without using chemicals as well as the government's implementation of regulations moved by the civil voice.
Water is crucial resource everywhere in the world. But the developing countries in Asia still face difficulty in obtaining safe drinking water, constructing sewage system and installing treatment facilities of waste water from factories.
Japan experienced similar situation when we rushed into the economic development four decades ago. You can see in the archive pictures in this film how the untreated discharge from factories and homes polluted the environment. Rivers and lakes became so contaminated that even no mosquito could survive. Minamata Disease and other incident caused from water pollution were major topic in 1970s which raised awareness among citizens and corporates.
Regulation and punishment on industrial waste water emissions forced the factories to take measure of cleaning water before discharge and contributed to develop water disposal technologies. On the other hand, household groups started a movement to use soap instead of chemical detergent first in the Biwa Lake area, Japan's largest lake, in order to prevent the lake from eutrophication. People learned controlling emission sources would be the best and efficient way of cleaning water. Freshwater fishes came back to the Tama river which flows in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.
We recognize that we should transmit information to the Asian friends how Japan has suffered from the water pollution last few decades. There still remain problems like eutrophication of lakes, which tells us the hardness of restoring once destroyed environment again. We hope the film 'ringing back water to Life' will give you suggestions to help your effort of solving water pollution problems.
Japanese gained material wealth after rapid economic growth which lifted their living standard greatly. Especially in urban cities, mass production and consumption led to emission of massive garbage. Japan handled its garbage by burying it in the mountains and reclaiming lands offshore. However this method had reached its limitations. The landfill site became full very quickly when the amount of garbage increased significantly. Further it was becoming hard to find a new landfill site as well. Industrial waste produced from factories and construction site had nowhere to go but less populated country side and remote islands. These illicit wastes started being dumped and often times accumulated to be big waste mountains causing environmental pollution. By the time illegal dumping was exposed the waste had accumulated so much nothing can be done about it.
Garbage pollution is difficult to tackle because there is a countless emission sources which includes trashes produced from our daily lives. Such trashes for example are discarded cars and home appliances. We might not know if or where these trashes are making up island of waste and polluting the surrounding environment. The fact that victims and victimizer are not visible to each other makes the situation more complex and hard to resolve.
This episode portrays citizens who questioned the city's garbage legislation and voluntarily started recycling campaign; the challenge city of Nagoya had gone through when it withdrew a new reclamation plan, eventually leading to dramatic drop in garbage emission. Further the most typical illegal dumping case caused in Teshima island, Kagawa prefecture was shed light in the program.
So many unresolved waste problems remain in Japan however we hope that the viewers will learn what environmental burden garbage can create and listen to the voices of the victims of the waste. In the end the program raises a question, "how should the form of production and consumption in the coming future become?"