Japan’s air pollution problem has continued being a challenge to the government, despite rigorous laws trying to reduce pollution from its various sources. The problem isn’t just in Japan, air pollution is a worldwide problem that’s impacting plant and animal life everywhere. Air quality needs to be higher on the list of environmental actions to take so that everyone can have clean, fresh air.
Images of Japan often include stunning mountain ranges, delicate Zen gardens with bonsai trees, and architecturally beautiful cities. A stark contrast to these tranquil images is the fact that air quality is a huge issue for Japan. Japan air pollution has been dangerously high in the past but in recent years, Japan has become a world leader in pollution-control technologies.
As industry and modernization in Japan have progressed, high levels of toxic gases which are emitted into the atmosphere threaten Japan’s air quality, water quality, and the size of Japan’s forests. These toxic gases mostly come from energy consumption and vehicle carbon emissions. Clearly, Japan recognizes the importance of controlling air pollution and has imposed governmental programs and standards to improve the quality of Japan’s air.
- The Air Pollution Control Law, most recently amended in 1996, was originally enacted in 1968. The purpose of the 1968 law was to implement air quality monitoring systems and to develop emissions standards for both industry and automobiles. Despite the fact that automobiles are a major cause of Japan’s air pollution, these emission controls, coupled with laws aimed at reducing traffic congestion, have not been successful in decreasing traffic. Surprisingly, the percent of private cars on the roads as compared to mass transit trains has increased in recent years. As a result, the level of automobile emissions has increased and Japan’s air quality is still very poor.
- In the past few years, Japan has increased its focus on developing and implementing pollution control technologies and innovations that are energy efficient. For a country that is steeped in tradition, the Japanese government’s new environmentally sound policies are markedly different than its previous approach to economic development, which was implemented without regard to the effect on the environment.
Despite efforts to improve air pollution in Japan, Japan’s economic growth has resulted in more energy being consumed each day. Economic growth has translated to more traffic, more electricity use, more waste, and more air pollution. In response, the Japanese government is trying to reduce overall energy consumption by offering economic incentives and encouraging the use of non-polluting energy sources. If Japan can expand its nuclear power generation as described in Japan’s 2002 10-year energy plan, 9 12 new nuclear power plants will be built by 2010. Not only would nuclear energy help decrease carbon emissions, but would also reduce Japan’s reliance on other countries for energy.
Another negative impact on Japan’s air quality is the poor air quality in the Asian nations surrounding Japan. Japan is concerned about environmental issues not only throughout Asia but also throughout the entire world. As such, Japan is an active member of the international community committed to resolve these common issues. Japan’s air pollution is recognized not just as a Japanese problem but a global problem that needs to be addressed on an international level. No country can be blamed for all the pollution in the atmosphere, which means that countries need to work in harmony to solve a problem that impacts the entire earth.