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The Cyclical Economy of Japan

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Title: The Cyclical Economy of Japan
Authors: Yoshida, Fumikazu Browse this author →KAKEN DB
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Hokkaido University
Abstract: With the arrival of the 21st century, the concepts of a "sustainable society" and a "cyclical society" have established themselves. The reasons for this are that environmental limitations and changes in the socio-economic structure have heralded the end of economic growth and an expansionist philosophy, and we are now forced to consider how we shall greet the new age of population decline and shrinking economies. It does not follow, however, that there is clear agreement on what the new society should be like. With such global environmental concerns in mind, this book therefore attempts to determine the basic conditions and challenges involved in creating a "cyclical society" in modern Japan by asking whether it is possible to realize human well-being while lowering our environmental burden. I begin with a general overview of the book. In 2000, Japan enacted the Basic Law for Establishing a Cyclical Society (Cyclical Society Law); thiswas followed by several specific waste-and recycling-related laws created within the framework of the Cyclical Society Law. Among these are the Container and Packaging Waste Recycling Law, the Household Appliance Recycling Law, and the Automobile Recycling Law, while the Wastes Disposal and Public Cleansing Law has subsequently been amended a number of times. But investigation of whether waste is being reduced and whether recycling is making progress reveals many problems that remain to be solved, including illegal dumping and the export of waste to other countries. The book uses the notion of the material cycle and regime/actor analysis as the keys to understanding such problems. To begin with, the material cycle is discussed on a global scale and examined as a component of global environmental problems with the idea of determining the size of the global cycle in natural history, while attempting to discern the impact of human society's byproducts -- such as carbon and heavy metal goods -- on the cycle. Since, in the modern world, energy, raw materials, and products are supplied worldwide, and are thus moving and circulating across national borders, governments must formulate "domestic cycle policies" in accordance with this reality. The book examines each step in the progression from extraction of overseas resources to the transport of raw materials and parts, their use and processing, finished products, waste, and finally export to other countries. After an overview of the cyclical society and the waste economy as a whole, I seek to demonstrate in an easy-to-understand manner the effectiveness of the second analysis key, regime/actor analysis (Chapter 1). Chapter 2 will explain the basic laws for the cyclical society, this book's main theme, and it examines each stage from waste reduction to reuse, recycling, proper disposal, and use for energy. In particular, this chapter will discuss the nature of waste, the need for material cycle control laws, and the market for used products. In this section, I wish to emphasize that recycling is a means, while the objective is to reduce the environmental burden. As means to measure the environmental burden, the chapter will discuss and explain MIPS, the ecological footprint, hidden flow, and other concepts, and provide the point of view needed to assess material cycling laws(Box.2). Chapter 3 explores the achievements and direction of reform under the Container and PackagingWaste Recycling Law, which became effective in 1997. In particular, it discusses such matters as why the number of PET bottles is increasing, and the amount of taxes used to run this program, and it shows the problems of giving the highest priority to recycling. Chapter 4 discusses the Appliance Recycling Law system and the increase in wastes that are hard to dispose of properly, and investigates whether illegal dumping is actually increasing. It also notes that something over 50% of the potential recoverable number of the "four appliance types" designated by the Appliance Recycling Law is actually being recovered, and it discusses the actual situation in the used appliance market and the overseas export of junked products. Chapter 5 discusses the Automobile Recycling Law, effective from 2005,in the light of illegal dumping on Teshima Island, automobile shredder residue, the automobile life cycle, and the paying of recyclers to accept materials; it then moves on to a discussion of the problems caused by the new system. Chapter 6 discusses construction and demolition waste and food waste, which are the main types of industrial waste, and then deals with the new Building Construction Materials Recycling Law and Food Waste Recycling Law. In particular, since much biological organic waste has a high moisture content, odor-suppressing measures become crucial, while there is a close connection with food production and consumption. Chapter 7 asks whether illegal dumping can be stopped, and in that light considers Japan's biggest illegal dumping incident (on the Aomori-Iwate prefectural border),as well as how to ensure that waste generators take responsibility, the role of waste taxes, cooperation and allocation of roles among administrative authorities, businesses, and citizens. With regard to society's future direction, the concluding chapter discusses the sustainable society, things and their functions, as it considers a way to provide for human well-being and a reduction of the environmental burden. As consumers, citizens have surprisingly few opportunities to find out how the products they use are made, and what happens to them after they are consumed. This book will therefore attempt to provide readers with a written "factory tour" so they can see how consumer appliances, automobiles, and other products are actually produced, and how they are managed as waste. Many of my examples will be from Hokkaido because that is where I live, but I will also present information on nationwide trends discovered during my investigations. On the basis of their environmental reports, I will also describe some specific environmental initiatives taken by companies. This book has particular aims: (1) Toshowacorrespondence between reality and principle; (2) Toexplain the latest research in an easy-to-understand manner so that it is interesting and useful; (3) Tomake policy proposals instead of just pointing out problems; and (4) Togive readers a better understanding with the aid of "boxes",definitions of terms, a list of references. Overall, this book argues that the cyclical society's purpose is to minimize the environmental burden while increasing human well-being.
Description: Second Edition
Rights: (C)2007 by Hokkaido University. All rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the Publisher.
Type: book
Appears in Collections:公共政策学教育部・公共政策学連携研究部 (Graduate School of Public Policy / Faculty of Public Policy) > 雑誌発表論文等 (Peer-reviewed Journal Articles, etc)

Submitter: 吉田 文和

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