Japan for Sustainability: Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies, and Practices

In Handbook of Sustainability Management
Chapter: edited by Madu C.N. and C. Kuei
Book Chapter

This chapter argues that Japan’s strategy for sustainability and environmental management
can be characterized as an approach to overcome environmental challenges by
harmonizing environmental conservation and economic competitiveness. This can be
characterized as Ecological Modernization that emphasizes improving efficiency and
expansion of voluntary approach by comprehending environmental challenges as opportunities for further technical progress, innovation, and industrial competitiveness.

Then,the chapter tries to further clarify such characteristic of the strategy for sustainability
through examination of waste management and recycling policies as well as global
warming policies of Japan in the 1990s. To follow-up this trend analysis, the chapter
overviews and analyzes two recent sustainability strategies developed by Ministry of the
Environment of Japan in the 2000s; “Strategy for an Environmental Nation in the 21st
Century” in 2007, and “Clean Asia Initiative” in 2008. By doing so, the chapter argues
that Japan’s sustainable strategy continues to emphasize “increasing efficiency” and “voluntary approaches” but also start to shift its focus on “integration of different policy
areas” and “international reach-out.” Although, toward true sustainability for Japan, it
is necessary to focus on total reduction in environmental impact from production and
consumption, there are no clear strategies or visions yet both at governmental level and
business level to achieve the next step of sustainability for Japan.