Building a Sound Material Cycle Society: Learning from Japan

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This short essay discusses the national policy development in Japan moving from a society based on mass-production, mass-consumption, and mass-disposal towards establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society (SMC). It looks at how Japan has successfully created a local resource efficiency and regional vitalisation based on a harmonised approach toward circulation, low-carbon, and unity with nature. Historically, Japan was famous for creating such a society in harmony with nature based on the "Mottainai Spirit" (the spirit of avoiding being wasteful in life), particularly in the Edo period (before 1868). These concepts have been passed down over generations and are currently gathering more attention than ever in establishing a sustainable society. Based on two case studies, including Oki Town in Fukuoka Prefecture and Minamisanriku town in Miyagi Prefecture, it identifies an urgency to develop an SMC society based on local wisdom and experience to overcome the triple planetary crisis (climate, nature and pollution) that the global community is facing at present.