Climate Change and Energy: Japanese Perspectives on Climate Change Mitigation Strategy
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Fujimoto former manager : I was always environmentally conscious, and I had once worked in the Environmental Department. In April , I was assigned to lead the Environmental Capital Section, which led me to ask myself a variety of questions about what I could do in Tokushima. We knew that the Japanese government was working on an adaptation plan. That was when I learned about the two climate change strategies: mitigation and adaptation. I learned that mitigation strategies are almost the same in any governmental organization anywhere in Japan, regardless of whether the measures are about energy saving or recyclable energy.
Adaptation measures, however, differ significantly by area depending on local conditions. I began talking with my coworkers, and fortunately, we had input from the prefectural assembly that facilitated our process. Our work then began to progress. You were putting your plan into action at extraordinary speed. Did you ever feel that developing the ordinance for the adaptation strategy was a high hurdle to clear?
Fujimoto: Not particularly. This may just be my personality, but I enjoy taking on new challenges.
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In addition, everyone around me worked hard to make the plan happen. How did you work with each department? Fujimoto: We first explained the main gist of the adaptation measures and asked departments to give us their goals and projects in the category of adaptation. One example is wakame brown seaweed , one of our prefectural specialty products. As water temperature increases, the production volume of wakame decreases. Scientists in the prefecture had been working on breed improvement to solve this problem.
We presented actual examples of adaptation when we talked with staff in each department, and then decided if their actions could be categorized as adaptation. Sharing the same level of knowledge in our discussions with department staff was important because doing so keeps everyone aware. Meetings and other official forums do not always facilitate candid interaction.
If you want to exchange and discuss individual ideas, what comes first is establishing a one-to-one relationship with each department. We would consider a measure from a broader perspective. If we felt that a specific measure was more or less related to adaptation, we added that measure to the category of adaptation, that is, as long as both sides felt comfortable. Doing this may have been a bit of a compromise.
If, however, our judgment had been too rigid about measures to include and exclude, the work of categorization alone would have been exhausting and time consuming.
What matters is not the judgements we made, but how we incorporated adaptation into action. Fujimoto: Because of the current status of Tokushima prefecture, if measures for urban and rural living were combined into a single field, the field would be too small for such measures.
This is because I thought everything was equally important to prefectural residents. Our prefectural population is aging more rapidly than the national average.
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With so many societal problems that we, like all other nations, face, my concern is that the immediate challenges, such as the aging of society, will make adaptation to climate change seem like a trivial problem. Climate change is our most significant challenge. We as individuals and as members of our prefecture must do all we can to face up to the challenges of climate change and rethink how we go about the business of our daily life.
We in Tokushima also have special geographical and climate characteristics, including steep topography, fragile geological features, and frequent typhoons. We established mechanisms in each of the six categories to reduce those risks. This is a daring attempt, but what made you decide to establish numerical targets?
Fujimoto: I am sure that the national plan had no numerical targets, but numerical targets are indispensable for developing our plans. Progress cannot be measured without numerical targets. The understanding among personnel in the Tokushima Prefectural Government is that if numerical targets are not included in the plan-do-check-act PDCA cycle, a plan does not exist.
Each project already had its own numerical targets, so we followed that practice, and each department was requested to set targets for new projects. Furthermore, young women in their 20s and 30s are also mostly working in non-regular jobs. As projected, climate change potentially leads to higher risk of disasters. Despite not being climate change-related, learning from the Kobe Earthquake, we can see that women tend to be less resilient to disasters due to their low-income status and low quality of housing, as well as limited access to information Saito , p.
For ageing single women, disasters can be more devastating due to the poorer structural nature of their housing, as a result of their low-earnings. Many of them live alone, as they receive a small pension or none at all, due to the instability of their occupation during their working years, or their inability to afford pension premiums if they worked in low-paid jobs after their divorce.
Another challenge Japan faces in relation to climate change is food security. Japan faced a major downturn in its agricultural sector from to The contribution of agricultural production towards Gross Development Product declined sharply from 9.
Facing the high risk of climate change ahead, Japan clearly needs revitalization of its agricultural sector, where gender becomes a core issue. In Japan, women's participation in agriculture has always been greater than men's and despite declining numbers in recent years, female farmers continue to outnumber male farmers. In the total number of female farmers was 1.
Yet in spite of the high participation rate of women in farming, men still continue to dominate leadership positions in the sector Iijima Further, with the enactment of the Basic Act for Gender Equality in Society and the Basic Law on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in , Japan promoted gender equality in the agricultural sector in rural communities by stipulating further involvement of women in agriculture. Introduction to mechanization, computerization, and the internet is among the factors encouraging women to be more engaged in businesses surrounding agricultural production.
Comparing the surveys by MAFF in and , there has been a significant upsurge in the number of farm business enterprises run by female farmers, from 4, to 9, Iijima Women contribute substantially to the agricultural sector, yet their access to resources and participation in decision-making remain limited. In Japan, traditionally the eldest sons will inherit the farmland from their fathers, while women are positioned as simply the wives of male farmers.
In the local Agricultural Committees a local decision-making body women comprised only 7. Meanwhile, at the grassroots level, various social movements and efforts to promote environmental and agricultural sustainability seem to have evolved both in rural and urban communities. Women bring significant influence to these social movements. The Girls' Farms project in Yamagata Prefecture has become a good example of farming revitalization where young women play significant roles Kakuchi, The young female farmers in their 20s and 30s cultivate their lands with watermelon, spinach, and several types of rice, and develop their business networks to establish markets for their farms' produce.
In an era where agriculture tends to be a less desirable occupation for the younger generation, this movement has brought a breath of fresh air to Japan's farming future, and given a good picture of women's capability in managing their lands as well as women's significance in Japan's agricultural revival Kakuchi ; Nita, Furthermore, local knowledge is a crucial aspect that must be paid attention to.
The school is located in The Shirakami Mountains, home of 16, hectares of natural virgin forests of Japanese beech. According to Nagai, local women in the Shirakami Mountains have become trailblazers in protecting the forest ecosystem as well as being the primary nurturers of 'ethnophilosophy'—borrowing Zeverin Emagalit's term, referring to communal experiences translated into culture, folklore, values and language—regarding human attachment to the forest and environment.
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