Japanese people always find time to slip in how environmentally friendly they are.
I’ll be off drinking beers and some Japanese guy will come along an tell me about how Americans are so wasteful and how I’m destroying the world.
And while he’ll lack the balls to go full out, like your average douchey American guy from Boulder, who’d be doing back flips to tell me about how his Prius owns my Camero and how special he is, the Japanese guy will definitely make a few covert gestures in his ride’s general direction.
That’s the Japanese, polite enough to subtly point out how they’re better than you, instead of screaming in your face. Even in a society that downplays the braggart cocksucker, people still love to smell their own farts.
Oh, Japan you do some things right, no doubt, but don’t just go on universally praising yourself just yet.
I’ll say you’re on the right track, albeit, caveats included:
Japan hates the sun. It’s summer now, it’s hot, and yet, people are wearing more clothes now in the middle of the summer than you’ll find them with in the middle of winter to shield their skin.
However, they absolutely love the sun’s ability to power their homes. The Japanese government eagerly jumped on subsidizing the installation of solar power arrays for private and public use early on in the game.
Riding on trains I see a plethora of roofs with their arrays gleaming in the sunshine.
It’s expensive to establish, but once going, folks can sell back energy into the grid, saving cash in the long run.
Unfortunately, the government stopped subsidizing it in 2006 and people stopped caring.
They’re looking to reintroduce them in order to meet epic goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80% by 2050, but with the awesome debt they’ve been able to dig for themselves, it seems like quite a feat.
This all hinges on a government without money and the fact that people are only going to use these systems if they’re cheap to implement. At the end of the day, people here (and most everywhere) don’t see the long term savings when compared next to short term costs.
Good luck on the second Solar Panel Revolution, Japan! On the plus side, your electronics companies could use something to do to stave off all that bleeding!
Public Transportation Alternatives
Japan does public transportation pretty damn well. As I wrote about in my ‘Living Cheaply” post, a good majority of people are still getting by in my town on bicycles. Unfortunately, government money supporting many of the public systems with little traffic are often finding themselves cut out entirely (I’ve seen a number of bus lines go down recently in my rural neck of the woods).
The expense of travel has often kept people from setting off in their cars to cover large distances, although recent reductions in highway tolls on weekends have increased the number of people getting out across Japan in their cars, perhaps creating more pollution that the government expected.
Getting people out there to spend their yen still trumps reducing pollution. Sorry green movement, economy 1, environment 0.
This is being subsidized again by that government under a mountain of debt.
Cars and the Hybrid Movement
At the very least, Japan’s hybrid movement is still going strong. I see tons of these things on the road, but it’d sure be nice to see some new designs out there. I’d rather choke on a cock then drive something as ugly as a Prius. My girlfriend drives one and while I’m more than happy to be a passenger, I never really feel like getting behind the wheel. It just doesn’t feel like a car.
Japan should watch out. Although the US fell woefully behind in the market, they’ve now hit rock bottom and are really pressing to diversify and get back in the game. Tesla motors had the smart idea to sell a bunch of high-end electric roadsters to rich folks in America. They’re now introducing a sedan for about $50,000 and are hitting the European market. While Toyota and the others invest huge amounts of money to slightly improve the battery size of their hybrids, they might want to keep up innovation in other areas. Their hybrid models make me yawn when I can dream of a car that will take me 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds.
Still, it looks like Japanese consumers are pretty sold on the idea of paying a bit more for a hybrid over the long term savings, something that’s been a harder sell for things like solar arrays and they don’t seem to care so much if their hybrids scream “boring.”
I wonder if there are any countries in the world with more annoying recycling programs. Every day I peel off the plastic labels from plastic PET bottles, wash everything out, toss the cap and label in one garbage, the bottle in another. One of my earliest memories in Japan was learning various Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana symbols just to figure out the recycling labels to know what kind of trash I was holding and where to put it.
But alas, I do it.
It’s really efficient and one of the few things I see Japanese doing that saves the environment that presents an endless and absolute hassle to them.
It’s mostly because of social pressure, as in many neighborhoods the old ladies are out in force, using their free time to stare at garbage, making note of the people who don’t sort things correctly, then attacking them with old lady piss and vinegar.
I’ve known foreigners were old ladies dropped by with a marker and instructed them to label their foreign garbage so that they could check and make sure they weren’t fucking up.
I still see a good many Japanese folk throw caution to the wind and catch many people that live on the rivers just tossing their trash in the water. I grew up on New Jersey beaches in the 80s famous for their hypodermic needles and human body parts, but I can’t say I find many beaches on the Seto Nai Kai much cleaner.
There’s also a giant problem with disposing of hazardous things. It’s extremely hard to get rid of an electronic item that’s over 5 years old, despite the condition, and you often have to pay extreme rates to buy stickers and arrange for a pickup.
When I moved out of a place and got rid of appliances my old roommate had left, I paid about 300 dollars to have stuff taken away that wasn’t new enough to go second hand with. Don’t think I didn’t briefly ponder throwing things in the river.
There are a lot of old kitchen appliances in rivers. I can’t understand why the gov would charge so much cash for picking up things it can actively breakdown into recycled materials, reuse, and make money off of. I also don’t understand why they wouldn’t assume that a good % of the population doesn’t feel like paying those kind of rates and would illegally dispose of them.
In my town in America, we had two phone calls to the city gov per year where they’d haul away our junk free of charge. If you don’t want a river full of TV sets, it might be a good option to consider.
(That’s it for part 1. In Part 2 I’ll talk about a few more things I can nearly applaud Japan for, along with getting into a few things that they do horribly wrong.
I’d love to see what yall think in regards to where Japan gets some pats on the back and where they deserve some heat)