Japan’s environmental politics and change

Local, national and global

Authored by: Peng Er Lam

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

Print publication date:  February  2011
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415551373
eBook ISBN: 9780203829875
Adobe ISBN: 9781136818387


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A hallmark of postwar Japan’s policymaking in environmental issues was the one-party dominance of the pro-business and conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the national level between 1955 and 2009. With a top priority on economic growth after the country’s catastrophic defeat in the Second World War followed by the U.S. Occupation, Japan underwent rapid industrialization and emerged as an economic superpower by the early 1970s. But the so-called Japanese economic miracle exacted a heavy price on the environment and human beings. The government’s single-mindedness on economic development and its attendant severity of industrial pollution triggered the rise of citizen protest movements (McKean 1981; Broadbent 1998). But these were initially ignored by the ruling LDP, its big business supporters and clients, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, from 2001 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry/METI).

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