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Edited by Tony Fitzpatrick
Chapter 8: Environmental and social policies in Japan
In Japanese modern history, the end of the Second World War in 1945 marked an absolute turning point in nearly all dimensions, including politics, the economy and society. The Tokyo metropolitan area and many other cities were physically destroyed, and people's traditional ways of thinking and values were simultaneously denied. Restoration in the postwar era was thus the starting point for Japan's industrialization, rapid economic growth, economic prosperity and many of the other new issues that Japan faces today. The same can be said for Japan's environmental and social policies. During the six decades of the post-war era, environmental problems and the policies to deal with them were considered to have little direct relationship with social welfare and social security policies. Environmental and social policies were developed almost independently of each other from a procedural point of view. In most cases, the two types of policies were developed and implemented by the relevant ministries and agencies that had the authority to do so. Policy-making processes involve different types of stakeholders, pressure groups, industries and politicians. There are some groups of academic experts in Japan who are knowledgeable in both the environmental and social policy arenas. One is a group of environmental sociologists, who are interested in studying environmental problems from sociological perspectives (Iijima 1994; Kada 2002; Hasegawa 2004; Torigoe 2004). These experts have been influential in elucidating how environmental pollution has affected local people's daily lives, and how those harmed by pollution were relieved, both economically and socially.
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