Environment, Education, and Society in the Asia-Pacific: Local Traditions and Global Discourses

By David Yencken; John Fien et al. | Go to book overview

4

Oya-Shima-Kuni: Japan

Brendan Barrett, Osamu Abe, Eiichiro Harako and Satoshi Ichikawa

In eight more years we celebrate
A less polluted world.

A tanka (31 syllable poem) written in 1884 (Irokawa 1985)

Nearly every day I have these coughing spells. When it happens at night, I can't sleep. Almost every day I visit the hospital. Sometimes I think that I'd be better off dead because it would set me free of this. Still, I keep going because I don't want our children and grandchildren to suffer like this. It's my wish that no more people will fall victim to pollution.

(Nishiyodogawa Pollution Lawsuit Plaintiffs and Counsel News, 20 October 1994)

Japan is the paragon post-industrial economy and the first industrialized democracy in the non-Western world. Environmental attitudes in Japan, as elsewhere, have been influenced by an array of social, cultural, geographical and climatic factors. Looking into the history of Japanese philosophy, religion and literature, it is possible to trace the evolution of a distinct intellectual tradition concerned with the relationship between humanity and the natural world (Davenport 1998). For instance, the Kojiki (written in AD 712) describes how the heavens and the earth came into existence, emerging from a state of chaos over a period of millions and millions of years. It explains how the heavens gave birth to deities and how two of them, Izanagi and Izanami, were sent forth with the sacred spear, Ama-no-Nuboko, charged with the task of creating and ruling over the land. The world they beheld from heaven appeared as a fog-bound sea. Izanagi placed the spear into sea and drawing it up observed how great drops fell from it coagulating to form the island known as Onokoro. The two gods descended to this island and began their next task of creating a country. First, they created the island of Awaji, next Shikoku and then the island of Oki. Following this, Kyushu, and after that the island Tsushima, were created. Lastly, Honshu, the main island of Japan was created. The name Oya-shima-kuni (country of eight great islands) was given to the island chain.

This green archipelago has been inhabited for over 13,000 years beginning with the Jomon era (11,000 BC to 300 BC). For this entire period,

-75-

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Environment, Education, and Society in the Asia-Pacific: Local Traditions and Global Discourses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures, Tables and Boxes vii
  • Foreword xii
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Attitudes to Nature in the East and West 4
  • 2 - The Research 28
  • 3 - Environmental Attitudes and Education in Southern China 51
  • 4 - Oya-Shima-Kuni: Japan 75
  • 5 - Living Traditions: India 99
  • 6 - Unity and Diversity: South East Asia 113
  • 7 - Songlines and the Gondwanan Inheritance 135
  • 8 - Voices from the South West Pacific 163
  • 9 - Young People and the Environment 189
  • 10 - Young People and the Environment 221
  • 11 - Listening to the Voice of Youth 251
  • Appendix A 276
  • Appendix B 288
  • Bibliography 313
  • Index 330
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