AsianForum 138th "Experts and Environmental Knowledge in 1960s and 1970s Japan"

Tuesday,April 17,2012

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Asian Forum
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Conference Room 203/204, Dialogue House 2FSimon Avenell
National University of Singapore, Modern Japanese History

Experts and Environmental Knowledge in 1960s and 1970s Japan

This paper examines the role of experts (social and natural scientists) in the Japanese environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Pioneering antipollution advocates such Tsuru Shigeto, Miyamoto Ken’ichi, and Ui Jun played formative roles in stimulating and shaping public discourse on the environment, in introducing Japanese industrial pollution to the outside world, and in influencing landmark legislative and judicial developments. Because of their privileged status they were able to build strong international networks for the exchange of scientific information and the formation of political movements. One of their organizations, the Pollution Research Committee, conducted surveys of polluted areas such Yokkaichi City, organized influential international conferences, and offered expert witnesses in pollution court cases. With extensive financial and institutional support from the then Ministry of Health and Welfare, this committee and its members became pioneering environmental advocates, often advancing positions deeply at odds with the prevailing political and economic mindset. The paper thinks through the role of these environmental experts in Japan and in the emergent global environmental movement of the time.

Lecture in English

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