OLIVIA AMEZCUA WRITES – Summer 2018 was anything but relaxing for the 127 million people living in Japan. The nation was brutally struck with floods, heat waves, landslides, typhoons and earthquakes. The latest natural disaster to wreak havoc was Typhoon Jebi on September 4, the country’s strongest typhoon in 25 years, resulting in 400 people injured, 8,000 people homeless and hundreds of canceed flights – creating both health and economic negative consequences. While summer comes to a close, climate change worldwide is ever present and natural disasters will continue. A glimpse at the impact of climate change on Japan’s culture and economy may provide key lessons for the rest of the world.
In 2016, the government of Japan conducted a study about the public’s perception of climate change, with the goal of changing behaviors and attitudes on the topic. The survey revealed that 75% of Japanese people aged 18 to 29 years expressed interest in climate change — a significant drop from the 90% who showed interest a few years ago. Evidently, government attempts to win the attention and support of the younger generation have not been a resounding success. Instead, it seems, many millennials feel powerlessness to affect climate change and believe that other issues are more urgent.
Despite this trend, attention must be paid. The WFF Climate Change Programme released Nippon Changes in 2008. The document included some key takeaways: a projected overall increase in temperature for all of Japan by 2 to 3°C during the next 100 years, an increase in both the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and an increase in the cost of living / protection due to these events. Moreover, it was reported that, “the economic costs of climate change to Japan could be as high as ¥17 trillion (US$176 billion) annually by the end of the century”, if no action is taken now.
LEARNING FROM JAPAN
With Japan prone to natural disasters, no wonder the Japanese government has put special focus on disaster prevention and education. Billions of dollars have already been spent on developing advanced technologies. And Japan has been the global leader in disaster education. Now the world community must follow Japan’s example by providing education on disaster risk prevention, preparedness, reduction of resulting loss, environmental stewardship and sustainable lifestyles as well as consumption.
Such pre-emptive measures are needed to cut costs—not just financial ones, but those affecting the environment, the people and economies worldwide.