Forest Would Save Japan

As I was a member of an administration group of a big convention held in Tokyo and Osaka in November, I had absolutely no time to read books and to think many things other than convention preparation.  However, luckily, I had come across a book at a kiosk in Shin Osaka Bullet Train Station on the way back to Tokyo at the end of November.  The title of the book is, “This is it! Japan can survive with the new capitalism of village forest.”  I must say some of the contents are quite shocking.  However, as I wrote the other day in my blog, it is obvious that we Japanese should establish a fully independent economic model without depending too much on other countries.  Therefore, one of the reasons to purchase this book was that I was quite interested in this new capitalism of village forest.   

In order to further understand this new model, I also purchased later a book called, “Capitalism of Village Forest – Japanese economy moves with so-called principle of security.”  This book tells that the economy in rural areas can be activated with success stories.  As I am still half way through the book, I would like to write more about it later but one thing that I can mention now is about an example of Austria.

 

A population of Austria in 2012 is about 8.46 million (about 0.67% of that of Japan) and the area is 83,860 Km2 (about 22% of that of Japan) (source: World Bank).  It is a small country located in the inland of Central Europe.  However, its per capita GDP is US$ 67,304, ranked the fifth in the world, whereas the one of Japan is only US$ 46,707, ranked 12th (Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook Database). Self-sufficiency in grains there is at 95% (Japan at 26% in 2009) and in energy about 30% (Japan at 4%).  One of the reasons that Austria’s high self-sufficiency in energy is their forest resource. In Japan, the area of total forest vs. the total area is more than 60% compared to 47% of Austria.  Why not Japan utilizes its abundant forest resource without importing fossil fuel from abroad?  Well, it’s because of big cities like Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka where huge electricity is required to satisfy the needs.  However, think about this way.  Are big cities like Tokyo and Osaka are the only place for economic activities?  I doubt it.  Of course, in the past, Japanese economy grew, without exception, with mass production and consumption.  However, we Japanese also knew how to use things longer with its high technology as German people do.  It’s just for individual Japanese person to think about what are really necessary based on a smaller scale economy that requires only limited energy and can be satisfied with forest resource.  We will be able to find a better and new way of living based on this new capitalism. It would take some time to move away from big city-focused economy but it will be also possible for rural area to get activated with a new and “rich” type of Japanese life style. Total GDP might decline for a while but the trade deficit based on higher energy costs will be improved.  On top of this, per-capita GDP would also increase.

 

While we enjoy the economic improvement, we should also protect our forest for the sustainable growth through a new forestry protection system.  By controlling growth of forestry, and utilizing the current high technology such cars, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, PCs and other communication systems, we will be able to realize the richness of living in Mother Nature and our country would be truly independent.

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