Professor Masazumi Harada was the first detector of the effect of organic hydrargyrum or Minamata Disease on humans. He has devoted himself to helping victims of the disease and to various environmental issues.
He has published a number of books on the issue, including: Mental and Neurological Disturbances due to Organic Mercury Poisoning During Prenatal Period; Minamata Disease, Words and Photography: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning; Epidemiology in Neurology; Organic Mercury Poisoning; Carbondisulfate Poisoning and Mercury Poisoning; Congenital Minamata; Never Ending Minamata Disease; History of Minamata Disease; The End of Minamata Disease Not Yet in Sight.
Mr. Osamu Kobayashi is Director of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the world's largest private electric utility. In June 1968, he assumed office as the first Manager of Environmental Administration at the Department of the Environment. TEPCO was the first electric utility in Japan to establish such a section to deal with control measures for environmental protection. He has been responsible for TEPCO's promotion of environmental protection for the last 20 years. He has been working to develop and introduce innovative technologies such as, high grade electrostatic precipitators, flue gas desulturization and denitrification technologies. With the belief that the electric power company should fulfil its social responsibilities as a public utility corporation, he contributed to the decision, by top management, to introduce the use of LNG, making TEPCO the world's first electric utility to use such a low-polluting fuel for power generation. Thanks to his commitment, TEPCO has had tremendous influence over the consolidation and improvement of environmental protection measures taken by other electric power companies. Mr. Kobayashi has taken the lead in concluding voluntary agreements with local governments on pollution control on thermal power plants. These agreements provide environmental standards that are far more stringent than those required by Japan's national laws and ordinances.
Yokkaichi City and Mayor Kanshi Kato
Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture was once notorious for its smog. Throughout the 1960s and the early 1970s, the City was badly polluted by sulfur dioxide from its huge oil and petrochemical manufacturing complex.
In 1976, the City achieved the clean-air requirements on sulfur dioxide and by 1987, it was clean enough to be designated by the Environment Agency as a City where "the starry heavens could be seen". After arduous technological and administrative battles, the Yokkaichi Pollution Control Board was able to implement a successful pollution control project integrating environment and development.
Yokkaichi transferred its know-how to other cities with similar needs. In 1990, it became the host of the International Centre for Environmental Technology Transfer - which reaches out to developing nations and trained 345 overseas experts from 26 countries.
Yokkaichi City pioneered public medical care programmes to assist patients with pollution-related respiratory diseases, an initiative which led to the enactment of the 1973 Pollution Related Compensation Law. Two green buffer zones have been developed and 340 billion Yen have been spent on environmentally sound measures.
Yokkaichi City and Mayor Kanshi Kato
Professor Akio Morishima
Professor Akio Morishima is an eminent international lawyer whose primary concern has been environmental protection for more than three decades. He is considered a theoretical leader in environmental law and policy development in Japan and in environmental research and science. He has served in this field at national and international levels and has been an enthusiastic supporter of environmental justice. He participated, as an expert adviser to the plaintiffs' lawyers in two important court cases, namely the Yokkaichi Asthma Litigation and the Shinkansen Super-Express Train Noise Litigation. Not only did the plaintiffs win the case, his efforts resulted in the strengthening of pollution control and environmental protection measures by the Government. As Chairman of the Policy Committee of the Central Environmental Council, he was the mastermind behind the report Basic Environment Plan which outlines the long-term policies for environmental conservation in Japan, while taking into account the outcome of the Earth Summit in Brazil. Professor Morishima has also taken the lead in environmental research and science, and has played a key role in promoting environmental awareness and community action through the Chubu Environmental Association which he established. He is a member and representative of the Consumer Action Network in Nagoya - a consumer and environmental groups forum. He is President of the Japan Society of Environmental Sciences and a member of the Executive Board of the Japan Centre for Human Environmental Problems. Through his actions, he has gained the confidence of governments and community-based organizations alike. He is also a member of the Commission of International Environmental Law of IUCN and of the Editorial Advisory Board of the World Resources Institute.
Ube is an industrial city of 175,000 and a century old coal mine which closed in 1967. Since the 1940s coal, cement and chemical factories have been a significant source of pollution in the area. Ube City established a committee, comprising university professors, industrial leaders, citizens and city officials, to clean the polluted air. The Committee decided to have industry install dust control equipment and to have the City and citizens purchase water sprays for road cleaning, and to promote the planting of greenery and flowers as part of a post second world war recovery plan. Ube City is considered a leader in the scientific approach to air pollution control using epidemiology, pollution monitoring, engineering, operation, management and investment by industry and information and education by mass media. The area's comprehensive pollution control plan started in 1976 with a series of mid-term plans which included the installation of a sewerage system, a night soil treatment plant and urban incineration plants. A recycling centre with classes for consumers recently begun operation and automatic, mobile and manual monitoring systems for air, water and noise were installed to verify compliance with quality standards. About 50 volunteers monitor odours from surrounding chemical plants. The airport plan was adjusted based on the advice of the City Environment Council, and in 1971 a joint emergency task force was established by the City's fire department and industry to cope with plant accidents and oil spills.
Yasuo Goto, chairman of the Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company and a business leader always includes the environment in his company's policies. Since 1994, more than 3,000 people have participated in environmental awareness courses, organized by Yasuda in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Yasuda has reduced the use of natural resources by implementing a practical management system. In November 1997, its computer center was the first financial institution to be certified in conformity with ISO1401, and today it is providing other organizations with the know-how to get certification. In 1992, he led the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (KEIDANREN) delegation to the Earth Summit - where he represented some 1,000 companies. Soon after, the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF) was established and Goto appointed Chairman, KNCF has supported 71 conservation projects implemented by NGOs in 23 countries. In 1993 and 1996, he attended the IUCN Congress where KNCF activities were lauded as an excellent example of partnership between business and NGOs. KNCF hosts seminars, lectured by leading environmentalists from around the world, to educate Japanese leaders on nature conservation. At the Kyoto Conference in December 1997, KNCF and the World Bank co-sponsored a symposium. Goto is Chairman of the Common Agenda Round Table of Japan, which held a workshop in May 1997 on environmental awareness and education where recommendations were formulated and presented to the cabinets of the United States and Japan.
Global Environmental Action
In 1991, Global Environmental Action (GEA) was established as a non-governmental organization (NGO), whose committee comprises decision-makers of high standing in the fields of policy, industry and academia. GEA is continuously playing a key role as an advocator of environmental protection and sustainable development in close collaboration with UN organizations. In March 1992, three months before the Rio Summit, GEA held its first international Eminent Persons Conference on Financing Global Environment and Development in Tokyo in collaboration with the UNCED Secretariat. The results of this Conference, presented to the special session of the Earth Summit for consideration, did much to pave the way for the successful discussions and outcome of the Summit. In 1994, GEA hosted its second international conference entitled "Tokyo Conference on Environmental Action" in cooperation with the UN Committee on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). Using the conclusions of this conference as a base, the '94 Tokyo Declaration was sent around the world calling for a deepening international dialogue and global concrete actions, which would contribute to sustainable development. In 1997, to review the implementation of Agenda 21 and provide input to the UN General Assembly at its Special Session, GEA, in conjunction with UNCSD, held its third international conference entitled "Global Partnership Summit on Environment".
Dr. Makoto Numata
As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservation Society since 1960, Dr. Makoto Numata has played a leading role in nature conservation activities throughout Japan. As a member of the Ecology Commission of IUCN, he has carried out scientific surveys and compiled a number of reports. His efforts to save natural forests were rewarded when the Environment Agency designated 15 forests as wilderness areas and the Forestry Agency designated 26 areas as forest reserves. As a member of IUCN's Species Survival Commission, he compiled Japan's first Data Book of Plant Species in 1989 and the Red Data Book of Plant Communities in 1996. as a member of IUCN's Commission on Education and Communication, he led the environment education movement and established the Environment Education Academy in 1990. He was also involved in promoting the World Heritage Convention and the Biosphere Reserve concept. He has been the Chairman of the IUCN Japan Committee since 1988 and he has been the Chairman of the East Asian Commission on Protected Areas since 1993. He hosted the Second Conference on National Parks and Protected Areas of East Asia and compiled a regional action plan for protected areas in East Asia in 1996.
Professor Masayuki Tanaka
Professor Masayuki Tanaka of Tohoku University in Japan has greatly contributed to the development of climatology and global environmental science, through his research on greenhouse gases (GHG) and aerosols. For more than 30 years, he has been one of the greatest advocates of the impact of climate change. His most remarkable achievement was in establishing the relationship between GHGs and aerosols. His findings form the basis of the methodology used to predict future climate change. His other achievements include: the establishment of a model incorporating multi-dispersion process in radiation transmissions and its application to determine the relationship between the earth's temperature, albedo and aerosols; the establishment of methodologies for estimating refractive index and size of aerosol for understanding of its temporal and spatial distribution; the clarification of relationship between aerosol distribution pattern and volcanic eruption and scattering particles from desert, using air-borne survey of intensity of direct and dispersive sunlight; the evaluation of radioactive characteristics of heterogeneous clouds, which lead the denial of abnormal absorption of solar radiation by clouds; and the establishment of a methodology for measuring the concentration and isotopic ratio of GHG, which enables the mapping of GHG concentration in the Asia-Pacific region. He is the author of several books on climate change, which have led to a better understanding of the issue.
Toyota Motor Club
The Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan is increasingly trying to meet the challenges facing our planet by developing vehicles that are environment-friendly. Every aspect of their industry, from research, production, distribution, sales and service focus on sustainable development and the improvement of overall corporate excellence. In December 1997, Toyota introduced Prius to the market, the world's first passenger vehicle in production powered by `hybrid power train system'. Prius offers twice the fuel efficiency compared with conventional vehicles and cuts HC, CO and NOx emissions to about one tenth. Toyota has been one of the most aggressive companies to develop the Fuel Cell Electric vehicle, which has already achieved the high-level performance that their prototype car has run on the test track. Toyota is also very positive towards ISO14000, and all of their sites, including overseas plants, will be accredited within this century. Since the beginning of 1997, Toyota has had an Eco-project - a public declaration featuring the importance of ecology-oriented business philosophy.