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Remarks by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Opening Ceremony of the Science and Technology in Society Forum (STS Forum)
September 11, 2005
Your Imperial Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A month ago the space shuttle Discovery completed its two-week mission and returned safely to Earth. On the tenth day of the mission I spoke to Mr. Soichi Noguchi, the Japanese astronaut aboard the space shuttle. Mr. Noguchi told me that as he took a long look at Earth during his spacewalks he felt as if he was an orbiting star himself. He certainly seemed to enjoy his work. It is amazing to think that astronauts are conducting experiments and repairing the space station so far out in space, 400 kilometers away from Earth. This reminded me once again of the greatness of the human spirit to challenge. Right before my eyes was evidence that science and technology can go beyond our own imagination.
Back here on Earth, we are embarking on a difficult mission of protecting our planet and preserving it for future generations. This year, we started a new initiative in Japan to help prevent global warming. From June this year and throughout the summer months, we are encouraging people to go to work in casual dress-that is, without tie or jacket. Summers in Japan are very humid and hot. If people dress lighter and abandon their jackets and ties, it is possible to work comfortably without lowering the thermostat too much. If office thermostats are set at higher temperatures, women who have had to suffer from heavily air-conditioned offices would also benefit. We have named this new initiative "COOL BIZ." Some people expressed concerns that this tie-and-jacket-free policy may have a negative impact on the tie and apparel industries. However, the reverse seems to be true and I hear that men's apparel sales, and particularly men's shirt sales, have risen significantly.
The Prime Minister's new Official Residence was completed in April this year. In addition to solar power generation and wind power generation, it boasts the world's first ever household fuel cell system that uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity and heat. In order to protect the environment we must step up our efforts beginning with the things we can do in our immediate surroundings. It is important for the government to take the initiative and turn ideas into actions. The government's initiative to use environmentally friendly energies will boost their use among households and encourage further technological development. If this brings down the cost of environmentally friendly energies, their use would become more widespread. This is the ideal scenario in which a virtuous cycle of environmentally conscious activities and technologies would become mutually supporting.
The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in February this year. Under the Protocol, member countries undertook maximum efforts to prevent global warming. In order to achieve Japan's commitment of a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012, the Japanese Government launched a project called "Team Minus 6%." The project is intended to encourage a team mentality in each and every citizen to take an active approach toward the prevention of global warming.
Protecting our beautiful environment comes at a cost. There are many people who think that efforts to protect the environment would hold back the progress of economic development. This is not the case. Environmental protection and economic development are mutually achievable and sustainable. It is science and technology that hold the key to achieving the dual goals.
Forty years ago Japan harnessed the fruits of science and technology to their fullest in its determined pursuit of economic growth. The country pushed ahead in a period of high-speed growth, and the economy expanded by more than ten percent every year. It was during this time when mass production and mass consumption were being hailed that pollution became a major problem in Japan. In those days it was thought that any consideration to environmental protection would come at great cost. Now, however, people are buying environmentally friendly products, even if they are expensive. We have entered an era in which environmentally conscious products, technologies and companies are more likely to sell or record growth.
We are no longer in an era of mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal. Instead, we are now in an era characterized by the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Specifically, reduce waste as much as possible, reuse what is usable as resources, and recycle to move closer to a recycling society or a zero-emission society.
In Japan, there has long been a spirit characterized by the word "mottainai," which could be literally translated as "don't waste what is valuable." Last spring, I met with Professor Wangari Maathai, Kenya's Deputy Minister of Environment and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She told me how the people of Japan take great care to look after things, and remarked on the highly advanced state of environmental protection measures in Japan, pointing to the notion of "mottainai" that Japanese people traditionally share as the reason for this. Professor Maathai told me that she would like to spread this spirit across Africa. The 3Rs can be encapsulated in this one word of "mottainai," and science and technology are indispensable to the promotion of the 3Rs and "mottainai."
The progress of science and technology has certainly made our lives more comfortable, but it has also raised new issues, namely, global warming, human cloning and other bioethical issues, infectious diseases including avian influenza, and IT-related issues such as cyberattacks. These issues have a global reach and cannot be solved by a single country. Nevertheless, it is my belief that these issues will definitely be solved if the development of science and technology is promoted in an appropriate way.
Eight years ago, at this conference hall in Kyoto, countries adopted the Kyoto Protocol, putting the future of our Earth before their individual interests. I sincerely hope that participants to this STS Forum will likewise hold active discussions that transcend national borders and individual positions for the sake of our common future.
Thank you for your attention.