How has industrial development affected Japan's environment?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Industrial development has been affecting Japan’s environment ever since the country really began to industrialize in the 1870s.  There have been a number of very negative consequences of industrialization.  Major consequences have been air pollution and water pollution.

Perhaps the most famous of the consequences of industrialization has been the mercury poisoning that has cropped up in Japan a number of times in its past.  In the past, mercury was released into rivers and got into the food chain.  With Japanese eating as much fish as they do, it led to serious health problems in a number of areas in Japan. 

For a long time, there was a great deal of air pollution in Japan as well.  There was a time in the 1970s when Tokyo’s air quality was terrible.  People could, for example, no longer see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo.  There were kiosks where people could pay to breathe clean oxygen. 

Recently, the biggest issue has been the release of radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear plant.  This was caused to some degree by industrialization as it was industrialization that led to the need for nuclear power.

Thus, Japan’s environmental problems have generally centered around air and water pollution caused by industrialization.