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JFS's Newest Challenge: The "Local Well-Being" Project

We often hear the word "sustainability" in use around the globe. This is because most societies of the world are largely unsustainable. According to data on ecological footprints, human activity today consumes the equivalent of 1.5 planet Earths in terms of resources and ecosystem services. The reasons include an ever-increasing global population, our consumer society's desire to want and consume more and more, a widespread ignorance of the fundamental functioning of the biosphere, and so on. But these are not the only reasons.


Conserving Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan

A certain village in Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan, has been covered in the Japanese media fairly often; the story is that the villagers choose to live without electricity because not installing an electricity grid with overhead wires helps conserve Black-necked Cranes that migrate to the valley. A book about Bhutan records an interview: To the question, "Would you really prefer to have electricity, or is conserving more cranes important to you?" Villagers answered, "It's good to have electricity, but we can do without it. But cranes are different from electricity. We feel happy when they visit this valley. We've seen them every year since childhood."


Integrating Eastern and Western Wisdom Could Hold the Keys to a More Sustainable World

Japan is positioned almost as a bridge between the East and West. The conviction that Japan has something significant to offer toward creating a more sustainable and happy world was one of the reasons I started Japan for Sustainability (JFS) ten years ago.

Yoshifumi Taguchi is a scholar of the works of Lao Tzu and Chuang-Tzu, two of China's greatest philosophers. As director of the Research Institute for Integration of Eastern and Western Wisdom, he helps many managers and politicians develop their leadership skills using teachings based on classical Chinese texts. He gives many lectures and seminars to companies, central and local government offices, and educational institutions across Japan. In this article, I would like to share what I have learned from his teachings.


The 'Era of Turbulence' and Japan's Paths to the Future

Ahead of other countries in the world, Japan's population has begun to decline. It peaked at 127.84 million people in 2004, when the share of elderly people (aged 65 or over) in the total population was 19.6%. If this trend continues, the population is expected to drop to 115.22 million, with the elderly share of population at 31.8% in 2030, and 95.15 million with a 39.5% (share) in 2050. Japan is facing a rapid population decline and aging of society.


Creating Well-being Indicators of Japan, by Japan, for Japan

Movements to measure progress not only by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but also by well-being indicators have become active worldwide. As introduced in some of our previous newsletters, many local governments and communities across Japan have been developing their own indicators of well-being and prosperity. But, what's happening on the national level?


Resilience and the Steady-State Economy: Japan's Sustainability Lessons from the 2011 Disasters and a Declining Population

According to data on ecological footprints, human activity today is consuming the equivalent of 1.5 planet Earths. But we only have one Earth. Our generation is eating into the assets handed to us from past generations and already borrowing from future generations. We continue to consume more than what just one Earth can provide.


Shifting to a Sharing-Oriented Society

In the JFS Newsletter issue of June 2011, entitled "Message to Today's '3-De' Generation," we introduced three "De-" movements: De-Ownership, De-Materialization and De-Monetization.


"Sapporo Smile Index" - a Driving Force for Policy Implementation

Recently an increasing number of local governments in Japan have been developing new indexes, as we reported in the article "Creating Happier Communities: Over 22 Local Governments in Japan Preparing a 'Happiness Index' to Measure Progress" in JFS Newsletter No. 121 (September 2012). These local governments are trying to find creative ways to establish new indicators which measure not only the size and growth rate of the economy, but also the happiness of citizens, while highlighting policies that enhance and support happiness.


Creating Happier Communities: Over 22 Local Governments in Japan Preparing a "Happiness Index" to Measure Progress

Japan for Sustainability (JFS) has, in its newsletters and other webpages, covered the topics of economic growth and true happiness, key issues when considering sustainability, from the aspect of using indexes to move society forward. The JFS newsletter issues that covered such subjects include:


Re-Examining GDP Growth Projections to Plan Japan's Future Energy Policy

In response to the energy crisis caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011, discussions are underway to review Japan's Basic Energy Plan by the summer of 2012, as reported in the February 2012 JFS newsletter. I am working as a member of the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee under the national government's Advisory Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to discuss options for Japan's future energy mix to 2030.


A Lesson from the March 11 Quake and Tsunami: An Awareness of the Importance of 'Resilience' (Part 2) How to Increase Resilience in the Economy, Society, and Everyday Life?

In the previous issue, I introduced the concept of "resilience" as "the strength to bounce back after something unforeseen happens" or "flexible strength." In that article, I also pointed out that the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011 revealed that Japan's society and economy has lost its mid- to long-term resilience due to its pursuit of short-term economic efficiency as if this were the sole aim of society. Some of the keys to creating resilience are diversity and redundancy. In this issue, I'd like to raise three points that are important but often overlooked with respect to increasing the resilience of our society, economy and daily life.


A Lesson from the March 11 Quake and Tsunami: An Awareness of the Importance of 'Resilience'

The Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011, has taught us many lessons. Rather than try to restore Japan to the way it was before the quake, we now need to tackle the many social and economic issues that were revealed in its aftermath, with the aim of creating a real, sustainable society. I believe doing so will help comfort the souls of the victims.


Happiness Indexes - a Discussion

Concepts and initiatives on how to measure happiness -- the ultimate goal of society and the economy -- have been spreading worldwide as an attempt to offer an alternative to measuring the progress of society by the level of gross domestic product (GDP). One of the more well-known of these concepts is Gross National Happiness (GNH), which originated in Bhutan. Meanwhile, in France, an advisory board comprised mainly of Nobel laureates in the field of economics released a report in 2009, the Sarkozy Report, in response to a growing awareness of this issue. The report indicated that the actual state of the economic society cannot be sufficiently grasped with current economic indices represented by GDP.


Coexisting with Nature: Reflections after the Devastating 2011 Earthquake in Japan

On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit, causing devastation to the Tohoku District, and compounded by the massive tsunami and subsequent earthquakes. The death toll exceeded 15,000 and nearly 10,000 people are still missing. From April 29 through to May 10, I stayed in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the worst affected areas, to help out at a local office of JEN, an international nongovernmental organization (NGO) engaged in disaster relief (originally established as "Japan Emergency NGOs").


Musings on Resilience and an Ancient Japanese Festival

Musings on Resilience and an Ancient Japanese Festival

I often ponder how can we still thrive and live happily—as individuals, communities, organizations, and nations—in the midst of the approaching era of challenges facing humanity.
Key words in my life are “connect,” and “resilience” (though there is no exact translation in Japanese). The nearest equivalent for “resilience" in Japanese might be danryokusei (elasticity) and fukugenryoku (restorative ability), but I like to translate it into Japanese as shinayaka na tsuyosa (strength that is pliant or supple).

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