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Industrial pollution is the dark side of technological and industrial progress. It is a serious threat to people’s life and health and causes damage to the environment. In Japan, environmental destruction is not a recent phenomenon, but was a prominent feature of the social landscape from the very beginning of the country’s modernization and industrialization period. The most representative case was the Ashio copper mine where the introduction of advanced technology caused extensive damage to the natural environment. The victim-farmers’ repeated protests against pollution laid the basis of a historically memorable movement.

The study group analyzed representative pollution cases taken from Japan’s experiences of environmental despoliation. At the same time, they paid special attention to the specific damages suffered by individual victims and tried to elucidate the social structures to which the pollution victims belonged.

In the analysis of pollution problems the members of this study group subscribe to the following views. (a) The destruction of an environment upon which human life depends is in reality a denial of the human rights of the weak by those who hold power within society. (b) It is essential that those who employ the methods of environmental science to solve pollution problems co-operate with and learn from the victims of environmental destruction. (c) Problems caused by the ravaging of the environment will not be solved if the need for pollution victims to participate in the problem-solving process is ignored. (d) The problems associated with the twin foci of workplace-induced occupational hazards and diseases and environmental destruction (outside factories) are in reality two sides of the same coin. (e) For environmental viability to be maintained, there must be a well-organized movement of pollution victims, as well as popular involvement in this movement; in addition, social conditions conducive to true democracy must be present. (f) Industrial corporations should take pollution-preventive measures as far as is possible. It is important that they realize that the costs of environmental protection are extremely small compared with the costs of compensation that polluters must pay when environmental damages occur. This suggests that the citizenry should be fully and meaningfully involved in development planning.