Economic development : environmental degradation or protection? : an analysis of the Japanese case
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The idea of material progress has been equated with man's free use of nature, or rather separation of man from nature. The evolution of the advanced industrialized societies involved a deep transformation in every respect of life. The development of its fundamental principles and attitudes produced, from the 18th century on, an increased range of human power over nature, which is turning environmental problems such as ozone depletion, global warming, tropical forest destruction, and air and water pollution, into life threatening issues not only for the world's species of flora and fauna but for humans as well. In the light of these developments, the traditional Western philosophy of man's exploitation of nature and its resources began to be questioned and revised. This trend was visible especially in the industrialized countries which were once the champions of the traditional view. Such revision of the traditional approach has started to show its reflections in the environment-related behavior of these countries. Whereas, in the initial stages of economic development, industrialized countries did not take environmental concerns into account, they have had to change their attitude and adopt a more environmental-concerned stance later as a result of domestic and/or international pressures. The Japanese case is illustrative of this trend. Although Japan was a latecomer into the world of industrialized countries. It caught up with its rivals in a short period and demonstrated the negative environmental side effects of the Western style of economic development associated with industrialization. However, recent policies in this country reflect a growing concern for global environmental protection.