Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 26 (April 9, 2010)
Yukio Hatoyama's "Yu-Ai" -- Message from the Prime Minister
Water is the source of all life. One sixth of Shiga Prefecture, which I visited last weekend, is taken up by Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwa. Lake Biwa supports the lives of 14 million people living in the Kinki region.
Japan faced pollution problems during the 1960s and the 1970s, which the government established various regulations to counter. In addition to these regulations, Shiga Prefecture advanced its own measures, such as establishing an ordinance on sewage standards that are stricter than the national standards.
At the Lake Biwa Museum which I visited, Governor Yukiko Kada of Shiga Prefecture, who was once a senior researcher of the museum, showed me an exhibition of a private residence from around the mid-1950s and explained how people dealt with water in their daily lives at that time.
Levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which cause eutrophication, are greatly affected by household sewage. Ahead of the entire country, Shiga Prefecture established an ordinance in 1979 prohibiting the sale and use of synthetic detergents containing phosphorus. The entire prefecture takes part in protecting the environment, as exemplified by a regulation that requires not only factories and businesses but individual households as well to install waste water treatment tanks.
I also met people from organizations involved in environmental protection in the region. People who utilize rapeseed oil for cooking at home and for school lunches and, furthermore, recycle used cooking oil into soap and alternative fuels to diesel oil. People who educate children on the protection of the water quality of Lake Biwa by having them experience catching fish by hand. People who conduct activities to prevent water pollution in order to bring back Japanese fireflies and basket clams to Lake Biwa. These are truly examples of resource recycling and environmental protection in the regions.
I heard opinions requesting an expansion of the individual household income support for rice producers currently provided by the government to include wheat, barley, and rapeseed as well as funding support to smooth the way for NPO activities, in order to advance such activities even further. The government is currently deliberating how the new public commons should be and I would like to advance considerations including the expansion of tax incentives for donations.
The environment-friendly cruise ship "megumi," on which I toured Lake Biwa later, uses a fuel which is a mix of used tempura oil with diesel oil and also incorporates solar panels and a wind power generator. This ship won the "Ship of the Year 2008" Award, a commendation presented to ships built in Japan.
The sparkling water surface can be seen right below the ship's cabin through its glass walls. Activities to improve water quality will still continue, and that is exactly why I could not help but think that it is important that all those involved must work together and keep making the utmost effort.
That day I also observed an integrated pre-school facility
combining a kindergarten and nursery school, and a plant
manufacturing solar panels that have high conversion efficiency,
among other places. It was a fruitful visit and I learned much from
Shiga Prefecture, which is advancing innovative activities in areas
in which Japan should work actively.
* Profile of the Prime Minister
- Press Conference by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and other topics (March 22 - 28, 2010)
- The Prime Minister Delivers Address to New Civil Servants
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