December 31, 2002



Keywords: Newsletter 

JFS Newsletter No.4 (December 2002)

Every December, a large event known as the "Eco Products Exhibition" is held in Tokyo, co-sponsored by the Japan Environmental Management Association for Industry and Nihon Keizai Shimbun (a major business newspaper). This year, the 4th Eco Products Exhibition was held from 5 to 7 December.

"Eco products" are those products and services that have less impact on the global environment than their alternatives. 370 companies and organizations set up their booths at this year's Eco Products Exhibition. Products were displayed from all sectors, ranging from household electric appliances, daily-use items, office equipment, automobiles and other consumer goods, to raw materials, housing-related goods, energy and other specialized products.

Because not only manufacturing sectors but also non-manufacturing sectors play an important role in environmental aspects of business, many non-manufacturing companies also joined the Exhibition. These included companies involved in packaging and containers, retail, distribution, logistics and transportation. Furthermore, new exhibitors participated in the Exhibition this year, including those involved in leasing and rental, recycling, education, consulting and other eco-services.

The Exhibition is not only a display of products and services, but also serves as forum for large procurers such as local governments and companies to meet and conduct business negotiations, and to find new business partners, leading to active expansion of "green markets" in Japan.

The Exhibition also aims to raise awareness of the general public and children by providing various seminars, symposium and events. Consumers' groups and individual consumers use this Exhibition as an opportunity for communication with producers.

It is usually quite difficult for environmental NGOs and colleges to secure booth space at such a large exhibitions, but the Eco Products Exhibition offers spaces for such grassroots groups. With the involvement and participation of a variety of stakeholders, the Exhibition is now a venue for discussion and information exchange to deepen understanding and collaboration.

In 1999, when Mr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker (author of "Factor 4") gave a keynote speech at the Eco Products Exhibition, he commented from his observations around the exhibition hall that it appeared Japanese companies' activities for the environment might be one step ahead of European companies, which themselves are earnestly tackling environmental issues.

The number of visitors to the Exhibition has been on a rise, this year exceeding 100,000 people over three days. The presence of many primary and junior high school children was noteworthy this year, partly due to the fact that a new type of class for "comprehensive" study and learning was added to the curriculum in Japan, starting the 2002 academic year (starts in April and ends in March).

These "classes for comprehensive study and learning" were introduced in order to foster children's ability to "survive" in an ever-changing society in the current world, by providing them opportunities to proactively learn, think and solve problems. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology cited "international understanding, information, environment, welfare, health and other cross-sectional/comprehensive issues" as suitable themes for such classes in the National Curriculum Standards.

With public awareness about the environment increasing in recent years, many primary and junior high schools are taking "environment" as a theme for their classes. In this sense, the Eco Products Exhibition is a wonderful venue to get hand-on experience in the field of environment. This year, approximately 1,400 pupils and students visited the Exhibition.

The Eco Products Exhibition is a showcase of eco products, eco services and environmental initiatives of various companies and sectors in Japan. Many people expect it to develop and expand in the future.

Here's the BBC story on this year's Eco Products Exhibition:

Indeed, the Eco Products Exhibitions in the past mainly targeted Japanese audience. True, there was an English page on the organizer's website, but almost all signs, leaflets, brochures and presentations were in Japanese.

We at Japan for Sustainability did not want to lose this precious opportunity to offer non-Japanese people in Japan the chance to see first-hand and learn about various environmental activities in Japan. So this year, JFS conducted English-enabled tours at the Exhibition, with a total of seven participants of various nationalities. One participant's report is provided at the end of this newsletter.

We also set up a JFS booth in the NGO section to let visitors know about our activities. We are planning to organize more English-enabled tours in the future, to visit companies who are vanguards in the environmental field, zero-emission factories, and the offices of leading local governments.

Such tours will be announced on our website, but if you contact us at info[at] replace [at] with @) to tell us you're interested we will also e-mail you invitations directly.

We hope to see you on future tours. Also, if you know people in Japan who might be interested in such an event, please forward this information to them.