Washington International Law Journal


Lara Fowler


In post-industrial countries like Japan, modem environmental problems defy easy clean up solutions. Thus, effective clean up depends on diverse regulation. Historically, the Japanese government has relied on statutes that mandated technical "fixes" to clean up highly publicized pollution problems. Although such regulations have been successful in areas like air pollution, recent newspaper headlines highlight the extent to which environmental issues continue to affect densely populated Japan. Beginning with the passage of the Environmental Impact Assessment Law in 1997, however, Japan has significantly diversified its environmental policy. Along with strict new regulatory standards, new national laws now allow public access to information held by the government and private companies and foster public participation through nonprofit organizations and environmental impact assessment processes. By closely examining three issues of public concen-the disposal of waste, the control of dioxin, and the clean up of contaminated soils from industrial areas-this Comment suggests that Japan's more diverse, open and transparent regulation will better address current and future environmental problems. While it may not provide another "pollution miracle," Japan's shift from a reactive regulatory system with limited review to a more open and proactive regulatory system is a step in the right direction.

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