Despite being a developed and prosperous country, Japan faces a host of basic challenges today and going forward—some of its own creation and others beyond the country’s control. For example, Japan lacks essential natural resources, while also facing overcrowding in cities and depopulation in rural areas. As a result, food and energy self-sufficiency is low. Also, while the dual phenomena of a low birthrate and an ageing population have long been deemed problematic, these issues are rapidly growing more serious. The problems Japan faces today are potentially the same problems the rest of the world will face in the near future. Japan, therefore, may serve as a bellwether for the global community as many nations anticipate similar challenges in the future.
On October 26, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings and the U.S.-Japan Research Institute co-hosted Hiroshi Komiyama, chairman of the Mitsubishi Research Institute and president emeritus of the University of Tokyo, for a discussion of his recent book, “Beyond the Limits to Growth: New Ideas for Sustainability from Japan.” In this book, Komiyama examines the issues facing Japan—and the world—presenting a number of potential viable solutions and offering insights into Japan’s experiences and the lessons it can provide for a more sustainable future.