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【JWF News Vol.144】 Japanese Islands ~A Dry Summer~


【JWF News Vol.144】 Japanese Islands ~A Dry Summer~
September 21, 2016



・Foreword Japanese Islands ~A Dry Summer~

・Announcement from the Japan Water Forum
-Progress on JWF Fund 2016

・Report from the Japan Water Forum
-NoWNET Members' Meeting in Stockholm


・Foreword Japanese Islands ~A Dry Summer~
By Kotaro Takemura, Chair of Japan Water Forum


Extreme Weather Change in Japan

It has been an extraordinarily hot summer. The foreword for JWF News in September 2015 began with the same phrase. If this abnormal weather goes on, it will become normal in time.
In early August in Kyushu, we hosted water-related officials from Johor Bahru, Malaysia. They said "it was hotter in Japan than in Malaysia!!".
During the hot spell, the Tokyo metropolitan area suffered from a severe drought. The water shortage will be mitigated by seasonal rains by time the Autumnal equinox comes around. In addition, when typhoons sweep through the Japanese Islands, we need to be on the alert against flooding. The weather changes drastically from season to season in Japan.

The Struggle of the Japanese People to Cope with Seasonal Changes

When the typhoon season finishes, it is time for koromogae, when people put away their summer clothes and pull out their autumn and winter clothes. As most Japanese houses are small, there isn’t enough space to hang all our clothes in the closet. The biannual koromogae event allows us to change our seasonal clothes and store the unneeded ones in chests of drawers in our small rooms. It takes time, but is an unavoidable chore for the Japanese. We must steel ourselves for the task.
It is said that the Japanese people are hard-working. This is because we have to work hard in order to survive on our islands. We struggle to cope with drastic seasonal changes. Therefore, we have to be strict about time, walk at a brisk pace, and be diligent as long as we continue to live on this archipelago.

The Diligent Japanese

About 3,000 years ago, in the late Jomon period, people started to grow rice in Japan. In spring, they planted rice seedlings by making use of the melting snow. During the hot summer, they pulled weeds and strictly managed the water supply so as to be prepared for droughts. They had to harvest the rice before the autumn typhoon season. In the snowbound winter, they made farming tools and straw sandals at home, preparing for the rice planting in the coming spring.
The people of Japan, where the weather changes drastically from season to season, have historically struggled to cope with seasonal changes. They had to harvest the year’s rice when the sun was shining. Therefore, they had to keep pace with the extreme seasonal changes. If they lagged behind these changes, what awaited them was hunger and death. This was our ancestors’ way of living. The reason for Japanese diligence was not moral superiority; it was a life lived well-adjusted to the changing of the seasons. There was no other way of life than to be hard-working.

National Flags with the Sun, the Moon and Stars

When we look at national flags around the world, nearly 70 national flags have designs featuring heavenly bodies. Among these flags, 80 percent of them depict the moon and stars. Only 20 percent of them depict the sun like the national flag of Japan.
In the area between 35 and 45 degrees north latitude, the sunny period comprising about half the year is very important for people’s lives. The Japanese people used to worship the rising sun every morning, and were grateful to be able to work under the sun. For those living south of 30 degrees latitude, the sun shines all year round. People in these places don’t worship the sun. Those living near the equator or south of 20 degrees latitude, never think of worshiping the sun. Working busily under the sun as the Japanese do would be a risky and bad habit that could shorten their life-span.
For people living in the south, the moon and stars are the symbols of life and comfort shadow pictures and the dance drama called kechak originated in Indonesia. In the Arab world the tales of A Thousand and One Nights emerged. It is quite natural that the national flags of these countries have the designs of the moon and stars.
Seen from the perspectives of weather and topography, it is meaningless to say that people of a certain country are diligent, strict about time, and good. It is the weather and topography of the country that have determined the people’s way of life.

The Japanese Islands

Recently, a book written by Mr. Matsuo Sato entitled "To a Crumbling Japan~Words of Wisdom by Tsuneari Fukuda" was published by KAWADE SHOBO SHINSHA. Mr. Fukuda, a playwrite, literal and social critic and novelist, passed away in 1994 at the age of eighty-two. Unfortunately, I had no chance to meet him but he is the someone I respect and admire the most. Mr. Fukuda critisize severely to literary people, scholars, and the media. The criticisms were intense and conspicuous.  While he was active as a critic, I was working as a civil engineer at various dam construction sites. I read his books and his comment with respect. He was the greatest intellectual of the time and was a representative of the Japanese society. This new book is the collection of his speeches, comments, and articles. At the end of the book, one encounters his saying:

“There was no nation of Japan. There was only the Japanese Islands.”

I was thrilled at these words. They made me realize that he regarded Japan in a very basic way as an archipelago, though he himself had spent all his life.


・Announcement from the Japan Water Forum


Progress on JWF Fund 2016

The JWF Fund is managed through fees coming from corporate and individual members and donations. During the two-month application period, the JWF received 560 applications from 45 countries, submitted by those involved in activities aiming at solving problems of water, sanitation, and water-related disasters.
The JWF is now in the process of examining the applications, and the recipients will be chosen by early October. The results of the selection will be announced to all applicants by email and the selected projects will be posted on the JWF website.
We would like to express our gratitude to our corporate members,  individual members and individual donors for your support and cooperation. We hope for your continued interest in our activities.

(Reported by Sae Ishihara, Manager)


・Report from the Japan Water Forum


NoWNET Members' Meeting in Stockholm

The NoWNET, for which the JWF serves as secretariat, is a network consisting of country-level water partnerships in the developed countries for sharing knowledge and promoting good water management practices.
On 31 August 2016, member organizations of the NoWNET gathered in Stockholm, Sweden on the occasion of the World Water Week in Stockholm to discuss the opportunities and themes/topics of its concrete joint activity and how to put them into practice. Participants of the meeting have reached consensus that they will try to organize an event at the 2017 World Water Week in Stockholm next year and introduce each country water partnership's value and experiences in the context of a broad range of "innovation" which includes the aspect of governance and partnership as well as technology.

▼Please visit the following website for details▼

(Reported by Shigenori Asai, Deputy Director)


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JWF News Vol.144    September 21, 2016
Japan Water Forum

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