Environmental issues in China, Korea and Japan's relations

Wen, Bo

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Much of Northeast Asia is emerging from the years of political isolation and inaccessibility. But this region is now on the verge of an era of accelerated trade, development and integration into the world economy.

The environmental issue is an area, which has played more and more significant role in the relations of the three Northeast Asia countries. Decades of rapid, largely unregulated economic growth in Korea, Japan and China has come at a heavy price to the natural and human environment. The World Bank statistic shows that nine out of ten top polluted cities are in China. Air pollution in Beijing and Shanghai often is at levels considered unsafe by the World Health Organization. Air pollution in Seoul, Tokyo is also problematic because of auto emissions. Growing energy consumption in the region is likely to make air pollution worse in the future. Energy security concerns are behind strong government interest in nuclear energy in China, Korea and Japan.

The ecological stakes in China are particularly high. This moment in history is formtive fro government institutions, journalists, scientists and the nascent NGO movement that will decisively affect China's environment.

Korea has also been a victim for pollution. Korean government has estimated that at least 80 percent of pollutants in the Yellow Sea and the South Sea are from pollution carried into the seas by Korea’s four largest rivers.

Environmental sustainability in this region will also depend on Japan's adoption of sustainable policies for its own internal development and consumption as well as for its foreign trade, investment and aid activities. With a commitment of resources to a board programs of scientific and technical exchange, along with partnerships among NGOs, there is an opportunity to catalyze a shift to a more environmentally enlightened administration in Japan.

The importance of North Asian Environmental Cooperation is growing, and governmental interests and efforts in this region are very vivid. But the political and environmental gap between the countries of this region needs to be overcome to get the real fruit of cooperation. There also needs to have more cooperation between NGOs compared to other imperative to try to understand each other.

Chung, Chin-Seung
KDI School, Master of International Relations and Political Economy
Issue Date
KDI School
Thesis(Master) --KDI School:Master of International Relations and Political Economy,2000
China--Environmental policy.; Korea (South)--Environmental policy.; Japan--Environmental policy.
46 p.
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