For sustainable society


“Japan is in trouble!”: Students Urge Action on Climate Change

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23 was the speech given by a 16-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg. Then, on September 20, the “Global Climate March” was held in 185 countries and attended by 7.6 million people who sympathized with Greta’s incredible words and actions. The march captured the world’s attention.

In Japan, 5,000 people nationwide participated in the march, with 2,800 of them being in Shibuya, Tokyo. Their participation was led by a group of 10 university and high school students volunteering in the Tokyo metropolitan area, called Fridays For Future (FFF) Tokyo.

The ecoist interviewed two organizers of FFF Tokyo, Sayaka Miyazaki and Hiroki  Ota, who are both university students in Tokyo. In classes like Active Learning, Ms. Miyazaki learned about the non-profit organization “Toshima Children’s WAKUWAKU Network”, which runs a children’s cafeteria in Ikebukuro, and so she started volunteering in a children’s cafeteria run by the NPO. Through her volunteer work, she became interested in sustainable development goals (SDGs) and participated in a SDGs tour held in Sweden this spring. She was surprised by the difference in consciousness between Sweden and Japan. After returning to Japan, she went job-hunting using SDGs as a keyword, but she was angry that they were treated negatively with regard to environmental issues. She listened to Greta’s speech around that time and decided to join FFF Tokyo after being moved by her messages, such as “how can you deprive a child of his or her future while saying that you love the child” and “You do not give hope to your children.” On the other hand, Mr. Ota found Greta through an intern at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, found FFF Tokyo’s Facebook page, and joined the demonstration without hesitation.

Ms. Miyazaki says that FFF Tokyo’s activities were viewed as “naive thinking” and that there were few opportunities to understand FFF Tokyo’s activities. “I thought it would give me a negative impression,” said Mr. Ota, “but my family and friends took it more negatively than I expected.” Mr. Ota told me that he felt uneasy about his future activities and life.

While participating in the campaign, Ms. Miyazaki says that she felt firsthand how Japan has become an “underdeveloped country” and that she felt a strong sense of crisis, saying, “Japan is in trouble! The next 10 years will be even more irreparable.” She is now in the midst of a deep sense of crisis, and is wondering how she intends to live during the next 10 years. while compiling her sociology thesis based on her own experience, she says she learned that “you can’t get close to the essence of the problem unless you take on the experience you’ve had, as a small problem, instead of saying ’This is what climate change should do’ as a large subject.” On the other hand, Mr. Ota, who is currently in his third year at university, says that although he has some concerns, he wants to continue his activities at FFF Tokyo while job-hunting.

The ecoist editorial department believes that the environmental problems caused by climate change can be solved. However, in order to ensure clear solutions to the problem, young people and businesses alike must cause direct effects, and each and every human being on the earth must consider themselves as part of the solution. A sustainable society cannot be achieved if we only allow our generation to live safely. In an interview with a recent business magazine, the managers of major corporations all say that they are worried about Japan’s current situation and that they are talking with Japanese people who can show their true worth under such dire circumstances. This is a phase in which we recognize that environmental issues are not just related to human resources, and we take action to create a society where future generations can also live happily.

Photo:Fridays For Future(FFF)Tokyo