Ethics of natural disasters: Tanaka Shozo and the Ashio Mine poisoning

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Abstract

In this paper, I would like to discuss the ethical aspects of natural disasters, with special reference to the Ashio Mine Poisoning Case in modern Japan. With the repeated "man-made floods" and the unprincipled decisions of policy-making, the Ashio Mine case epitomizes the case of environmental disasters where men's ethics are directly questioned. In reviewing the Ashio case, we also examine Shozo Tanaka's career as a prototype of the environmental activist and his discourse of natural conservation. In the face of economic and imperialist discourses in the modernizing nation, Tanaka envisions the establishment of a democratic state where voices of the weak and the oppressed will be heard and where Western technology will be seamlessly harmonized with the traditional values of the common people. Tanaka, in dealing with the unprecedented disaster in modernizing Japan, spotlights the locus of environmentalism where men's codes of behaviors play a significant part.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalTamkang Review
Volume37
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

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