March 4, 1994

To the Editor:

I cannot remember when it began. I have been interested in Japanese culture for as long as I can remember. I love Japanese art, Japanese food, Japanese gardens, sumo and judo, the physical Japan, the plants and animals of Japan, and the Japanese people. Travelling and being in Japan are to me ceaseless pleasure and fascination.

I have been to Japan many times in the past ten years. Most recently, I spent a month in Nobeoka, in Miyazaki Prefecture. Lately, however, some of my pleasure has begun turning to pain. The true Japan -- the land and native plants and animals -- are gradually being destroyed by urban sprawl, road and highway construction, golf courses, resorts, and other development. If this "development" truly improved the quality of life, it might be somewhat defensible. But it seems only an attempt to create the kind of pleasure that nature (wilderness) provides for free!

Roads are built so that people can hurry to enjoy their goal; but at the same time, they destroy that very goal: the noise, pollution, and loss of farmland, wilderness, and wildlife they cause precludes the pleasure we seek! The same goes for golf courses, resorts, and other unnecessary developments.

I went to a bicycling club, in order to find some local environmentalists. But when I asked if they opposed the automobile and new highway construction, they responded "Why?" I said "Don't you love nature?" They replied "Oh, yes, we do!" "Well, cars and roads are the opposite of nature", I said. "Oh" was all they could say.

Most of the world is beginning to realize that the Age of the Automobile is over. We don't want any more roads, highways, parking lots, dams, golf courses, and resorts. We are fighting to save our remnant wildlife and wilderness. I hope that Japan will join us.


Michael J. Vandeman