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Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World Paperback – November 1, 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Nature's Face Publications (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982900430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982900437
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,078,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Kindle Edition
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the eyes of the world were on Japan. In Mark Pendergrast's e-book, "Japan's Tipping Point," he makes the case for why attention should more broadly focus on the state of the island nation's overall environmental strategies. Japan is a tiny but developed country that imports all of its fossil fuels and has, at least until recently, merrily relied on nuclear power. Still, it has enjoyed a reputation for being a leader in environmentally innovative policies. (The much-hyped Eco-Model City program, for example.) But, as Pendergrast reveals, that reputation is at least partly smoke-and-mirrors. Its renewable energy initiatives lag behind Europe and North America and in some cases even China (an analogy that would be devestating to most Japanese). The story has no lack of strong characters, like Tetsunari Iida, the Ralph Nader of Japan's nuclear industry who heads the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and Naoto Kan, a former Prime Minister and born-again environmentalist who forced a reluctant government to introduce subsidies for wind, biomass, geothermal, solar hot water and micro-hydro development. In fact, Pendergrast believes Japan's main challenge lies in overcoming its own internal political & cultural shortcomings. Japan is important to us all, he writes, because it "is the proverbial canary in the coalmine. As an industrialized island nation, it is facing the same issues as the rest of the globe, only sooner and more urgently." A must-read for everyone interested in the daunting environmental issues facing the world.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Mark Pendergrast's personable, accessible account of post-Fukushima Japan offers an excellent overview of the country's past and current industrial dilemmas, and illuminates the speed bumps slowing down what should be a rapid restructure of its national approach to energy. It also underscores Japan's importance as the proverbial coal-mine canary for the rest of the world, with regard to energy use and energy policy. For these reasons alone, Japan's Tipping Point is an important and topical book for everyone wondering how modern society at large will cope with the urgent need to reduce our crippling reliance on nuclear power and fossil fuels. But it's also a great read: Pendergrast combines systematic, investigative journalism with candid, boots-on-the-ground travelogue in equal measures, to great effect.
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Pendergrast's new book, Japan at the Tipping Point, as a thoughtful and enjoyable blend of travelogue, scientific reporting, and astute observation of Japanese culture. The focus of this book is the need in the post-Fukushima era for strong leadership and clear decision making on the part of Japan's decision makers about not only the future development and regulation of the nuclear power industry in that country, but also the forward vision necessary to shape Japan's energy future. One of the most pressing issues for the Japanese is to decide what mix of technologies (solar, wind, geothermal, petroleum, and nuclear) will balance the energy needs of their island nation with the safety of her people, and what government policies should be put in place to shape a reliable energy grid that doesn't put people at risk from pollution and radiation. It is here that I fear that the Japanese will face their greatest difficulty.

No one in the technological and scientific worlds can fault the quality of Japanese engineering, which for the most part is second to none But the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was not purely the fault of its engineers. Pendergrast's book throws an embarrassing light on the decisions that were made by the plant's owners not to pay for and to put in place backup systems robust enough for the worst eventuality, and on the lax, conflicted and often contradictory muddle of government regulations that allowed the inevitable failure to occur. The Achilles' heel of Japanese culture has been summed up by the expression. "deru kugi wa, utareru", meaning, "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It has been several weeks since I've read Mark Pendergrast's book Tipping Point. I hope I can remember all of my thoughts while reading. This narrative spans a 6-week journey among major Japanese cities by the author in transit. He visits picturesque older habitats as well as harsher newer cities.
He emphasizes the several methods of energy conservation, generally underused, available to the Japanese. He also addresses the nuclear station meltdown following the tsunami several years ago.
This is a very worthwhile book. It is not a page-tuner. But a reporter's first-hand account ought not be. And it is an account of a nation with advanced technogies (some of which have gone wrong).
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Format: Kindle Edition
Japan is a very conservative country, which means that it is risk adverse, something overlooked by most observers. Mark Pendergrast looks under some of the foundation stones of Japan's energy policy and finds a lot of talking heads and little else. Strangely enough, for all of the country's love affair with the computer, rarely is the device used to do more than compile statistics. There is no coherent policy direction gleaned from the numbers. It's no surprise that Japan has won the Ig Nobel prize for the past five years. Hopefully for the Japanese, one quirky idea may save them yet, but it is unlikely to come from the government's ability to act, as Pendergrast has discovered.

--Judith Clancy, author of Exploring Kyoto
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