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2012 Vol.1
Toward a Society Centering on Life


Since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, active discussions have been conducted on how to revive Japan. The movement for a shift away from nuclear power generation has gained momentum following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The shift probably requires fuel-fired power generation to be temporarily substituted, but the subsequent utilization of natural, renewable energy is being considered given the need to curb CO2 emissions. The author welcomes the movement as a researcher who has long studied life, human being, nature, and science and technology from the standpoint of life. It is, however, difficult to make a shift toward the utilization of natural, renewable energy without changes being made in value judgments that are based on today’s culture of financial capitalism and science and technology. Therefore, what is needed now is a shift toward value judgments based on life. As the sciences are generating life-centric worldviews, this shift would generate new technologies based on new sciences.
In this context, a historical lesson can be drawn from the time in the Meiji period when Western culture flowed into Japan. However, what should really be studied are ideas that did not belong to the mainstream at that time (e.g., those by Kenji Miyazawa and Kumagusu Minakata); those ideas were founded on cultures and ideologies rooted in nature in Japan and which indeed were connected with life-centric worldviews. With values based on such ideas, the country of today should be revived through utilizing knowledge on living things acquired through advanced sciences, generating technologies based on lessons learned from various organisms, creating industries, and invigorating the economy.
Food (agriculture and fishery), health (medical care), houses (forestry), knowledge (education), the environment, and energy are important factors in that process. These are suited to local production and local consumption. (Though important, specific industries are not discussed in this paper.) The realization of true affluence and happiness is now being sought, with priority on these factors and life-centric worldviews.