Respect For The Green Senior Citizens

us marines and japanese senior citizens beach cleanup okinawa photo

(Photo: US Marines of Camp Schwab and members of the Henoko Senior Citizens' club joined together to beautify a portion of the beach in Okinawa, Japan. Source: Japan Update)

Today we celebrate a public holiday here in Japan, known as "Respect for the Senior Citizens" (also marking the harvest full moon). Demographically speaking, Japan is an aging society, with an increasingly old population. Many of them are actively participating in different activities to save the environment, educating others about sustainable development, or - at least - shaking their heads at the mass-consumption and wastefulness of the younger ones.

According to research by Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA), many seniors are interested and involved in environmental issues, ranging from garbage disposal, maintenance of the natural environment to global environmental problems (e.g., global warming). Their efforts are mostly local and/or the range of their activities may be limited, but, having experienced poverty and pollution, a lot of today's seniors are apprehensive about the recent "culture of wasting."

JARC & JANCA started actively encouraging more senior citizens in Japan to tackle environmental problems. They note that JANCA members have brought the green back in the ruins of a fire after the World War II.

We also have the experiences in overcoming pollution due to the industrialization as well as in developing energy-saving technology. Above all, we have the Mottainai spirit that derives from Japanese life culture. As the first generation of the longevity society at a global level, we senior citizens strongly hope that the efforts in environmental protection would be spread worldwide in order to pass the sustainable global environment to the future generations.

"We face a big problem," says Shigeyoshi Yoshida, executive director of JANCA. "Over the next three or four years, 10 million people will retire."

Before the Toyako G8 Summit earlier this year in Hokkaido, these groups held a number of meetings all over Japan.

Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) is a network of NGOs which respond to senior citizens' desire to contribute to the society and to attain Ikigai (meaning of life, well-being) in Japan, where one in every 5 people is now aged 65 and over. JANCA also works toward a harmonious society between the old and young generations:

One of our focus is the global environmental problem, the urgent issue for all the human beings. With the slogan "We senior citizens are the guardians of global environment," we have been involved in various environmental protection activities, such as conducting an opinion survey on environmental problems, developing "Seniors' Action Plans to Tackle Environmental Problems" based on the survey results, and organizing an international symposium on environmental protection.

us marinesand japanese senior citizens beach cleanup okinawa photo

Respect, naturally, also to the US Marines who participated in that particular beach cleanup event shown in the photos.

Written by Martin Frid at

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