Remarkable Recovery: The Modern History of Japan’s Environment

Once upon a time, Japan was severely polluted, its air and rivers so badly contaminated that many animals and plants were in danger of vanishing from the country. In this series the environmental scholar Ishi Hiroyuki, who has researched environmental degradation in 130 countries around the world, visits some of the most profoundly affected areas in Japan to observe the damage—and the way they have bounced back from it.

The Return of the Crested IbisIshi Hiroyuki

Kin, Japan’s last crested ibis born in the wild, died in 2003. Her demise did not mean the extinction of the species, however, as researchers in China were successfully breeding other wild crested ibises that they had discovered earlier. This article explores the relationship between the Japanese people and the crested ibis, Nipponia nippon.
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Crane on the Rubbish Heap: The Challenges of Continuing ConservationIshi Hiroyuki

Hokkaidō now has the world’s largest population of red-crowned cranes, but this has also created a dilemma. While the birds are no longer endangered, they are proving a menace to farmers who complain that they are destroying their crops. Is there a way for the cranes and human beings to coexist?
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A Thousand Cranes Take FlightIshi Hiroyuki

The red-crowned crane has long been revered in Japan as an auspicious bird. Once the cranes could be found throughout the country, but overhunting in the early years of Japan’s modern era decimated their numbers until they disappeared altogether on the main island of Honshū. Fortunately, extensive conservation efforts have brought back the beloved bird from near extinction. Where at one point there were only 33 red-crowned cranes confirmed in Japan, there are now 1,800.
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The Recovery of the Short-Tailed Albatross: A Preservation Success StoryIshi Hiroyuki

Once believed to be extinct, the short-tailed albatross was rediscovered by meteorological observatory staff on the remote island of Torishima. The discovery set in motion extensive efforts to protect and preserve the species, led by a man who has dedicated his life to the project.
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The Short-Tailed Albatross: A Majestic Bird Driven to the Brink of ExtinctionIshi Hiroyuki

Its trusting nature and lack of agility on the ground has long made the albatross easy prey for humans. Whole colonies were once massacred for their soft down feathers, driving the species to near-extinction. The first of a set of articles on this bird looks at the early, disastrous history of its interaction with the Japanese.
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Prized Visitors or Pests? Learning to Live with Japan’s Wild GeeseIshi Hiroyuki

The number of white-fronted geese increased 33-fold in half a century, but farmers saw them as a pest. A pioneering initiative in their largest wintering ground, Izunuma in Miyagi Prefecture, is helping geese and people to live side by side.
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The Flight of the Wild GeeseIshi Hiroyuki

Wild geese were once a common sight throughout Japan, but overhunting since the late 1800s caused their numbers to decline drastically to just 5,000. Geese migrate to Japan from Siberia, and it was a letter from the Soviet Union that helped them in their time of crisis.
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Mount Fuji and the Sumida River: Japan’s Reviving EnvironmentIshi Hiroyuki

The author launched his career as a science journalist at a newspaper just when Japan was entering an era of heavy industrial pollution. His investigations of domestic pollution soon expanded to environmental research in 130 countries. After years of reporting on degradation around the world, the author has turned his attention back to Japan in this new series.
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