Thursday, October 05, 2006

In Japan, City's Motto Is, "Just Don't Do It"

This Wall Street Journal article describes Morioka, Japan's "Slow Life" strategy:

"We don't make an effort in Iwate," (Gov. Hiroya) Masuda declared in a nationwide ad campaign that has run annually since 2001. Iwate should build traditional wooden houses rather than modern buildings, he said. Instead of striving like the big cities for economic growth, people should take pride in their forests.

From Slow Is Beautiful, pp. 44-45:

"The Japanese have a life expectancy of 80 years — three and a half years longer than in the U.S. In epidemiological terms, this is an enormous gap. If Americans stopped dying from heart disease tomorrow, life expectancy in the U.S. would jump only to levels the Japanese have already achieved."

Ironically, the Morioka campaign came in reaction to the "too fast" lifestyle of Tokyo. But the Japanese have gone from 23rd in longevity (among developed nations) in 1960 to No. 1 today, primarily because they have narrowed the gap between the rich and the rest of society.

Here in Seattle, we have a Mayor who is simultaneously promising to reduce greenhouse gases while promoting a huge, financially ruinous downtown tunnel and an expensive, unneeded, unwanted, unecological parking garage at the Woodland Park Zoo, in a cherished Olmsted Park. The mayor wants it both ways: More cars, reduced greenhouse gases. Call it his Miracle Diet plan: Eat anything you want and still lose weight!

Maybe we should adopt the Morioka Way in Seattle: Just Don't Do It!

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