JIN-442 -- Water Drops

J@pan Inc Newsletter

The 'JIN' Japan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 442 Wednesday November 28, 2007, Tokyo

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Water Drops

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Down in the ‘Beppu Delta’ - one of the most famous towns in
the world for natural ‘onsen’ hot springs - the issue of water
scarcity could be no further from everyone’s minds. As the
gutters steam from the abundant, onsen water flowing underneath
and almost every street is complete with its own public
bathhouse, one could get the impression that water is an
infinite resource.

So it’s with some irony that the first ever Asia-Pacific Water
Summit (APWF) is being held in Beppu City in just a few weeks
time.

The fact of the matter is that while the majority of people in
Japan have access to clean water, piped with the help of modern
technology, water is not as abundant in Japan as most people
think. In 2005, Japan was feeling the pinch as dams around Tokyo
began to fall, and while more regular typhoons may dump a load
into the dams during summer, weather is becoming increasingly
unpredictable, requiring more forethought on the issue of water
management.

But this is but a small drop in the painful ocean of water
scarcity that many nations in the Asia-Pacific region feel.
In Australia, for instance, there has been a drought so
long-term and so severe, that water restrictions are now a
necessary part of life. Just last week, one man was killed in
front of his suburban Sydney home just for watering his garden
with a hose.

It makes you wonder, if this can happen in a country that
still has clean water on tap, what is life like for the
estimated 700 million citizens of the region without clean
water, and if something is not done to improve water
management, what will life be like for everyone in the region?

The fact is that no country is unaffected by poor water
management, even those with an abundant supply. Japan, for
instance, has large production networks spread across the region
that are, to a large extent, dependent upon stable,
cost-effective supplies of water.

[Article continues below...]
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Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - Wednesday, December 5th

Panel Discussion Title: 'Boost Your Sales in 2008!'

Mr. Brian Nelson - President and CEO of ValueCommerce Japan
Mr. Dan Harris - Principal at Market Analytic Partners

This coming December, EA-Tokyo will be inviting two past
speakers and entrepreneurs who are also experts in B2B
sales. They will be sharing some of their experiences and
tips for selling in Japan and then opening up the floor to
questions.
If you are interested in boosting your sales in 2008 this
is an event you won't want to miss!

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Location: Shinsei Bank Head Office 20F
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com
Email: info@ea-tokyo.com
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[...continued]

Other manufacturers are even more vulnerable, such as food and
drinks producers, and a rise in the cost of water will have a
flow on effect to consumers. Back to that drought in Australia,
the very real reduction in successful crops this year has seen
the price of basic foodstuffs, such as bread, rise. If wheat
doesn’t require as much water to grow as rice, it doesn’t take
too much imagination to see what a devastating effect poor water
management could have on rice crops throughout Asia.

Most importantly, access to clean water is a basic human right,
and a fundamental part of the United Nations’ Millennium
Development Goals. The problem is, how do people access that
right when investment into the infrastructure needed to pipe the
water to the people is decreasing rapidly?

And so here lies the conundrum - and a heated point of debate.
For many developing nations, structural adjustment loans have
led to a rise in the privatization of water supplies, often
leading to a hefty increase in the price of water for the
average person. This can have an ironic repercussion for
development: as people fork out more of their income for water,
they have less for food and other goods, and so put less money
into their local economy.

The other side of this argument, of course, is that
privatization can, at least in theory, provide much needed
funding for infrastructure upgrading where the governments of
developing nations have no funds to complete public works
themselves. In turn, this upgrading helps to save massive
amounts of water being wasted much earlier on.

A debate like this is why the APWF is so badly needed. It will
bring together some of the regions most heavyweight
organizations, including the Asia Development Bank (ADB), the
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), The World
Conservation Union, and various umbrella organizations of the
United Nations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the UN, and UNESCO. In addition, leaders of the 49 countries
and regions in the Asia Pacific are also expected to
participate, and will create a forum for the much needed debate
over privatization of water and many other issues.

Chaired by Former Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, who is
also the President of the Japan Water Forum, the summit was
first proposed at the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico last year.
Its main goal is to contribute to sustainable water management
throughout the region in order to achieve the targets set out in
the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

By capitalizing on the region’s long history of dealing with
water as a fundamental part of human existence, the summit will
provide a common platform for bringing ideas and innovations to
the table. It will cover topics such as water financing,
managing water for development and ecosystems and water-related
disaster management. For a post-tsunami Asia this is
particularly important. According to the APWF, the Asia and
Pacific region has a disproportionately unfair 91% of the
world’s deaths due to natural disasters in the last century.

The results of the 1st APWF will be brought to the table at
other political events, such as the Tokyo International
Conference on Africa’s Development IV (TICAD IV) and the G8
Summit in 2008. This places some extra importance on the
outcomes of the summit, giving an important platform for
developing countries to have a say in not only how they develop,
but also how they can play a role in conservation within the
region.

The 1st Asia-Pacific Water Summit will be held at B-Con Plaza in
Beppu City over December 3 and 4, 2007.
For more information, go to:
http://www.apwf.org/project/index.html

By Willhemina Wahlin
Writer, J@pan Inc magazine

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