Why “Nature's Wisdom”?

Overcoming a dual challenge: Japan's experience

Looking back at the history of Japan, one can see that Japan has faced a dual challenge-in focusing on economic development while at the same time preserving its precious natural environment. In spite of the fact that Japan lacks vast open spaces and abundant mineral resources, it has achieved industrial development and prosperity without destroying its natural environment. This has been possible not only through the diligence of the Japanese people themselves, but also through the application of traditional wisdom, as well as by the research and development of technology. Our ancestors aimed to benefit from nature without harming it, and they developed ways of maintaining a mutually dependent and beneficial relationship with nature. In the course of this process, it was essential to acquire deep insight and knowledge of nature's characteristics, and to invent modalities for utilizing nature's bounty in a sustainable manner, while making a positive contribution to nature itself. This kind of exercise has long been a part of the Japanese culture and way of life. I addition, through exchange with other countries and regions, Japan has developed a vast storehouse of knowledge on nature and its utilization, in areas ranging from food and clothing to housing. These efforts were made not just to introduce foreign knowledge as it is, but to adapt the knowledge so it blended with the Japanese culture and natural environment; this consequently led to the development of a new lifestyle while maintaining the Japanese cultural identity.

Technology: the key to finding answers

In order to create a new interface between nature and life in the 21st century, the global community needs to invent a new way of life-one which is compatible with the remaining natural environment at the global level. This is why Japan has decided to host Expo 2005 with the main theme of “Nature's Wisdom”. Japan intends to make this exposition a laboratory for addressing global issues and to experiment with reestablishing the relationship between human beings and nature. Technology will play a crucial role in these efforts. Technology is a means of enhancing industrial development, and therefore is often considered as inherently eco-destructive. However, the history of Japan is evidence that this is not the truth. On the contrary, technology is the key to finding answers to global issues and identifying a new dimension in the development of humanity.

On one hand, technology is an indispensable medium for bringing the richness of nature into our lives. As just one example, consider new energy sources, such as solar and wind power, which can hardly be utilized in modern society without the aid of technology. The more technology advances, the more costs decrease. Theses benefits can be widely distributed.

Seen from another aspect, technology has enormous potential to minimize the possible negative effects on the environment brought about by improvements in living standards and global population growth. Furthermore there is also huge potential for it to contribute to the preservation of nature, by applying it to efforts to maintain biodiversity, and repair damage to the environment.

Culture: defining the future of technology

In this regard, establishment of more harmonious interaction between nature and human life may be feasible through technological progress. However, technology alone cannot solve the global issues we are facing. It is the will of the peoples of the world, and their ways of life, that determine the kinds of technology to be invested in and utilized, and in which ways. It should be kept in mind that our way of life is closely related to our customs, traditions, and culture. Introducing new technology often has a broad impact on our cultural life in various ways. In some cases it helps us create a new style of culture and enriches our cultural diversity. Other times, it may lead to the deterioration of old traditions and cultural values.

Therefore, not only do nature and technology need to go hand in hand, but technology and cultural life also need to coexist in a harmonious and creative way. It is obvious that the preservation of nature cannot be pursued country by country, as nature knows no borders.

It can only be promoted and achieved collectively, through efforts on a global scale. In fact, this is also true for culture, as no one culture has been or will be completely independent of other cultures: to a greater or lesser degree, every culture has been influenced by other cultures in its formation and development. This exchange and interaction between different cultures greatly contributes to the enrichment of cultures on a global level.

A new balance between nature, technology and culture

We expect this exposition will give impetus to the establishment of programs for the development of nature, technology, and culture as well as new and well-balanced relationships among them, with the goal of bettering our lives and our planet. This will be achieved through collecting and presenting both traditional and new aspects of “Nature's Wisdom” from each nation and its people.