ELS 151 : Essay No.1

Task number 2: Technology has changed many people's lives. Discuss both positive and negative changes caused by technology in your own country.

The Technological Development in Japan and its Consequences

This paper discusses the positive and negative changes and consequences caused by the technological development in Japan, over a period of time. Firstly, the paper briefly explains the historical background of Japan in the modern era, as well as the economic and the industrial transition of Japan. Subsequently, the argument moves onto a lighter side of the changes in the Japanese society. Then it argues the negative side effects caused by the technological development. Lastly, the evaluation of the results caused by the technological changes in Japan concludes this paper.

Japan kept its isolation policy since the medieval era until American sent the delegation to Japan so called Blackship and demanded a trade and a diplomatic relationship with the Shogunate government in 1853 (http://www.hikyaku.com/dico/histxtg3.html). The Shogunate government was soon replaced by the new Western-styled government called the Meiji government (http://www.hikyaku.com/dico/histxtg3.html). This successful political transition led to a rapid Japanese industrialization and militarization, which effectively helped Japan to become one of the biggest military powers before World War II.

It is undeniable that wars contribute to technological development, as exemplified by the Cold War and the development of nuclear weapons. Although Japan was almost completely destroyed by the American air raids during World War II, Japan had immensely developed its technologies and the educational standard. They are thought to have massively contributed to the Japanese economic miracle in 1970s. As it is widely known, Japan has managed to form itself into one of the most technologically developed nations in the world. The Japanese economy nowadays strongly depends on the export of electric and electronic products and automated machines such as motor vehicles and industrial robotic machines.
As stated above, Japan without technology cannot be imagined. There are several positive outcomes of the technological development in present Japan. Initially, it is conspicuously noticed that technology enhances economic growth. Japan's GNP (Gross National Products) and GDP (Gross Domestic Products) have been increasing since the end of World War II. (www.statistics.com) This fact is strongly supported by the technological development since the major form of the Japanese industry is manufacturing. In addition to this, technology creates employment. Mitsubishi has 132 factories throughout the Japanese Isles and more than 10000 employment (www.mitsubishi.com). Most of major Japanese firms have their 'Keiretsu' system - which means affiliated companies - and create more jobs than are required, unlike the situation in any other major western countries. It is also significant to notice that the finest industrial technologies generated by the Japanese firms are not only the asset of companies but also national assets. Japan's technology is highly celebrated all over the world and it ultimately supplies wealth to Japan.

Secondly, convenience is another salient feature provided by technology. Japan seems to be materially saturated as anyone has easy access to the highly technological products such as TV, VCR, DVD players, air conditioners, motor vehicles and computers. People can be satisfied with their lives not only monetarily but also materially as well. In terms of convenience, technology greatly contributes to the field of social welfare. The disabled and the elderly are helped by different sorts of technology; e.g. automated wheelchairs, automated beds and artificial body parts. Additionally, automation in daily domestic chores also ought to be pointed out. Compared to what people used to do previously as daily chores, nowadays our tasks in daily lives seems to be subtle because of the automation of some of our housework such as automated washing machines, automated cooking jars and highly performed vacuum-cleaners. Computers also automate some of our tasks such as calculations and typewriting.
Thirdly, technology positively promotes the development in the medical, surgical, natural scientific fields. Especially, in the robotic field, Japan is no doubt the leading nation. Sony released its prominent self-learning entertaining robot called 'AIBO'( www.aibo.com ) in 1998. It is the world-first AI-like robotic merchandise. Honda announced that it invented a striking human-like manually operated walking robot called 'ASIMO'(http://www.honda.co.jp/ASIMO/) in 2000. The positive factor of this technology is that according to what Honda and Sony proclaimed, the technology is planned to be used for entertainment and social welfare but not military uses. The U.S. navy queried Honda whether this technology could be used for their military purposes, however Honda rejected this request. (www.yomiuri.co.jp)

On the contrary, there are, of course, negative side effects caused by the technological development in Japan. Firstly, pollution and environmental disruption are the most serious drawbacks, which chiefly originated from the technological development. For instance, air pollution of the major cities in Japan is blatantly severe. It is mainly caused by automotive exhaust fumes (http://www-aeros.nies.go.jp/) Also there is a fear of accidents at nuclear power plants. In 1999, there was a slight leak of radiation from the nuclear power plant in Tokai-mura, which is close to the national capital. (www.yomiuri.co.jp) Deforestation is also becoming a big problem in Japan although it is far slighter compared to that of African and south American nations.
Secondly, industrial factories require a huge labour force, hence they gather a large number of people in industrial districts, which are usually close by the major cities in Japan. This caused a seriously high population density in Japanese major cities. As a result, horrific traffic congestions and skyrocketing of land prices and living costs occurred. This outcome made city lives glaringly unpleasant.

Thirdly, high dependency on technological industry weakened domestic agricultural industry, as a consequence, increased imported agricultural products. Japan's food self-sufficiency rate is the lowest in G7 (the U.S., the U.K., France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Japan). (www.statistics.com) This could be a problem since the prices always fluctuate for they are inevitably dependent on the foreign exchange rate.
In conclusion, as discussed in the paper, Japan is certainly blessed with technology and makes the most of it in order to become prosperous both economically and materially. However, technology creates some crucial problems simultaneously. It is highly recommended for Japan to balance both the pros and cons of technological outcome in order to enrich the country as much as it possibly can.


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