Environmental Injustice and Social Interrelationship: Examples from Illegal Logging Issues of Tropical Timber

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:09
Oral Presentation
Kentaro KANAZAWA, Shinshu University, Japan
For the past few dozen years, Japan has been the world’s largest importer of tropical timber. The high quality tropical timber from Southeast Asia is used as cheap furniture material, or as disposable formwork panels for concrete structures. The destruction of Asia’s tropical rainforests is partially due to the lavishness of Japanese people, and as a result indigenous people face the tragic fate of being deprived of places to live and means to make a living. It has been pointed out that the dichotomous framework that characterize the relationship between victimizers and victims (between the strong and the weak). With the accuracy of satellite observation data increasing, logging and deforestation suspected of being illegal has come to be covered in the news. If people perceive a need for measures to address illegal logging, will environmental injustices begin to be corrected?

This study focuses on the tropical timber producing area of Malaysia’s state of Sarawak, and the consumption site of Japan by a “follow-the-thing-approach” to understand where the tropical timber comes from and where it goes. The data for this study is also based on the both participant observation and interviews. In the background to the various problems involved in illegal logging and timber trade becoming visible were the activities by NGOs. At the same time, we cannot overlook the actions over many years of the indigenous people who have continued to resist on the ground. In the EU, the United States, and Australia, laws to prevent the distribution of illegally logged timber are already enforced. Japan’s legal system has developed accordingly. However, a question mark still remains in its effectiveness. It is necessary to look into the victimizers/victims relationships and its mechanisms in illegal logging issues.