business has also been slow to accept its responsibilities and, in particular, to acknowledge that it will have to invest over $12 billion between 1994 and 1999 to meet minimum European Union environmental standards.
By the early 1970s, Japan probably had the world's most stringent regulatory regime for industrial pollution. Over the past 21 years, industrial pollution has been greatly reduced, but it has been largely replaced by city-based pollution from car emissions and waste processing. Per capita carbon dioxide emission for Japan is less than half that for the United States and, at 2.6 tons per year ranks on a par with Sweden, thanks in part to a total private-sector investment of $81 billion in pollution prevention and another $50 billion in environmental public and private funding from 1960 through 1992. The New Earth 21 program of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) includes the world's first commercial environment technology institute, where research ranges from the development of substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons to a project for biological carbon dioxide fixation and use. Many of the MITI-funded projects hope to commercialize their products within 10 to 15 years.
Although assuming technological leadership in areas as waste-management equipment, Japanese industry is resisting regulation. A carbon tax was strongly opposed by companies concerned about a loss of international competitiveness, and the media have criticized Honda, Nissan, and Toyota for lagging behind the Germans in reverse-assembly, recyclability, and cleaner-process research. Japanese automakers have resisted the environment agency's guidelines for reducing nitrogen dioxide and particle emission over the next few years, and they have also opposed a joint call by MITI and the transport ministry for an 8.5 percent boost in car mileage efficiency.
The public in Japan is not the driving force of change that it is in Northern Europe. Although environmental concerns exist, they tend to be found in specific population segments and, most importantly, they do not often translate into individual action and translate even less into political activism.
In keeping with disparities in public policies and industry initiatives, consumer trends in the Triad vary widely among and within regions. Information levels, priorities, purchase and postpurchase behavior, as well as willingness to pay do not show convergence, and all these factors have been affected by the economic difficulties of the early 1990s.