The JSPSD program and experiences during the field trip associated with it has helped me to greatly understand sustainability policy and its large scope, and how to approach analysis of such policies. By visiting different cities, from Ogaki in Gifu prefecture to Kyoto to Hiroshima, I gradually learned more about the great contrast that can exist between cities in terms of history, culture, demographics, etc. and the thereby resulting consequences on the policy landscapes. Each city had its unique context, if approached through a triple-bottom-line, in terms of environment, societal elements, and economics. This is important to consider in creating policies for sustainable development in each context based on local stakeholders.
We commenced the trip with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This excursion was my first experience learning about Japan’s history in such a direct way, for instance with the presence of the A-bomb Dome showing real effects of the war. The park and museum on the grounds maintained a high focus on the importance of peace as a solemn message to the world. The main thing I noticed was how much history affects today’s policy’s, seen for instance in Hiroshima’s engagement in peace efforts, anti-nuke conferences, etc. worldwide. Hiroshima seems to have taken the happenings of the war and transformed them into tools to engage for promoting peace. Similarly, Ide (2016) discusses Hiroshima as a subject in peace education leveraging interpersonal aspects for an expanded approach to sustainability.
In addition, we visited Miyajima Island, where I also saw messages of peace. Miyajima is a very clear example of the importance placed upon maintaining art and culture, recognizing its value, and integrating nature and human creativity. These were also given as reasons for the selection of the shrine to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. In terms of sustainability, Miyajima can be a good example of the importance of maintaining art/artefacts as societal, cultural heritage. This is in line with what I understand is a main element of UNESCO, aiming to integrate cultural heritage with education and sustainable development, recognizing universal value of this heritage. Following Miyajima, we visited Teshima Island, which used to have a huge problem with industrial waste being dumped where used to be part of a national park. Today the island is clean and maintains an effective process of waste management, for instance utilizing the heat from waste incineration to produce electricity. The discussion with our lecturer from the island was interesting, as we learned many elements about Japan’s waste management history and policy, such as that the nation has among the highest if not the highest emission of dioxins worldwide, with 450,000 million tons each year which is incinerated in about 200,000 large incineration sites around the country. It is interesting to think of this in the perspective of Tokyo, with a huge, growing population producing waste.
Following a trip to Kyoto where Georgia Tech and Tokyo Tech students could explore and learn more about Japanese history and culture together, we visited Ogaki City in Gifu prefecture. We could learn a lot from the high school students we spoke with and received a city tour from, on the challenges and opportunities for their city’s development. A key challenge faced by the city is its aging population, and I learned from the students that mainly a lack of good universities but also inconvenience (e.g. a lack of public transportation), a lack of shopping opportunities, and a lack of entertainment are reasons for this population decline. I thought about the importance of taking a holistic view to policy-making, and considering the entire lifetimes of individuals, in creating socio-economic sustainability alongside environmental considerations.
 Ide, Kanako (2016). “Rethinking the Concept of Sustainability: Hiroshima as a subject of peace education”. Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 49, iss. 5, pp. 521-530
 UNESCO (2017). “World Heritage List – Itsukushima Shinto Shrine”. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/776> [Accessed 2017-06-11]
 UNESCO (2017). “Sustainable Development”. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/en/sustainabledevelopment/> [Accessed 2017-06-11]