China has sent in 30 extra aeroplanes to bring its people home and France is doing likewise, but at this time when immigrants are fleeing Japan like proverbial rats, Committee of Melbourne "Disaster Management Expert," Andrew McLeod, recommends that Japan actively boost its population and economic growth by importing masses of 'skilled workers'. Reinsurers have been warning people for years that the impact of disasters rises in line with population numbers, density and complexity of infrastructure. Andrew McLeod, however, tries to turn this upside down. At the end of this article we present another view, "Sustainable Japan," from a writer living in Japan, inland about 20 km from Sendai.
China has sent in 30 extra aeroplanes to bring its people home and France is doing likewise, but at this time when immigrants are fleeing Japan like proverbial rats, Committee of Melbourne "Disaster Management Expert," Andrew McLeod, recommends that Japan actively boost its population and economic growth by importing masses of 'skilled workers'.
Population Numbers and natural disasters
Reinsurers have been warning people for years that the impact of disasters rises in line with population numbers, density and complexity of infrastructure. Andrew McLeod, however, tries to turn this upside down.
Listening to Andrew's interview on ABC News Breakfast, March 15th, 2011, you could be excused for thinking that Japan's relatively low birth-rate and slowly unbloating population were the cause of the earthquake and the Tsunamis. With the Japanese themselves fleeing Tokyo for fear of radiation, it seemed odd that Andrew didn't even mention the looming cloud of radiation dust as reactors explode and cores heat up and rods in dry cooling ponds start to fuse, but then, he's mixed up with the growth lobby in Australia, and they sure don't want to talk about anything embarassing to do with nuclear reactors. That's because nuclear reactors are all part of the growth lobby deal, which says, "We must have population growth" on the one hand and, "We have to have nuclear power because of all this population growth." Of course 'we' could simply allow our populations to decline, but then we might get by without nuclear power, and that would disappoint certain investors seeking to diversify their assets. See , and,
"The idea that nuclear capacity will double between 2011 and 2035 is now regarded as absurd. Even China has called a halt to its nuclear program to appease community concern about a reactor problem that may deliver radiation to China." Source: Chanticleer, "Fossil fuels ride the big wave back," Australian Financial Review, 18 March 2011, p.60.
[Of course Chanticleer doesn't mean that there will be more fossil fuel available; he means that the cost of fossil fuel will rise as we try to spread round what is left in the absence of some past and projected nuclear power plants and any other important new source of fuel. Not good news for the growth lobby.]
Walking and talking disaster
On Andrew's bio you will find that he describes himself as the recipient of awards associated with development projects in poor countries hit by disasters. Perhaps it is his natural modesty, but on ABC News Breakfast he didn't mention one of his greatest disasters - Melbourne. Melbourne is a disaster because of overpopulation, after receiving the same kind of treatment that Andrew is recommending for Japan - mass immigration. Indeed, who better to be CEO of the Committee for Melbourne than an ex-senior advisor on disaster management for the United Nations to manage Melbourne's growth-lobby-engineered disaster? Reading his bio further, you get the impression that Andrew is mixed up in the construction business somehow and that he may even be involved in international migration management, with his extreme focus on population growth and property development and from the kinds of 'boards' he is on, mostly of the identikit marketing corporate 'leadership' type. These boards include:
- The Committee for Melbourne
- The Conversation Interim Board (Committee of Melbourne)
- The UN Global Compact Cities Program Advisory Council,
- , which seems to be run by a marketing organisation, .
You may care to read the following Candobetter.net ABC interview transcript of the video and ask yourself why Andrew would be invited to address national radio on the subject of Japan's catastrophic situation.
Andrew McLeod on the Effects of Japan's Disasters,
The begins with Trioli observing that Japan "is a very different situation when it comes to a disaster of this kind, because it is a highly skilled, well-developed country, with an educated, sophisticated population, and also it's accustomed to dealing with earthquakes."
McLeod sees in this as a "different resilience equation." He says that there is "higher collective resilience in developed economies, but that their "individual resilience is much lower." "In the developing world people are used to not having food and water in regular supply every day, but in a developed economy, "when you take away those basic substances, electricity, water, food, individual resilience is really struggling."
[This last remark seems to suggest that people feel hunger and cold more in developed countries than people do in undeveloped countries. It doesn't make much sense, since people everywhere cannot do without basic daily necessities, such as food and water.
A better way of putting it could be that 'developing countries' (as opposed to complexly urbanised countries) have localised self-sufficient economies so that disaster in one area doesn't knock half the country out and people are often able to get what they need from the next village or relatives. In a 'developed country with complex infrastructure, hardly anyone produces food themselves and it isn't feasible to leave the city and look for food in the country, because the food is stored in depots and requires road transport; you wouldn't know where to look and transport costs a fortune, even if you can leave your job. That's if you still have a job, which is also not such a problem in 'undeveloped countries' with local self-sufficiency and a lesser reliance on money.]
Male Interviewer: "Based on what you've seen, how is the recovery effort unfolding in japan?"
McLeod indicates that the biggest problem he sees is the scale of clearing away the rubble in an "environmentally sensitive way".
Trioli agrees that that is "the real challenge."
McLeod, "What we did in Pakistan was to fill in a number of valleys and make them into cricket grounds." [The more one hears of Andrew the more one wonders what his definition of 'environment' and 'sensitive' is.]
Male Interveiwer: "How much of a problem is it that Japan's population is aging? The human resources to deal with this aren't as big as they were 20 or 30 years ago."
[How contrived can you get? They are going to make Japan's tsunami and earthquake into an opportunity to frighten Australians into accepting a completely bodgy association between small populations and judgement day-like disasters. How obvious can programming be on the ABC? Does big business simply send in the scripts and the journalists follow them these days?
So now the imaginary scene is set of a mass of confused geriatric Japanese trying to clean up the mess, when in fact most of the Japanese population is between the ages of 15 and 64. Not all of the 64 plus people would be useless. The emperor is praying and others will be offering more technical and practical assistance.]
Andrew McLeod says that Japan has a huge debt and that it is because it isn't growing its population.
McLeod: "Well, exactly. It puts paid to the ridiculous arguments of people like Kelvin Thomson in Australia about population capping."
[Kelvin Thomson has so nothing to do with this- Macleod has used a massive long hook to get him in.]
"What you've had in Japan is over the last two decades... they've moved from the world's largest creditor to the world's largest debtor and that's happened largely because their population is aging and their population is shrinking and they haven't filled that aging and shrinking with skilled migration...."
[It follows then that the Bangladesh, Africa and Haiti must be the world's largest creditors.
Andrew McLeod says that Japan has a huge debt and that it is because it isn't growing its population. However, "A new Monash University study finds population growth - mainly from overseas migration - had masked ''grim'' economic realities including the doubling of Victoria's international trade deficit to more than $35 billion. See, ]
McLeod continues: "That means that 20 years ago, Japan had plenty of money to look after themselves. Today there is a genuine question, "Will this disaster tip Japan over the economic edge or somehow will it restart domestic demand and get them going? It's a genuine discussion amongst the economists, but the one thing that's for sure is, if you have an aging and a shrinking population, your resilience to a shock will decrease."
[Andrew's case here is so well proven - not - in Haiti's response to the 2010 earthquake. So, according to his logic, should we expect Japan to do even less well than Haiti, because Japan doesn't have such a large proportion of its population under the age of 15? Time will tell.]
"Until I see a change in their population policy. If they were to have skilled migration gaps - and by the way - skilled migration at the global level is environmentally good because it encourages education in the developing world and that decreases global population growth, so at a global level it's a good thing, at a domestic level, it's a good thing. But the culture of Japan is not one that opens up permanent migration to other nationalities..."
[Hmm, what exactly, or even generally, is Andrew claiming here? He seems to be saying that the prospect of an opportunity to migrate to another country will tend to make families in developing countries have fewer children so that they can educate them to migrate. Here it is again - Andrew's fascination with international immigrant workers. It crops up in the oddest places. It would be simpler just to ban child labour; that's the tried and true method of reducing family size. (See ) It also means that adults do the jobs and get higher wages. Of course that makes it harder to run sweat shops.
But back to the wierd interview on the ABC:]
Trioli: "And then they have lower status in Japan when they are working there..."
McLeod: "(...) So you've got a continually aging population and continually shrinking population, so the question is, how do you increase your economic activity to make up for the disaster, when they have to continually increase economic efficiency and activity just to stay still, making up for the shrinking population?"
[For an alternative viewpoint to this flatlander 'economic' perspective, see this other economic one, Japan's Broken Window, which contradicts Andrew's GDP maximizing one.]
MCLeod on Immigration: Propaganda passes for news on ABC 24 and in The Age
McLeod has only one song to sing it seems, and, no matter what the topic is, he will talk up migration. And the content is threadbare. The reason for the constant airing of Mr McLeod's dreary demographic dirge is because there is money to be made by the corporate media out of overpopulation and international immigration. In fact, the Age is even a member of the Committee for Melbourne, so is, in effect, giving the megaphone to a business representative. Since state and federal governments are so close to big business and property development these days, it should not surprise (although it does so disappoint) to find similar spruiking on the ABC. If it were you or I talking down immigration, in the most fascinating way, we still would not get this kind of reporting. We might get a letter to the editor in once a year, but Andrew here, well he gets published again and again saying the same old thing. It isn't news. It's propaganda and it comes with the same monotonous repetition as the muezzin. Examples abound:
"Committee for Melbourne chief executive Andrew MacLeod forecasts that Melbourne's population is likely to double again over the next 50 years, to 8 million by 2060.
Mr MacLeod says governments must start planning now for a Melbourne of that size, and work out where the next 4 million residents should live.
He suggests Fishermans Bend, ''currently a giant car park'', should be transformed into ''a great new Docklands'' through higher density housing and business development."
"The chief executive of the Committee for Melbourne, [of which ] Andrew MacLeod, said last night that arguments about slow growth were ''incredibly dangerous'' because slow growth would not happen.
Mr MacLeod said Melbourne at 8 million in 2060 was not fast growth, ''it is normal growth''."
[Oh well, if he says so and The Age publishes it, then it must be true, mustn't it? We surely cannot have the temerity to require scientific and democratic justification for this wild and woolly assertion on which so much big money is riding.]
"The committee's report warns that a refusal to accept population growth will hurt Melbourne with poor urban planning, and notes many deficiencies in Melbourne's current planning. It says unfettered land supply ''as a primary driver of short-term housing affordability, is now being allowed to dominate the policy discussions''.
The report is critical of the movement of Melbourne's urban growth boundary, which was pushed out by another 43,600 hectares last week.
''The development industry has learnt that it is merely a waiting game of when, not if, the UGB [urban growth boundary] line will be redrawn and true to any democracy, its realignments have demonstrated the power of lobbying government,'' it says.
Moving Melbourne's boundary, it says, is ''like releasing a valve on the pressure to find an alternative approach ? the incentive for the development industry to take on the greater challenges of urban renewal in the established parts of the city''.
While supporting increased housing density in Melbourne, the report says there is no coherent government plan to achieve this goal."
Monash University [A big investor in student accommodation construction.]
"Community Campus Summit on International Students": "The second session focused on community engagement with international students. Mr Andrew Macleod, Chief Executive Officer, Committee for Melbourne led the discussion and spoke about the Committee and the Victorian Government?s work on studentcommunity engagement." ()
"Gillard's big talk more a case of shift in emphasis," Tim Colebatch, WA Today, June 28, 2010, : "But let's not lose sight of the real issue. As Committee for Melbourne chief executive officer Andrew MacLeod points out, Australia's population will keep growing. We need to plan for that, and build the infrastructure it will need. Cities far bigger than Melbourne work very well if they build a good metro system, and go up as well as out. Good infrastructure and good planning make big cities work."
[Using the word "good" when talking of planning and concluding that things will work is tautological. A good hair cut will make my hair look better, a well designed building will look better and be more functional, good transport system makes a city function better with respect to moving people from a to b and back again. What is it that MacLeod has said that is worth publishing?]
"Committee for Melbourne chief executive Andrew Macleod warned that if "no-growth" or "slow growth" proponents won the population debate, pollution and congestion would worsen in the cities because any impetus to plan for it would disappear.
Mr Macleod said the big cities had been able to handle growth until now, and would be able to do so into the future, provided governments hit the right policy buttons on infrastructure, housing and essential services.
He warned that deliberately slowing the international migration rate would damage Australia's reputation as a welcoming country and harm our economy.
"The fastest way to a more polluted, congested city is not to plan for growth. We won't have the infrastructure and roads in place and end up with cities like Manila," Mr Macleod said.
"When people are afraid we can't handle future population increases, are they afraid of the number of people coming in or of the necessary infrastructure -- water, transport etc -- not being built? These are very different issues.""
Andrew McLeod is also listed as providing the "background and policy" ideas for the ALP Members Forum on Asylum Seekers, Policy ideas and statements.
Woodcut by Hiroshige, "Suido-Bridge-and-Surugadai," (Edo period)
Other more informed views exist, however. Here is one based on Antony Boy's work, "How will Japan feed itself without fossil energy?" in The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2008, which examines the prospect of a much smaller and safer Japan.
Antony Boys has lived in Japan for over 20 years on a farm located about 20 km inland from Sendai and about 100km from the first reactor explosion. He is an agricultural expert and has written extensively about the history of Japan's economy before oil, looking at the kinds of problems that Japan will have feeding her population as oil dwindles. This analysis is also valuable when looking at survival during the aftermath of earthquake and tsunami, with a large part of Japan's capacity to provide power removed, in late winter, when snow is still falling.
Table IV.21.1. Japan’s Primary Energy Consumption 2005. Source: EDMC Handbook, 2007, Pp.19 and 26.
Antony writes "Whilst the world's dependence on oil for its primary energy consumption is about 39 percent, Japan's was 49.7 percent in 2005. Japan relies on Middle East oil-producing countries for around 89 percent of its oil and was the world's third largest oil consumer in 2005, after the USA and China, and the second largest importer. Domestic primary energy production is extremely low, being about 16 percent in 2005 if electricity from nuclear power is counted as domestic production, and about 4.5 percent if it is considered to be reliant on imports of uranium. Thus if the approximately 2.6 EJ of nuclear electricity production being counted as domestic production is counted as an energy import, the import dependency for energy supplies rises to around 95 percent."
Japan depends on nuclear for about 11.6% of its primary electricity, but a number of the country's nuclear power plants have been closed down due to collapse of infrastructure. With this collapse of power and transport infrastructure, Japan's large cities are vulnerable in a way that no pre-fossil-fuel society could be vulnerable.
In today's Japan, population is concentrated in the cities, where the great part of fossil-energy-based employment has taken place in the last 150 years. Most Japanese do not live where food is produced or where farms might be located in the future.
To import more people to Japan would require more energy and more fuel. Only someone with a fairy-tale concept of energy as something that appears when humans need it, would fail to understand that this vulnerable country would increase its risks by increasing its population. If you don't factor energy/fuel costs into work/production then your economics simply don't make sense.
Stable, Self-sufficient, Edo Japan - 1603-1867
Antony Boys found in Japan's recent Edo period, 1603-1867, a time of relative stability, a model for a a safe and steady long-term future without oil, coal or nuclear power.
"Whilst the Edo economy was almost entirely self-sufficient, today Japan imports 60 percent of its food calories and its population has quadrupled under these conditions which are, of course, associated with plentiful imports of coal, petroleum, natural gas, and uranium.
Historical statistics tell us that before imports of food began, traditional agriculture probably supported a fairly stable population of about 30 to 33 million on the Japanese archipelago from around 1720 to the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the Edo period ends. At that time there were roughly eight people per hectare, or an average of 0.125 ha of arable land per person in a clan-based peasant economy with some feudal features stemming from a military class but without widespread serfdom or slavery.
In Edo Japan, an average hectare inhabited by a family of 6-10 members would contain all or most elements for self-sufficiency.
Some examples of land-use arrangements at this population density have been preserved in old residences of a noble class. A “hanshu” or clan-lord granted such residences, called "yashiki" to the samurai warriors, or "bushi", in his retinue who were then expected to be self-supporting.
One such yashiki, a 6000 m2 igune, or land with a forested area, dating from 1774, can be seen in what is now Wakabayashi Ku in Sendai City (northeast Japan). Vegetable gardens occupy about half the total area, a house and other buildings take up another quarter and the remaining quarter is covered with trees. Rice, grown on fields nearby made each yashiki part of a self-sufficient community organised along clan-based lines.
In the 18th century, when rice yields were around 1.5 tonne/ha, a family of 10 required about 0.8 to 1 ha of paddy field for rice. An adult consumed an average of 1 koku of rice (roughly equivalent to 140 kg) annually, so one chôbu of paddy land (almost the equivalent of a hectare) would support ten adults. Local lords knew the potential population (and fighting force) of their territory simply by knowing the area of their paddy fields. Political and military power was measured in koku during the Edo Period.
169 trees surround the house in Sendai. Over half of them are kinds of cedar, cypress, persimmon, plum, and pine with additional yew, paulownia, chestnut, willow, citron, cherry, walnut, fig and others. Unusually for Japan, there is no bamboo, which is fast-growing and provides an extremely versatile material, but most of the uses which you could think of for trees are represented; food, house-building, furniture-making, tool-making, fuel for heating and cooking. Tree-leaves provide compost and trees act as wind and snow breaks. They also enhance the water-holding potential of the ground.
or Buy New $31.03
Far larger yashiki were created in the Santome district of what is now Tokorozawa City and Miyoshi Town in Saitama Prefecture (just north of Tokyo) in 1696, some of which are still in existence today. Each consists of about 4.85 ha in a block of land 72 m by 675 m. A road runs along one end of the block with the house, surrounded by trees, on about 0.6 ha. In the center of the block there are about 2.7 ha of upland fields. At the end away from the road and house is a wooded area (heichirin) of about 1.5 ha. This yashiki was designed with the difference that its samurai-farmers (gôshi) were expected to produce surpluses which could be traded for rice. Famed for its sweet potatoes (satsuma imo) the area was an important food producer in the Edo Period and during the food shortage following the end of the war in 1945.
Japanese culture has thus preserved in the yashiki the memory of what basic self-sufficiency is, what it looks like and how it is done, for Japanese people today, and yashikis are still written about in newspapers, magazines and books.
Few Japanese, however, would conceive that a "return" to a similar form of lifestyle might be necessary within the lifetimes of people alive today – by around 2050.
For a solution to be based on Edo-type land-use structure and social division of work, however, the current population to arable land ratio, 29 cap/ha, is far too high. The numbers would have to come down to around the 8 to 10 cap/ha (0.1 to 0.125 ha/cap) hypothesized above. Or perhaps the internationally sourced approximate 0.134 ha/cap (7.5 cap/ha) which now provides the Japanese population with food would be a realistic ideal to work towards locally.
The problem of feeding such a large population on so little land would be assisted by improvements in alternative agriculture, which have kept pace and possibly now exceed those of industrialized agriculture. At today's yields, the rice for a 10-member family would be grown on 0.25 ha (at a yield of 5 tonne/ha and an average consumption of 120 kg/cap/yr of rice), in contrast to 18th century rice yields of the Edo period, which were only about 1.5 tonne/ha.
Major factors needing to be adjusted to each other in order to tailor an Edo-type land-use solution would be population numbers, land-use availability, social division of work, consumption and technology." Source: Antony Boys, "How will Japan feed itself without fossil energy?" in The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2008.
At the moment Tony Boys is too busy looking for food and water to write. I last heard from him on 14th March 2011.