Current Institutional Affiliation
Journalist, Asahi Shimbun

Award Information

Abe Fellowship for Journalists 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Staff writer, GLOBE, Asahi Shimbun
Aquapolitics: Strategies of Japan and the U.S. for Water Security

It is said that the 21st century will be the century of water. With only 0.01% of the Earth's water is suitable for everyday use and the global population escalating rapidly, we are facing a severe shortage of one of life's most basic necessities. The crisis is giving birth to an enormous market for water, which is expected to grow beyond one trillion dollars by 2025. Nations are also starting to go beyond their own borders to secure the water resources necessary for agriculture. Japan is particularly vulnerable because its has a low rate of food self-sufficiency- just 39%- and is therefore heavily dependent on imports produced with foreign water resources. Conflicts sparked by water shortages elsewhere thus pose a direct threat to Japan's food supply and its national security. Unfortunately, easy access to safe, potable tap water has made the concept of "water security" a rather distant one for the Japanese public. To increase awareness of the issue, I have coined the term "aquapolitics," which is more easily understood by Japanese speakers than "hydropolitics". An equally pressing issue for Japan is its lax land ownership legislation, which enables foreign investors to buy up Japanese land. Some argue that these laws need to be tightened so that foreign companies or even governments do not appropriate the groundwater and rainfall contained in that land. If they were to do so, it would constitute "land grabbing," or buying up land to use it to the detriment of the host country. The United States has already circumvented land-grabbing with the Exson-Florio provision, which grants the President the authority to block foreign acquisitions that pose a potential threat to national security. I intend to focus on the United States' national security strategy, and particularly its stance on incidences of land-grabbing around the world, to find out how it plans to prevent domestic and international conflicts arising over land rights and water resources. I will then use these findings to suggest how Japanese legislation should be amended accordingly to ensure both national and global stability in the future.