Japan is an HDI country. The overall picture in Figure 13 is that of a country which had basically
completed the agrarian to industrial transition at the beginning of the 1970s, and has entered a
tively stable state as a mature industrialized economy, based on manufacturing and services.
Japan’s DMC per capita decreased slowly over the period 1970 to 2008, at a time when the
corresponding values for the region, and the World overall, were increasing strongly (Figure 13 (a)).
As a result, it has gone from consuming around twice the World average and four times the regional
average, to being roughly average in both contexts. The main factor contributing to Japan’s reduction
of DMC has been an ongoing decline in consumption of construction minerals, while consumption
of metal ores and biomass has also declined slightly, while fossil fuels increased (Figure 13 (d). The
PTB panel shows that Japan is dependent on imports for virtually all of its metal ores and fossil fuels,
and for a significant proportion of its biomass DMC (Figure 13 (c)).
Japan’s MI has decreased by an average of 2.7% p.a. compounding since 1970. Remarkably, this
rate of improvement has actually accelerated, with MI decreasing at 3.7% p.a. from 2005 to 2008.
These ongoing improvements mean that Japan is now over 12 times more efficient at generating
GDP per unit DMC than the regional average, and 6.7 times more efficient than the ROW average.
The extent to which this is a result of ongoing Japanese policy initiatives to decrease waste and
raise efficiency, rather than an outcome of progressively off-shoring the most material and energy
intensive stages of production processes, remains an open question.
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