ENVIRONMENTAL PERSPECTIVES IN JAPANESE FILM

Kevin Heis

January 7, 2008

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 2

ABSTRACT
This paper discusses how environmental perspectives are shown through Japanese film. Environmental perspectives include pollution, nuclear topics, humans and technology, and Shinto and environmentalism. Japanese films include Princess Mononoke, Dreams, Black Rain, Godzilla, Akira and many others.
21 pages, 9237 words, 7283 words without sources used or footnotes, with 65 sources.

CONTENTS
The Japanese Environment............................................................................................................................ 3 Films........................................................................................................................................................................ 5
Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (風の谷のナウシカ, 1984) Himatsuri (火祭り, 1985) Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ, 1986) Akira (アキラ, 1988) My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ, 1988) Black Rain (黒い雨, 1989) Dreams (夢, 1990) Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫, 1997) Blue Submarine No. 6 (青の6 号, 1998) Charisma (カリスマ, 1999) Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, 2001) 5 6 8 8 10 11 11 13 15 15 16

Conclusions....................................................................................................................................................... 17 Sources Used..................................................................................................................................................... 18

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 3 Challenges await those who make films with environmental themes. Critics can say the film’s message was patronizing, or too subtle; some will call environmentalism a cheap shot to create emotion. Also there are governments and corporations, including film distributors, who may not be happy to see environmental ‘wacko’ filmmakers criticize corporations in general for putting short-term economic interests ahead of long-term sustainability. Some on the political spectrum could accuse the production of the film of using a surplus of gasoline or other natural resources. Taking all of these criticisms into account however, many Japanese filmmakers find putting environmental themes into their films worth the risks. This paper, with the backdrop of some of Japan’s environmental concerns, will investigate the reason for why Japanese filmmakers pursue it.

THE JAPANESE ENVIRONMENT
I first want to discuss the state of the environment and environmental perspectives in Japan... before diving into the main course on Japanese film and other media. I am focusing on what environmental issues are presented in Japanese film and other media. I have come up with four categories for this: pollution, nuclear weapons, war, and energy, the role of technology and humans in the environment, and Shinto and environmentalism. Shinto is often referred to as an animist religion, where every animal, plant, and stone has a spirit or kami.1 From a chapter by Sonoda Minoru in the book Shinto in History: [Shinto fables] may serve as an example of how the people of antiquity, as they reclaimed paddy fields along water systems, regarded animals living in the wild as kami endowed with spirits and worshipped them.2 In terms of nuclear energy, according to Barrett’s 2005 Ecological Modernization and Japan, “Japan has 53 commercial nuclear power reactors and another two under construction. They generate 34.6 percent of Japan’s electric power.”3 This trend seems like it will continue in favor of more nuclear power according to a 2005 article written by W. Conard Holton that states that “rising concerns about the cost and security of energy supplies and global climate change” will lead to more nuclear power plants in the future.4 Most readers will be familiar with the fact World War II ended largely with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, and that the bombs claimed the lives of about two to three hundred thousand. So I would like to focus on the health and environmental impacts of the bombings, particularly radiation. The book Radiation and Health discusses these things: The people who survived the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been used in studying radiation-induced cancer. [...] In another more recent study on a group of 42,000 with an average dose of 300 mSv, 80 cases of leukemia and 260 other cancers were found, yielding a radio of 3.25 to 1.5 To compare the average dose of 300 mSv, the World Health Organization takes action when radiation exposure goes over 20 mSv; several times less the amount.
1 Bruun, Ole, and Arne Kalland. Asian Perceptions of Nature. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1995. pp 192-193. 2 Breen, John, and Mark Teeuwen, eds. Minoru, Sonoda. Shinto in History. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2000. 3 Barrett, Brendan F.D. Ecological Modernization and Japan. New York: Routledge, 2005. pp. 161. 4 Holton, W. Conard. Power Surge: Renewed Interest in Nuclear Energy. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 11. (Nov., 2005), pp. A742-A749. 5 Henriksen, Thormod, and H. David Maillie. Radiation & Health. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2003. pp 139-140.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 4 Given the backdrop of industrialization after World War II, Japan’s environment was exposed to massive amounts of pollution. Brendan F.D. Barrett writes in his book Ecological Modernization of Japan, “In the 1960s and 1970s, Japan was certainly notorious around the world for its pollution crisis with names of pollution related disease like Minamata and itai itai ingrained on the psyche of generations of Japanese.”6 Unfortunately, despite the pollution problems in Japanese industry, according to Broadbent’s Environmental Politics in Japan, the Japanese did not want to complain about pollution in the environment until “the media, public intellectuals and the government started to make it acceptable to complain, though, a wave of pent-up worry quickly burst forth as formal complaint, and then as overt protest.”7 This protest, caused by media and social acceptance of environmental protest, led the Japanese industry to take action to reduce pollution: “between 1970 and 1980 the Japanese steel industry cut air pollutant emissions by 30 to 80 per cent, producing steel with 40 per cent less energy expenditure than the United States.”8 Many authors suggest that while Japan has made great progress towards a pollution-free environment since the industrialization in the sixties and seventies, it still has a long way to go and the scene is far from perfect.9 Throughout my research, I found that scholars tend to describe the Japanese people as either fully respectful of nature or completely disowning of it. The reality is somewhere between. I found an example of this contradiction: Given the heighten media attention to the issue, it is hardly surprising to find that often there was a discrepancy between the image of environmental care which certain institutions sought to promote, on the one hand, and any actual steps taken to protect the environment, on the other. The Ministry of Construction, for example, displayed its devotion to nature by sponsoring the International Flower and Greenery Exposition in Osaka in 1990, at the same time as planning the construction of an airport on Ishigaki Island which would lead to the destruction of one of the last healthy coral reefs in Okinawa. […] ecology excels as a style, apparently detached from the problems that had given birth to the trend.10 So how exactly did it come to be that the Japanese went from being completely respectful of their environment to being somewhat… two-faced… about it? There is no way here to make grand generalizations about all of Japanese society, as there will always be counterexamples. An opinion of an author saying things about this contradiction, this time from Asian Perceptions of Nature is presented here: The Japanese have, like most other people, an ambivalent attitude toward nature, in which their love of nature is only one dimension. But they also fear nature. They have learnt to cope with natural disasters […] It is in this latter state [of a ‘tamed’ nature such as in the arts] that nature is loved by most Japanese. […] One important lesson we can learn from this is that there is

6 Barrett, Brendan F.D. Ecological Modernization and Japan. New York: Routledge, 2005. pp 12. 7 Broadbent, Jeffrey. Environmental Politics in Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. pp 109. 8 Barrett, Brendan F.D. Ecological Modernization and Japan. New York: Routledge, 2005. pp 130. 9 Kerr, Alex. Dogs and Demons. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. 10 Skov, Lise, and Brian Moeran. Women, Media and Consumption in Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1995. pp 170-171.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 5 hardly any direct relationship between Japanese sensitivity to nature and their environmental behavior.11 However, things are now likely not as dark for the role of Japanese people and technology in their environment, as economic interests have begun to translate into environmental interests: Japan is building a sustainable economy for the 21st century while every other nation on the planet builds non-sustainable economies based on the economic theories and conditions of the 1950s. And while Japan, like other developed countries, enjoys enormous imports of natural resources, particularly oil, efforts are being made to reduce these dependencies and it is obvious that if current population trends continue Japan's "ecological footprint" will decline.12 So now that I have introduced the state of the Japanese environmental perspectives, let’s move on to films.

FILMS
I would like to make it clear before I begin the discussion of specific films: most, if not all of these films, cover subjects and themes other than environmental perspectives. Some of these films are devoted heavily to environmental things; some only provide a few scenes or examples of it. In all cases, the importance of these films does not lie solely in their environmental perspectives. I am not suggesting these films were created simply and only for environmental reasons. Moving on. I may be criticized in my selection of films and other media, in that I am selecting mostly films that are mainstream, sold well, and are popular to outsiders of Japan just as much as they are in. I have a counter of this criticism, and that is the issue of influence. I do not see a point in writing about documentaries and other, non-mainstream, films that have not had the same level of cultural influence. I am very aware they exist. A lack of inclusion does not suggest a lack of environmental perspectives or importance. The films will be discussed in chronological order, since most of them contain several of the four areas presented in the first section about the Japanese environment. So with that, let’s begin.

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (風の谷のナウシカ, 1984)
One viewpoint that will be repeatedly visited is that Miyazaki’s films are influenced by environmentalism. This is logical, as reforms would have just begun in the early 1980s to change Japan’s pollution situation. In fact, a specific case of pollution was inspiration for Nausicaa: However, the one big event, in the director’s own words, that sparked his imagination and fuelled his desire to create Nausicaa was the pollution with mercury of Minamata Bay, as a result of which the fish stocks – left untouched as they would evidently be inedible – adjusted to the uncongenial environment by learning how to absorb poison and indefatigably continued to reproduce. The Minamata Bay fish are unquestionably the real-life correlatives
11 Bruun, Ole, and Arne Kalland. Asian Perceptions of Nature. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1995. pp 244-255. 12 Caldararo, Niccolo. The Concept of the Sustainable Economy and the Promise of Japan's Transformation. Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 76, No. 3. (Summer, 2003), pp. 463-478.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 6 for the immensely and ingeniously adaptable fictitious plants portrayed in Miyazaki’s film.13 Miyazaki is rather pessimistic about the state of the environment in Japan, and Miyazaki’s own words: “The Nature of Nausicaa’s world has absorbed the poison man created and is adapting to it and getting on with the business of living.”14 The book Atomic Bomb Cinema paints a picture of the world of Nausicaa: The story takes place one thousand years after industrial society has collapsed under the burden of a polluted ecosystem and constant wars wages with thermonuclear monsters that had set fire to the world. In the aftermath, a fukai, or poisonous sea of rotten vegetation, threatens to engulf the world and destroy all humanity.15 Clearly, we can place Nausicaa’s world as an extrapolation of our own, and perhaps we can look at some modern figures as we do the role of Nausicaa: “Nausicaa herself, conversely, is staunchly opposed to any plans geared towards the attainment of a tyrannical control of the environment, seeking instead to achieve an ever deeper understanding of nature.”16 Establishing Nausicaa as an environmental hero, one with some ‘vulnerability,’ sets up quite nicely for the dramatic ending with a clear message: “In the final scene of the film Nausicaa sacrifices herself only to be reborn as the possible savior of the world.”17 Cavallaro also examines the rebirth of Nausicaa in the ending, saying “nature rewards her efforts by means of the Ohmu themselves, by making the carapaced and multi-eyed creatures responsible for saving the princess and returning her to the people of the Valley.”18 So what does this story say about the environment? The story rewards Nausicaa for her environmental leadership, as Atomic Bomb Cinema states: “The film then ends with scenes of a world reborn: the fukai is no longer poisonous, the valley is more verdant than ever before, Naushika and Prince Asbel still play together, and the winds have returned.”19 If anything can be said about Nausicaa’s meaning, Cavallaro sums it up, saying “Man is oppressed by a nature gone mad by his own madness, but he doesn’t realize that this oppression is temporary.”20 Much, much more can be looked into for environmental issues presented in Nausicaa, but there other films to discuss.

Himatsuri (火祭り, 1985)
Himatsuri, or Fire Festival, is another Japanese film that strongly investigates environmental perspectives, this time from the Shinto angle listed above as well as pollution. The fact that these strongly environmental films are beginning to surface at this point in time can be easily traced to the social movements against pollution occurring simultaneously.

13 Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. pp 48. 14 Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. pp 48. 15 Shapiro, Jerome F. Atomic Bomb Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp 267. 16 Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. pp 48. 17 Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. pp 168. 18 Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. pp 50. 19 Shapiro, Jerome F. Atomic Bomb Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp 268. 20 Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. pp 50.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 7 A reviewer for the Boston Globe calls Himatsuri “a fiercely passionate lament for our self-exile from nature.”21 The film is: Inspired by an actual incident, set in a small, deceptively modern-looking coastal village in southwestern Japan. The region is the cradle of Shintoism, Japan's national religion, which involves notions of sacred times and spaces and the belief that the spirit of a god can manifest itself in trees, rocks, streamsand in fire, the element of purification.22 The main character, Tatsuo, is described in a review: But now on that very spot a marine park is in the works, much to the consternation of a husky lumberjack who innately and unthinkingly resists change while, ironically, scoffing at tradition-constantly breaking the ancient taboos that linger in the daily life of the fishing and logging community. He's a man in easy, joyous harmony with nature[...]23 Himatsuri is largely set out in nature, but juxtaposes modernity with the natural environment: “[the film] moves through some mild satire of the corruptions of civilization, the best of which is a scene with three kids dancinboom box, which provides a counterpoise to the scenes where nature stands daunting and unknowable.”24 Tatsuo is against the building of a park, and: In fact, Tatsuo is so doggedly opposed to the park that when it's sabotaged with thick black oil, suffocating the fish, fingers point at him. Almost offhandedly, the film builds toward the "himatsuri," or fire festival, a purging of the evil spirits that introduces, in this case, a shocker of a conclusion. [...] One of Mr. Yanagimachi's most powerful sequences shows this change in Tatsuo taking place very visibly as a violent storm causes him, quite literally, to embrace nature.25 So this transformation, purification of a man who learns to “embrace nature,” is curious. What does it all mean? Scott Nygren gives a look into this films meaning saying “Tatsuo is identified with ecological resistance to overdevelopment.”26 So we can look at Tatsuo as a source of inspiration, a figure who represents the environmental progress happening in Japan at the time. The film looks deeper at the issue, implying “industrial development, intimacy with nature, and the flow and breaking of desire are left to be mutually and multiply determining, rather than being fixed within a psychology or a sociology.”27 Another New York Times reviewer addresses the meaning of Himatsuri from an environmental context: Though centering on a lumberjack by the sea who defends his land against developers, ''Himatsuri'' is really about the gods that live in nature - their spiritual forces pervading these incredibly beautiful surroundings -and about those who serve the spirits purely or else betray them through the
21 Carr, Jay. Boston Globe. Boston: Mar. 14, 1986.  p. 3 22 Thomas, Kevin. Review: Himatsuri: A Born-Again Shintoist. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles: Nov 16, 1985.  p. 5  23 Thomas, Kevin. Review: Himatsuri: A Born-Again Shintoist. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles: Nov 16, 1985.  p. 5  24 Attanasio, Paul. ‘Himatsuri’. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Sep. 19, 1986. 25 Maslin, Janet.  Himatsuri, Problems of Change. New York Times. New York: Oct. 3, 1985.  p. C.24  26 Nygren, Scott. Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. pp 205. 27 Nygren, Scott. Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. pp 205-206.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 8 encroachments of civilization. The camera infuses the mountains and the waters with a personality that is both welcoming and a little frightening.28 Hopefully this film serves as a nice break into live action films, as the next four films are all animated. What is unique about this is how close in time all of this environmental films, particularly animated films, are being made. It makes sense from a historical standpoint. The next film is yet another from the master of environmentally friendly animated films: Miyazaki.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ, 1986)
It is difficult throughout this film to find environmental perspectives, up until the end where main characters actually find Laputa: Everyone races to get to the abandoned castle of Laputa, which has been overgrown with vines and plant life. Its only inhabitants are the animals and robots who protect a magical garden. As the different parties fight over who gets to control Laputa, it's up to Sheeta to use her ancient knowledge to save it from ultimate destruction.29 Laputa shows a strong image of environmentalism: a futuristic city that has been overrun by plants and small animals. In another article by the same reviewer as the last citation, James more fully describes Laputa itself: Drawn in a dazzling range of jeweled but subtle colors, the film is always a joy to watch. When Sheeta and Pazu reach Laputa, they find a deserted but magnificent place, with giant metallic robots, furry fish swimming in an azure underwater city, lush indoor gardens and an underground maze constructed of mysterious, inscribed black cubes. In ''Laputa,'' a space battle is apt to create smoke screens in delicate rainbow colors of blue, green and purple.30 It is clear that Laputa can be placed in the category of humans and technology in the environment. Reviewers are of course likely to stop short of disclosing what happens in the end of the story. But since this paper is far from just being a review of films, its safe to look into the ending of the film for more environmental perspectives. Muska, the ‘bad guy’ of the story, pursues the central power of the Laputa complex. In order to stop him from using Laputa’s power, the two children, Pazu and Sheeta, end up destroying Laputa instead. This is part of the dialogue towards the end of the film, right as they are about to destroy Laputa: Sheeta: Take root in the ground, live in harmony with the wind, and rejoice the birds in the coming of spring. No matter how many weapons you have, no matter how great your technology might be, the world cannot live without love.31 No comment required. Perhaps there is not as much to pursue from Laputa as there was in Nausicaa, but there is plenty of examples of environmental perspectives in the next film, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest Japanese films ever made.

Akira (アキラ, 1988)
Akira is a difficult and complicated film to summarize, and is better to watch than to try
28 Holland, Bernard.  New York Times. New York: Aug 30, 1987. 29 James, Caryn. Castle in the Sky: review. New York Times. New York: 1986 30 James, Caryn. Review: Animated Adventure Fantasy from Japan. New York Times. New York: Aug. 1989. p. C.18 31 Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 9 to fully explain. The film has been reinterpreted so many times that frankly, I had difficulty in selecting which interpretations to include. I’m not satisfied with any of the plots summaries I found in journal articles and reviews, so I will provide my own. Tetsuo becomes a lab rat for a government project in creating child weapons who can alter physical things with their minds. Kaneda searches for Tetsuo at this time. In the book Hibakusha Cinema, Freda Freiberg describes the environment in Akira: “Certainly the recurrent imagery of cascading rocks, fissures in the earth, fire and flood in the film Akira suggest the last-mentioned common experience of natural disaster as much as damage wrought by military bombardment.”32 Then, Tetsuo meets other children who are victims of the experimentation. They first present themselves in a playful way, by wrapping themselves in stuffed animals to form the shape of toy-like monsters: The "toys" are actually representatives, both literally and figuratively, of the mutant children, but their manifest narrative function is less terrifying than their subliminal one. To any older viewer, the attack of the cute toys beloved of young Japanese even, in the case of girls, into adolescence and beyond, suggests a potential arrogation of power by "children," by a generation very different from the one currently in control.33 Many authors and reviewers suggest that these toys turning into monsters is a reflection of current Japaense society, that this ‘cuteness’ often found in Japanese toys and media is really leading to Japan’s undoing. Between meeting the other child victims and feeling ‘inferior’ to Kaneda, Tetsuo pursues ultimate destruction and the child who wiped out Neo Tokyo 30 years prior, Akira. Akira’s destruction of Neo Tokyo, and a later scene with Tetsuo, certainly look like atomic bombings. Kaneda for the rest of the film is searching for ways to stop Tetsuo from destroying more than he already has. When Tetsuo finds the remains of Akira’s body hidden away, he goes on a rampage. Eventually, he uses his mind to collect scrap metal into his body, and turns into a colossal biomechanical monster. Tetsuo’s metamorphasis is one of the most famous scenes in Japanese film. The book Hibakusha Cinema describes this scene: When Tetsuo’s body expands and mutates into a horrific pulsating mammoth which is part animal, part vegetable, part metal, and which engulfs and threatens to strangle the life out of the only two people in the world that he loves, the unleashing of his ultimate power, nuclear energy, is frightening but cathartic—a release and a relief from all his torment and suffering.34 With Tetsuo nearly wiping out the entire city, the other child victims sacrifice themselves to end Tetsuo... or not? Akira ends with a beginning. Tetsuo ultimately mutates into a new being, perhaps even a new universe. Neo Tokyo is largely destroyed by the powers unleashed by Tetsuo, although some survivors, including Kei and Kaneda,

32 Broderick, Mick. Hibakusha Cinema. London And New York: Kegan Paul International, 1996. pp 96. 33 Napier, Susan J. Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira. Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Summer, 1993), pp. 345. 34 Broderick, Mick. Hibakusha Cinema. London And New York: Kegan Paul International, 1996. pp 100.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 10 remain. The film ends with the new entity that is Tetsuo intoning the threatening words "I am Tetsuo."35 Tetsuo releases nuclear power, dies and is reborn... is this a statement about Japan? That is a question that many, many reviewers and authors have asked. There is one thing that is very much connected with environmental perspectives when looking at Akira: destruction -- and Akira has plenty of it. Napier says: “Focusing on one of the film’s dominant themes, metamorphosis, Akira can be looked at on two levels; as a fresh expression of an alienated youth’s search for identity and as a cyberpunk mediation on apocalypse.”36 Napier compares Akira to previous films, noting: The other pattern is what might be labeled an ideological change in terms of both the presentation of disaster and in the attitudes inscribed within the films toward disaster, from a negative portrayal of disaster in Godzilla and Nippon chinbotsu, toward a virtual celebration of it in Akira.37 Further writing on destruction later in the article: Out of Akira's orgy of destruction arises a new world, but this too is not reassuring. The film's postmodern refusal of traditional narrative closure, combined with the insistent absence of traditional Japanese culture, brings us back to one of the central questions of this article: the role of history in modern Japanese society.38 Between the polluted post-apocalpytic world, the nuclear bombing-like explosions wiping out Neo Tokyo, the religious undertones throughout and strong at the ending, and vast amounts of destruction and chaos, it is fair to say that Akira falls into every category I mentioned at the beginning of this project. I would love to write more about Akira, but Susan Napier’s article and book dive more deeply into the film than I would ever be able to do, and seeing the film is more useful than any book or article. But, for environmental perspectives, there are other films to discuss still.

My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ, 1988)
The icon of Studio Ghilbi is Totoro. Totoro is a large, fluffy, and cute bear-like kami that drives the curiosity of two young girls who struggle with a mother facing serious illness. So what does Totoro represent? A beautifully written explanation of what Totoro represents from Keiko McDonald’s excellent, and refreshingly indepth, book Reading a Japanese Film: Totoro’s place in nature is affirmed by the umbrella Satsuki offers him. Rain is wetting him, like them, yet she has to show him how to take shelter under this human artifact. His response is telling, too. He gives the girls a packet of seeds. Thanks to Totoro’s magical powers, the girls are put in touch with a freewheeling fantasy mix of nature and divinity. They plant the seeds he gave them and then wait, as children will, impatiently. The camera hovers, offering a faithful record of their naïve anticipation and anxiety. Finally, the seeds sprout. The long wait yields a dramatic highlight as Totoro and tiny furry creatures appear, unfolding a musical spectacle rich in effects of sympathetic magic.
35 Napier, Susan J. Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira. Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Summer, 1993), pp. 339. 36 Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. pp 43. 37 Napier, Susan J. Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira. Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Summer, 1993), pp. 330. 38 Napier, Susan J. Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira. Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Summer, 1993), pp. 350.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 11 Seeds sprout all around in response to Totoro’s touch. Mei and Satsuki join in a dance shared by creatures and growing plants alike. The effect is that of a fertility dance, an easygoing, modern version of ancient ritual celebration of the ties that bind the farmer to his land. Also unmistakable is the suggestion that these little girls have achieved true oneness with nature’s immanent divinity. Lest there be any doubt about that point, the spectacle shifts from earth to sky. Totoro and the girls take off in a motion the camera shows as an effortless glide up the camphor tree to soar above its canopy.39 This example is likely under the category of humans and technology in the environment. So enough animated films for now, let’s look at some live action films.

Black Rain (黒い雨, 1989)
Black Rain is on the subject of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Black Rain is particularly useful to look at from an environmental perspective, as the film addresses how the bomb polluted, both physical and otherwise, Hiroshima: “in pedantic treatments of hibakusha, like Black Rain, the bomb is the obvious pollutant and cause of the distortion. But in less pretentious more pioneering films—in the sense of exploring the bomb’s meaning—the bomb is symptomatic, even the product, of a far greater distortion in the relationships between people, and with nature.”40 Black Rain, like Grave of the Fireflies, links environmental damage to food shortage, with “The food shortage was so severe that the rice ration had been lowered from four to three go.” 41 One unique feature of Black Rain that ties pollution, nuclear topics, and humans and tech in the environment together is economics: “Black Rain constituted an artistic link between the 1950s pacifist national identity based on atomic bomb victimhood and the 1960s economic nationalism.”42 Black Rain also links the bomb with a return to the “natural world”: just when the tide of history has carried Japan to defeat, is abruptly cut by present-day rice-planting, an obvious sign of postwar prosperity. Nature, in these images of water, eels, and agriculture, seems to have own; the constant ebb and flow of the natural world apparently triumphs over the explosive discontinuities of politics and history.43 So Black Rain, like other later films, links several aspects of environmental perspectives together. The next film is a classic from Akira Kurosawa.

Dreams (夢, 1990)
Dreams is a unique and colorful film with little spoken word about eight dreams. The dreams themselves hold only a small part of the meaning of the film; it is the juxtaposition of the dreams that ends up giving the film its complete meaning. The eight dreams are: 1. Sunshine through the Rain - a boy observing foxes
39 McDonald, Keiko I. Reading a Japanese Film. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006. pp 183. 40 Shapiro, Jerome F. Atomic Bomb Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp 271. 41 Orr, James J. The Victim as Hero. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001. pp 130. 42 Orr, James J. The Victim as Hero. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001. pp 135. 43 Washburn, Dennis, and Carole Cavanaugh, eds. Word and Image in Japanese Cinema. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. pp 259.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 12 2. The Peach Orchard - a peach orchard that was chopped down 3. The Blizzard - a group of mountaineers traveling up a mountain 4. The Tunnel - an army officer who sees his fallen soldiers 5. Crows - the work of Vincent Van Gogh 6. Mount Fuji in Red - a nuclear plant melting down and killing all of Japan 7. The Weeping Demon - the surviving mutants of a nuclear tragedy 8. Village of the Watermills - a visitor travels to a very old style village, ending with a happy funeral So looking at the eight dreams, it is very obvious that Mount Fuji in Red and the Weeping Demon are well in the category of nuclear topics. In reality, every single one of these dreams is somehow connected to the environment. Kurosawa even encountered some environmental difficulties while attempting to shoot the dream Crows: The cities and countryside are so changed that it is difficult to produce a film with a beautiful backdrop, which Kurosawa complained about in his last days. When he directed the van Gogh episode in his Dreams, he had to scour the entire country to find a site with no modern buildings or electric pylons where he could reproduce a French cornfield.44 The first five themes all connect Shinto to the environment, the first two the most obvious connection between the two: In the first three episodes, we encounter some elements of animism: foxes that serve as the assistants of kami (a god or goddess), live dolls and spirits of peach trees, and a Snow Woman who is the incarnation of snow. According to animism, the universe and all things have spirits, . . . and nature is sacred and worshipped. But ghosts and spirits of ancestors too are part of nature and of animism, and therefore it is not surprising that in the fourth episode the ghost of a dead person appears in the dream. . . . Thus, the first half of the film presents four variations of the spiritual rapport between humans and the natural world. At the beginning, this rapport can be seen as a paradise, but sometimes nature's reaction to human beings can be different from the gentleness of a mother. According to Sate, the fifth episode, "Crows," serves as a transition between the two parts. He enters Van Gogh's paintings, where he encounters Van Gogh himself. Sato perceives Kurosawa as expressing here his lament and discomfort that adults are incapable of entering the animist world.45 Serper’s article does much more to link Shinto and environmentalism in Dreams. The last three dreams however are of great interest to the subject of this project, connecting Shinto, nuclear topics, pollution, and humans and technology in the environment all at the same time: In the Mount Fuji in Red sequence, Japan’s scandalously incompetent nuclear power industry causes a catastrophic meltdown, and throngs of panicky Japanese—ubiquitous in kaiju eiga—leap to their deaths like lemmings […] And the Weeping Demon sequence, global nuclear war strips away the human façade of Japan’s corrupt ministerial industrial complex and reveals its denizens to be the demons they are. [....] In the final sequence or coda, “Village of the
44 Kerr, Alex. Dogs and Demons. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. pp 330. 45 Serper, Zvika. Kurosawa's "Dreams": A Cinematic Reflection of a Traditional Japanese Context. Cinema Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4. (Summer, 2001), pp. 82.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 13 Watermills,” a hiker wanders into an anachronistic village. There, an old man, the Luddite voice of the film and presumably the director, lectures the hiker on the evils of technology and losing the old ways. [...] This what makes Yume so disturbing is that it first shocks the audience with images of how science and technology create massive destruction, then reassures the audience that somewhere there is furusato, or native place, where the wellspring of Japaneseness continues to flow free and pure.46 Serper also provides analysis of the second half of the film: The second half of the film constitutes a clear protest against the destruction of nature: the meltdown of Mt. Fuji follows the explosion of a nuclear power plant, a meeting occurs with a human being who became a demon after the explosion, and a meeting takes place with an old man who talks about the destruction of nature and the possible harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.47 I highly recommend, to those interested in more about this very unique film, to read Serper’s very indepth article in Cinema Journal. This film is one of the greatest examples of environmental perspectives in Japanese film.

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫, 1997)
Princess Mononoke, along with Spirited Away, is considered to be one of Miyazaki’s greatest achievements. Although a seemingly simple film, it is actually quite complicated. Mononoke heavily focuses on the role of humans and technology in the environment. The book A Century of Popular Culture in Japan has a very indepth view of the film Princess Mononoke, written by Melek Ortabasi, to which I will be referring extensively in this section. The chapter discusses many more issues than environmental ones, but this project, of course, has its focus. The film’s conflict is the rivalry between Eboshi and San, with Ashitaka, who represents the viewer of the film, is stuck between aiding humans (Eboshi) or aiding nature (San): All three of the main characters demonstrate a crisis in representation. Ashitaka becomes unwillingly involved in the conflict, which is initiated by Eboshi. Her goal is the killing of the forest gods, whom she sees as obstructing human progress. Her efforts are resisted by San, the savage princess of the film’s title, and some of the gods themselves.48 Particularly of interest is the way in which Miyazaki portrays nature as a spiritual, beautiful being, its icon being the shishigami, the greatest god of the forest. The sacred forest in Mononoke is stunning in its visual depth and beauty. The realist quality of the mossy rocks and gently reflective water powerfully convey the forest’s vitality. Though the forest is neither sentient nor affective in itself, it looks more alive than the animated characters that move within its palpably green and moist space. Rather than being the theme of the film, the forest is more like its protagonist: no simple backdrop should take so much attention away from the story. Before the forest’s horrific spiritual death, its awe-inspiring,
46 Shapiro, Jerome F. Atomic Bomb Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp 293. 47 Serper, Zvika. Kurosawa's "Dreams": A Cinematic Reflection of a Traditional Japanese Context. Cinema Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4. (Summer, 2001), pp. 82. 48 Slaymaker, Douglas, ed. A Century of Popular Culture in Japan. Lewiston, Queenston, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen, 2000. pp 209.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 14 breathing presence strongly suggests the symbolic immanetism said the be the foundation of native Japanese religion.49 So why did Miyazaki represent nature in this way? Susan Napier gives the reason: Miyazaki believes that these vanished forests still exert a spiritual pull on the average urban dweller, and it was this that he attempted to dramatize in his creation of the forest of the shishigami. [...] Miyazaki’s super-naturalization of the natural is a deliberate de-familiarization strategy offering an alternative vision to the conventional Japanese view of nature, which, while acknowledging the wildness of nature, prefers to view it as something that can be tamed and cultivated. In the film nature is beautiful, sacred, and awesome, but it is also vengeful and brutally frightening.50 Other authors have also suggested this idea that the Japanese tend to view nature as only beautiful in a context that it can be ‘tamed,’ as I wrote in the beginning of this project, so it is fascinating to see that this exact idea is being countered in a film, an icon of culture. Much happens throughout the plot, a war erupts between the humans and the gods, plenty of people, animals, and gods die, and Ashitaka is witness to it all. I would love to write about every single little detail of this film and how it relates to the environment, but I have many other films yet to cover, so I’ll skip to the ending of the film: In the film’s apocalyptic climax, Eboshi, along with samurai and priests from the court, battles against all the creatures of the forest and succeeds in cutting off the head of the shishigami. This action sets off the destruction of the entire forest, shown through images of the earth turning brown and cracking open and the forest spirits dying, while the immense shishigami, barely alive, searches helplessly for its head. Eboshi has promised the head to representatives from the Yamato court, who intend to take it back to the emperor, but in the film’s climactic scene, San and Ashitaka unite to seize the head and return it to the shishigami. The film ends with the apparent restoration of nature and harmony as the world turns green again, but the ambiguous currents remain beneath the surface.51 So what does all of this represent? Susan Napier looks at it from the perspective taken by most western film reviewers: “It is a wake-up call to human beings in a time of environmental and spiritual crisis that attempts to provoke its audience into realizing how much they have already lost and how much more they stand to lose.”52 The film represents the past, in the form of nature, struggling against change, in the form of industrialization; the ultimate statement is that nature will dominate and destroy those who work to change against it, but rewards those who can both change and adapt. Additionally, Ashitaka is the viewer of the film, San is Miyazaki, and Eboshi is modern society. I say this from some of the interviews that Miyazaki has given. The following is his own words: I want to see the sea rise over Tokyo and the NTV tower become an island. I'd like to see Manhattan underwater. I'd like to see when the human population
49 Slaymaker, Douglas, ed. A Century of Popular Culture in Japan. Lewiston, Queenston, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen, 2000. pp 213. 50 Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. pp 242, 244. 51 Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. pp 236. 52 Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. pp 236.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 15 plummets and there are no more high-rises, because nobody's buying them. I'm excited about that. Money and desire--all that is going to collapse, and wild green grasses are going to take over.53 Anyone that would argue that Shinto has no influence in modern Japanese society can look to Princess Mononoke: Miyazaki must have known very well that the images of gods of the forest would conjure up in the Japanese mind at least some desire to return to these, respectful of nature, roots.

Blue Submarine No. 6 (青の6 号, 1998)
The story of Blue Sub is, like more recent Japanese animated film, a seemingly simple story that is really quite complicated. Set in the close future, the oceans have risen to a level causing the cities to be flooded, and the survivors are traveling on boats and submarines. The flooding has been blamed on a scientist, Zorndyke, and his creations of mixed species. Humanity is in a war with Zorndyke’s creations, and nuclear weapons are coming into discussion. The film focuses on a particular soldier and the submarine he drives. The plot is filled with action... and those interested can watch the film to find out what happens in the middle. The soldier, Hayami, finds out Zorndyke’s true plan: to have humans nuke his creations, thus changing the magnetism of the planet, would turn the planet’s rotation and kill all humans, who are causing the planet to lose all of its other species. After a confrontation, Zorndyke commits suicide or otherwise dies, and this ends the war between humans and Zorndyke’s creations. This film has very clear examples of humans and technology in the environment, as well as the negatives of the use of nuclear weapons. Particularly of interest is the manner in which the film portrays extreme environmentalists as being a hindrance to fixing the true source of the environment’s problems: the attitude of the human race towards the environment. The next film, after this series of animated films, is a live action film.

Charisma (カリスマ, 1999)
I actually found a review of the film, Charisma, that is useful for the look of environmental perspectives. I would have had more to say on this project, but the reviewer provides a better analysis of the environmental perspectives better than I can: Charisma is a highly allegorical, complex piece of cinema. The film seems to want to explore the nature of individuality by using the tree as a metaphor of the individual in modern society. The other characters represent the competing views on the possible deterioration of society due to the rise in the exercise of individual rights. Kurosawa [not Akira Kurosawa] is implicitly intent in showing that the concept of Western individualism can only exist in conflict with the more Eastern concept of duty, a core belief in historical Japan. The director was initially drawn to the subject matter by the politics of environmentalists, but his addition of human drama has created a hybrid genre piece: part horror movie, part detective story, part cautionary tale. This mixture is extremely effective when the characters' motivations are justified by what they repeatedly say is "natural." The characters can be seen as part of a human ecosystem; they
53 http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/hayao_miyazaki.shtml

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 16 compete and cooperate with each other for survival. Everything they do affects the others around them, but they fail to understand this or even the implications of their actions. The film's final shot emphasizes an environmentalist belief that everything is symbiotically linked, both the forest and the human ecosystem. Nothing exists in isolation.54

Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, 2001)
Yet another Miyazaki film for this project? Of course. Miyazaki’s most recent work, Howl’s Moving Castle, is not particularly strong for environmental stuff. Spirited Away, considered to be tied with Princess Mononoke as Miyazaki’s greatest work, is not as oriented to the environment as much as it is about childhood and growing up. I am not, unlike some of the other films, going to summarize the plot at all, but there is a character in Spirited Away who vividly demonstrates Miyazaki’s environmentalism: Okutaresama is the one with the most urgent message. He is the spirit of the river, and his body has absorbed the junk, waste and sludge that has been thrown into it over the years.55 Miyazaki, in an interview, gives the inspiration of Okutaresama’s story: There is a river close to where I live in the countryside. When they cleaned the river we got to see what was at the bottom of it, which was truly putrid. In the river there was a bicycle, with its wheel sticking out above the surface of the water. So they thought it would be easy to pull out, but it was terribly difficult because it had become so heavy from all the dirt it had collected over the years. Now they've managed to clean up the river, the fish are slowly returning to it, so all is not lost. But the smell of what they dug up was really awful. Everyone had just been throwing stuff into that river over the years, so it was an absolute mess.56 The book, The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, provides an analysis of the River Spirit: Chichiro’s reactivation of a submerged early-childhood memory will enable her to remind Haku of his true identity as the Kohaku River Spirit prior to his subjugation by Yu-Baaba. The situations and events that unfold within Yuya repeatedly allude, more or less explicitly, not only to the issues of consumerism and materialism but also to environmental depletion and societal atomization. [...] The River Spirit: a once noble and pure creature transformed into a slimy, fetid monster by its unintentional absorption of heaps of junk metal of precisely the kind one would expect to find at the bottom of many of today’s streams. A succinct but visually evocative allusion to the problem of pollution can also be found in the image of the bath house chimneys discharging black smoke into the surrounding blue sky.57 Five recent years pass here, and strangely I have looked for Japanese films made in this time with environmental perspectives, and have failed to find any. Perhaps they exist and not much has been written down yet.
54 Shapiro, James Emanuel. Charisma Review. http://www.reel.com/ accessed July 27, 2007. 55 Ebert, Roger. 56 http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/hayao_miyazaki.shtml 57 Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. pp 139,141.

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 17

CONCLUSIONS
There are three questions that need to be asked of this project: • What solutions are offered in Japanese films? • Is this causing the Japanese to be more environmentally aware? • What relevance does this have to Americans and the Western world? The first question can be answered by reviewing this project and by watching the films in this project. If there is one thing I can say after reviewing all of this, it is the message: what needs to change to save and protect the environment are not so much individual policies or particular actions, but that the attitudes people have of the environment. The second question.... it would be fantastic if I had a survey that compared what films different Japanese people have seen and how environmentally aware they are; if anything is clear from my writing style it is that I am no hardcore scholar or researcher. Any volunteers? So I don’t have that information. One of the books I read for this project has this statement, which is now very relevant: “Studies do report that the mass media can instigate waves of public concern over issues, despite no real change in the incidence of the problem.”58 So how has environmental awareness changed in Japan? People watch films, people see fake problems in films, then people look at reality and realize those problems are actually happening, people complain, people organize, organizations lobby politicians, politicians take action. Is film influencing the Japanese people to be more environmentally aware? Perhaps. If it works for the Japanese, then that would answer the third question. What relevance does this have to Americans and the Western world? Simply put, Japanese films are becoming more and more popular in the States, and as that happens, these environmental messages end up influencing Americans and otherwise ‘Western’ people as well. Also the fact that the environment is truly shared by the world, and if even one country becomes more environmentally friendly, in this increasingly international world, it improves the environment for everyone. Turning back to how I started this project, many reviewers have criticized these Japanese films that have environmental themes. But these films, and other media, are using their cultural force to actually try to improve something significant. That alone is worth the effort.

58 Broadbent, Jeffrey. Environmental Politics in Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. pp 109.

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Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 19 Final Fantasy VII. Dir. Hironobu Sakaguchi. 1997. DVD. Squaresoft. FLCL. Dir. Kazuya Tsurumaki. 2000. DVD. Gainax. Godzilla. Dir. Ishiro Honda. 1954. DVD. Toho. Grave of the Fireflies. Dir. Isao Takahata. 1988. DVD. Ghilbi. Harrington, Richard. Castle in the Sky. Washington Post. Washington D.C.: Sep. 2, 1989. Harrington, Richard. Movies; A-Bomb Horror in Animation. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nov. 21, 1992.  p. g.03  Henriksen, Thormod, and H. David Maillie. Radiation & Health. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2003. Himatsuri. Dir. Mitsuo Yanagimachi. 1985. DVD. Holland, Bernard.  New York Times. New York: Aug 30, 1987. Holton, W. Conard. Power Surge: Renewed Interest in Nuclear Energy. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 11. (Nov., 2005), pp. A742-A749. Hoye, Timothy. Japanese Politics. Upper Saddle River: Simon and Schuster, 1999. http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/hayao_miyazaki.shtml Ikiru. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. 1952. DVD. Toho. Imura, Hidefumi, and Schreurs Miranda. Environmental Policy in Japan. Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2005. James, Caryn. Castle in the Sky: review. New York Times. New York: 1986 James, Caryn. Review: Animated Adventure Fantasy from Japan. New York Times. New York: Aug. 1989. p. C.18 Japan's TEPCO says radiation leak at nuclear plant lasted 3 days. AFX News Limited. Forbes. July 19, 2007. Kellert, Stephen R. Japanese Perceptions of Wildlife. Conservation Biology, Vol. 5, No. 3. (Sep., 1991), pp. 297-308. Kerr, Alex. Dogs and Demons. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. Knight, John. A Tale of Two Forests: Reforestation Discourse in Japan and Beyond. The Journal

Heis, Environmental Perspectives in Japanese Film 20 of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 3, No. 4. (Dec., 1997), pp. 711-730. Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Dir. Hayao Miyazaki. 1986. DVD. Ghilbi. The Makioka Sisters. Dir. Kon Ichikawa. 1983. DVD. Toho. Maslin, Janet.  Himatsuri, Problems of Change. New York Times. New York: Oct. 3, 1985.  p. C.24  Mason, Robert J. Whither Japan's Environmental Movement? An Assessment of Problems and Prospects at the National Level. Pacific Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 2. (Summer, 1999), pp. 187-207. McDonald, Keiko I. Reading a Japanese Film. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006. My Neighbor Totoro. Dir. Hayao Miyazaki. 1988. DVD. Ghilbi. Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Napier, Susan J. Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira. Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Summer, 1993), pp. 327-351. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Dir. Hayao Miyazaki. 1984. DVD. Ghilbi. Noriega, Chon. Godzilla and the Japanese Nightmare: When "Them!" Is U.S. Cinema Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1. (Autumn, 1987), pp. 63-77. Nygren, Scott. Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Orr, James J. The Victim as Hero. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001. Patten, Fred. Watching Anime, Reading Manga. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 2004. Pompoko. Dir. Isao Takahata. DVD. 1994. Princess Mononoke. Dir. Hayao Miyazaki. 1997. DVD. Toho. Record of a Living Being. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. 1955. DVD. Toho. Richie, Donald. A Hundred Years of Japanese Film. Tokyo, New York, London: Kodansha, 2001. Richie, Donald. Japanese Cinema. Garden City: Anchor Books, 1961. Serper, Zvika. Kurosawa's "Dreams": A Cinematic Reflection of a Traditional Japanese Context.Cinema Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4. (Summer, 2001), pp. 81-103.

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Shapiro, Jerome F. Atomic Bomb Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2002. Skov, Lise, and Brian Moeran. Women, Media and Consumption in Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1995. Slaymaker, Douglas, ed. A Century of Popular Culture in Japan. Lewiston, Queenston, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen, 2000. Spirited Away. Dir. Hayao Miyazaki. 2001. DVD. Ghilbi. Thomas, Kevin. Review: Himatsuri: A Born-Again Shintoist. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles: Nov 16, 1985.  p. 5  Washburn, Dennis, and Carole Cavanaugh, eds. Word and Image in Japanese Cinema. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Ziegler, Jan. Rays of Hope in the Land of the Rising Sun. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 103, No. 5. May, 1995: pp. 436-440.