In Japan (other countries may also be used as reference) it’s said that wastewater from households is the cause of 70 percent of water pollution.  According to documents from the Ministry of the Environment, wastewater refers to drainage water from everyday life such as kitchens, toilets, baths, laundry, etc.  The amount of water used by a single person each day has reached 250 liters.  Wastewater can be broken down into miscellaneous household drainage (kitchens, baths, laundry) and human waste (toilet), with the former accounting for 70 percent.  Of this, the largest is wastewater from kitchens, with miscellaneous household drainage making up 40 percent. 

One indicator of the degree of water contamination is BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand).  BOD is the amount of oxygen used when microorganisms in the water breakdown wastewater.  Put simply, high BOD means we must be mindful of flushing water that is not dirty. 

For BOD value, the value where oxygen still exists of 10mg O2/L has been adopted as the minimum environmental standard.  In Japan, thanks to vault toilets, separate sewage treatment tanks, public sewage systems, rural community sewage, community plants, and individual sewage treatment tanks, one public body of water, a major river’s BOD value (from the Ministry of the Environment’s collection of environmental statistics) is continuing to decrease when compared to the previous year’s study.    Although the data is old, the numbers for the Tone River in Japan were 1.9mg in 1985, 1.7mg in 2000, and 1.5mg in 2002.  Even non-major rivers are showing improvement (reference: the Ministry of the Environment, public water quality measurements).

In recent news, Chinese investment firms and investors are said to be eyeing Japan’s water sources and purchasing or considering purchase.  Population growth is one reason, but the number one reason is apparently water contamination.  The main contaminants in Chinese rivers are organic materials and ammonium-nitrogen, as well as phenol and cyanogen, which are causing the pollution to progress.  These come mainly from industrial wastewater and miscellaneous household drainage, with the former slightly under 40 percent and most of the latter being released into the environment without being treated.  One of the six large rivers in China, the Yangtze and its tributaries, has relatively good water quality, however it is degrading and worsening (reference: the Ministry of the Environment website.)  Even though the maintenance and installation of public sewage and septic tanks is rapidly taking place, water quality improvement is likely to take a long time.  
Water contamination is undoubtedly a large problem for not only China, but also other emerging nations.    

As we are not researchers we don’t know if Japan is a good example, however if water quality has improved as the data shows, then as a country we should proactively carry out technical collaborations such as sewage treatment and septic tanks.  Recently, we often see the phrase “water business” so we think that perhaps actions are being taken.  However, wastewater improvements are not just talk about technical capacities, but also have a big influence on the country and the culture, as well as the way of living.  The topic is likely much larger than we can possibly imagine.


The world’s population

To get a macro understanding for a task, we visit the Japanese Bureau of Statistics website.  This site has a page on world population and the content is taken from the United Nations Statistic Division. 

We’d like to show the shifts taking place in the world’s population.  Below are the populations for the top 10 countries in 2009.

China                               1.35 billion            Male 700 million    Female 650 million

India                                1.2 billion               Male 620 million    Female 580 million

United States                315 million            Male 155 million    Female 159 million

Indonesia                   230 million         Male 115 million    Female 115 million

Brazil                           194 million               Male 95 million      Female 98 million

Pakistan                      181 million                Male 93 million      Female 88 million

Bangladesh                  162 million               Male 82 million      Female 80 million

Nigeria                         155 million               Male 78 million      Female 77 million

Russia                             141 million               Male 65 million      Female 76 million

Japan                              127 million               Male 62 million      Female 65 million

The 2050 population estimate is below.  *The website also lists a 2025 forecast. 

India                              1.61 billion              Male 820 million      Female 790 million

China                             1.41 billion               Male 730 million   Female 680 million

United States             400 million             Male 200 million       Female 200 million

Pakistan                      335 million            Male 171 million      Female 164 million

Nigeria                          289 million            Male 146 million      Female 144 million

Indonesia                         288 million            Male 142 million      Female 146million

Bangladesh                         222 million            Male 111 million      Female 111 million

Brazil                                  219 million             Male 106 million    Female 113 million

Ethiopia                              174 million              Male 87 million       Female 87million

Democratic Republic of the Congo   148 million     Male 73 million       Female 74 million

The world population is estimated to be 6.83 billion people in 2009 and 9.15 billion in 2050. 

One possible reason that India will overtake China is China’s “one child policy,” which has been in effect since 1979.   The policy may also explain the difference in China’s male to female ratio.  In India, the male to female ration difference may come from the fact that males are preferred from the labor and manpower standpoint.  Also, it has been pointed out that for women, families must come up with expensive dowries during weddings.    Some feel that the gender discrimination problem also has an impact.  If the predictions are correct, this will mean that in 2050 approximately 50 million Chinese men and 30 million Indian men will be unable to marry.  China will also be facing the problems associated with becoming an aging society.  

Recently, the United States has also become a topic in the population discussion.  It is being said that in 2050 the number of Hispanic residents will reach approximately 100 million.  *Population growth is also affecting the United States.  In Europe, countries are facing dwindling birthrates and aging populations as well as increasing numbers of immigrants.  The number of people with Arab backgrounds also continues to increase. 

Countries known as “developed nations,” are beginning to take measures for aging populations (or already aged societies).  Population growth is considered one of the contributing factors for economic growth.  What should be done in Japan?  Japan’s 2050 population is expected to be approximately 90 million.

Healthcare-branding: World AIDS Day

December 1st was World AIDS Day.  Although the red ribbon symbol is widely known, there are probably few people who remember the exact month and day that it takes place.  World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 and was directed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (below UNAIDS) until 2005 when it was changed to The World AIDS Campaign.    

As a side note, the red ribbon wasn’t something decided on by UNAIDS alone.  A short while before World AIDS Day was established, an American Christian group made the red ribbon a symbol to eliminate the prejudice and discrimination against AIDS patients. 

AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a symptom induced by HIV infection, but the term doesn’t refer to the HIV infection itself.  According to the UNAIDS AIDS Epidemic Update 2009, the number of deaths around the world due to AIDS was 2 million, including both adults and children.  The number of people infected with HIV (officially HIV-positive people) is said to be 33.4 million. 

The region with the highest number deaths from AIDS and people infected with HIV is sub-Saharan Africa.  In 2008, the number of AIDS-related deaths was approximately 1.4 million and 22.4 million people were infected with HIV.  In the same year, the HIV positive rate decreased compared to rates from 2001, the sole piece of good news.  Following Africa, the region with the next highest number is Asia, which had 300,000 AIDS-related deaths and 4.7 million HIV-infected people in 2008.  In 2001, with the former at 280,000 people and the latter at 4.7 million, the rate of infection appeared to be easing compared to the 1990s, however the fact is that it is increasing.

Although there are geographical differences, the main means of transmission is sexual intercourse.  UNAIDS is strongly appealing for the necessity of measures in each region.  While the details are not written about in a report, it seems that a country’s economic growth relieves the spread of infection.  However, it has also been pointed out that the disparity in income may lead to further expansion. 

Though the situation is not completely stable, the results from the 22 years of UNAIDS-led activities are promising signs.