From fertilizer plants in Turkmenistan to nickel smelting in the Philippines, Kanoko Kamata’s consulting work for Environmental Resources Management (ERM) has taken her across the globe to provide a full spectrum of environmental and social assessments for Japanese and multi-national automotive, chemical, and electronic companies. Selected as one of the Ash Center’s two 2011-12 Roy and Lila Ash Fellows in Democracy, Kamata hopes her background at ERM as well as her interest in public deliberation will inform her future goals to motivate Japanese citizens to become more active in the policymaking process, especially as it relates to environmental and social sustainability.
In the Philippines, Kamata performed a complete environmental and social assessment of a nickel mine transitioning into a smelting plant. As nickel mines typically cause deforestation and erosion, Kamata reviewed the company’s plans to revitalize the natural habitat while adhering to strict regulations such as water safety and the proper resettlement of the area’s native residents.
“I am proud of my achievements and was engaged by my work,” said Kamata, “but I have become increasingly disillusioned by Japan’s inadequate laws and my country’s opaque policy process.” She believes that the Japanese business community wields too much power, aiding in the creation of diluted ecological regulations and policies that lack the necessary strength to truly reduce the country’s waste and emissions. “Japan’s future is bleak if we continue down this path of weak environmental and social regulations and an unengaged citizenry,” said Kamata.