back next archives
(pronounced moat-tie-nigh)
A keyword for global environment issues, meaning "Don't waste what is valuable."
According to the prestigious Japanese dictionary Kojien, the word mottainai (pronounced moat-tie-nigh) is most commonly used to express a feeling of regret when something is put to waste without deriving its value. Recently the term has become a keyword in coping with global problems related to resources and the environment.

The most prominent advocate of mottainai is Wangari Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister and winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai believes that the word perfectly embodies the spirit of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle), which promotes the efficient use of resources.

The spirit of mottainai is also discussed in the government's 2005 Environmental White Paper and White Paper on the Recycling-Based Society. At the G8 summit in July, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro told the leaders of the other countries, "It may be difficult to translate the word into English, French, German, or other languages, but I believe we can just use the Japanese word mottainai."

Prime Minister Koizumi called for the use of mottainai as a universal term in international efforts for the effective utilization of resources. (September 28, 2005)