Japan is dark green, England pale green. The dark green of Japan is the forest which covers three quarters of its land mass. The pale green of England is its agricultural land- what we fondly call our “green and pleasant land”. The stark contrast between our two countries came home to me today in a 500 mile plane journey from Tokyo to Fukuoka. There was no cloud cover, so you could see the country clearly set out before you, from coast to coast. Essentially, Japan is one mountain range after another; steep mountian sides which are useless for farming, hence the dense forest. All the people and all the cultivation are crowded in the few flat parts, which are mainly along the coast. Japan has one quarter of the usable land of the UK and double the population.
The consequence of this shortage of land is that the Japanese live in much smaller and much more expensive homes than we do. Most live in flats; gardens are rare. At least they have the comfort of knowing that the situation isn’t going to get worse, because their population is falling, owing to a declining birth rate. In the UK, in contrast, the population is rising fast, mainly due to the open door policy to European immigration, and their high birth rate. New houses are needed for these extra millions. We have plenty of space to build them without making a dent into our green and pleasant land. When I left England there was a massive campaign under way against the proposals to make it easier to build more houses. When you see what the Japanese have to put up with you can only thank God that at least we have the choice, and yes, we can build as many houses as we need without making any appreciable impact on our green and pleasant land.