The symposium was organized to discuss some important and urgent issues on development and preservation of humid tropical environments. In 1988, the Study Group on Tropical Environment was established in the Association, and since then thirteen meetings have been held for giving papers and discussions. As a result of these activities, a more active research group, the Working Group on Tropical Environments, was set up in 1992. This was the first Symposium held by this Working Group. In the symposium, seven papers were presented and ten specialists commented on them. The names of the reporters and the titles of the papers are as follows: M. Shinoda: Environmental characteristic of humid tropics and their change. K. Nakano: Shifting cultivation and preservation of the natural environment; Some findings from field study in Southeast Asia and Melanesia. T. Sato: Sustainable development of agricultural production in the humid tropics. T. Tanaka, O. Shimmi, J. Shimada and I. Kayane: Land-use development on volcanic slopes in the tropics and its preservation; A case study in Bali Island. E. Matsumoto: Development in agricultural land-use and environmental change in the Atlantic coastal area of north-eastern Brazil. K. Ikeya: Comparative study on environment use in the flood plain areas of tropical savannas; The cases of R. Niger, Menam Chao Phraya and Rio Amazonas. T. Miyagi and K. Fujimoto; Formation process and present situation of mangrove ecosystem. Each report received one or two comments, and finally we held an open debate on some of the important topics. The main topics discussed were: (1) Scale, in terms of both space and time. Scale is very important in a discussion of the magnitude of human impact on the natural environment. (2) Socio-political influence on the natural environment. Much more attention must be paid to sociopolitical aspects in environmental studies and conservation studies. (3) Tradeoff relations not only between development and degradation of the environment but also among peoples and regions. (4) The necessity to enrich the geographical database (such as the Geographical Information System) not only on the global but also on the local level.
Recent studies on the history of geographical thought have been based on recent developments in studies on methodology and epistemology in the history of science. A central claim is that studies on the history of geographical thought need to explore the relations between the “Social Context” and individual geographers, or various institutions. Since the latter half of the 1980s, the study group on geographical thought (one of the study groups in the Association of Japanese Geographers) has focused on studies on the history of modern geography in the early Meiji Era. The principal themes are: 1) the influence of foreign professors employed by the Meiji Government who played an important role in introducing modern scientific geography; 2) the establishment of geography as a professional discipline and the opinions of nonacademic geographers; 3) the foundation of geographical societies; 4) the institutionalization of modern geography. Six articles contain the results of our study group. K. Isobe: The experience of social milieu: The method of J. Valdour. K. Hasegawa: Amateurism and academism in the modern geography of the United Kingdom. A. Tezuka: Some remarks on the diffusion of F. Ratzel's “Antropo-geograpie” in Japanese geography. T. Okada: The methodology and research thema of studies on history of geographical thought in modern Japanese geography. S. Minamoto: The importance of the bibliographical text critique in studies of translation. H. Kurihara: The institutionalization of geographical education in the University of Tokyo Joshishihan.
The symposium was organized to make clear the present condition of urban climatic environment and to reflect on the future of the human environment of a city. Thus it was divided into two parts: one to discuss urban climate, in particular the climatic environment within the urban canopy and heat island; the second to consider the meaning of green areas in a city and amenities from the climatic and administrative points of view. I: Urban Climates (1) K. SAKAIDA and M. SUZUKI: Micro-climate of street canyon with Ginko trees in Sendai city. (2) T. MIKAMI and T. HAMADA: Thermal environment of large-scale park green areas in Tokyo. (3) A. KONDO, A. KURIHARA and T. MIKAMI: Analysis of heat island phenomena in the Kanto plain by satellite remote-sensing technology. Commentator: K. NAKAGAWA II: Green Areas and Amenities (1) Y. FUKUOKA: Importance of green areas in an urban area and amenities. (2) S. SAITO: Environmental policy and administration-A case study of Sendai city. Commentator: N. NAKAJIMA: Tree-planting policy in Singapore-A comparative study. Questions and comments in the discussions were mainly as follows: (1) efficiency of Landsat data for nocturnal heat island analysis; (2) the climatic implications of green areas in a city; (3) the effect of horizontal scale on heat island, (4) the importance of sizes and kinds of green areas, and (5) the environmental attitude of the administration.
Physical geography in Japan has been divided into climatology, geomorphology, hydrology, etc., as independent disciplines during the past 10 to 20 years. On the other hand, the need for synthesizing these disciplines in the areal context has increased with the need to cope with environmental problems. The raison d'être of physical geography as a discipline was discussed from the standpoint of a number of disciplines, as follows: Y. Fukuoka: From the standpoint of climatology T. Tamura: From the standpoint of geomorphology K. Mori: From the standpoint of hydrology H. Kadomura: From the standpoint of environmental science T. Koizumi: From the standpoint of geoecology