News

    Japan Seeking China's Cooperation to Cut Air Pollution

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Japan is trying to enlist China's help to fight air pollution around East Asia. Some environmental experts in Japan believe their country's problem with declining air quality can be traced to its giant neighbor. But, as Liz Noh reports from Tokyo, assigning blame is a politically sensitive issue.

    Officials with Japan's Environment Ministry say their counterparts in China have agreed to cooperate in the fight against air pollution.

    Japanese officials say former Environment Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi and China's environmental protection head, Zhou Shengxian, reached a verbal agreement in late August. But, the details of such potential cooperation have not yet been worked out.

    Earlier this year, Japan experienced high levels of ozone pollution, also known as "photochemical smog", which is caused when sunlight reacts with emissions from cars and factories.

    Komichi Ikeda is the deputy director of the privately funded Environmental Research Institute. She says the current smog problems have not been seen in Japan since the 1970s, when the country was still industrializing.

    Ikeda says China is now in a similar position.

    "And it's another time to watch the photochemical pollution that must be coming from China, because there are very high concentration[s] in China now," she said. "They have industrialized very quickly and there are no specific or enough control[s] of pollution from automobiles and stationary sources.

    Ikeda says 28 Japanese prefectures have had warnings for high levels of ozone pollution this year, particularly along the Sea of Japan, across from China.

    China's cities have some of the world's worst air quality and the problem is spreading. Pollutants from China have been found in the air in South Korea, Japan and even as far away as the West Coast of the United States.

    But finger pointing by Japan at China is a diplomatically unpopular approach.

    Reiko Sodeno is deputy director at the global environmental issues division of Japan's Environment Ministry. She says Japan is trying to collect more specific data without accusing China directly.

    "Experts pointed out the effects of China. But at the moment, they cannot show concrete contributions from China to Japan," she said. "We notice the effect, but we cannot tell the concrete value or rate of contribution."

    That is why Japan is urging cooperative research with China to try to solve the problem.

    Sodeno says Japan has suggested the two countries work together to monitor ozone levels, using equipment Japan would provide. Japan is also promoting an easier, less-expensive way to monitor ozone, using simulation models.

    However, Japanese officials say since there is no written agreement yet, Japanese and Chinese environment ministries must continue talks to work out the details.

    Sodeno says getting China to cooperate in research using simulation models could be difficult.

    "The simulation model issue, it's more delicate and sensitive because using [a] simulation model, we can detect where is the source and how it contributes to air pollution in Japan," she said.

    Sodeno also says transparency could be an issue and that it could be difficult to get accurate data from Chinese officials for scientific research.

    Masako Ogawa is deputy director of the environmental cooperation department at Japan's Ministry of Environment. She is more optimistic about plans for cooperation.

    "There may be some bureaucracy and [we] may have some problems, but I understand it's very important to engage them from the beginning to have some discussion or dialogue," she said.

    Ogawa says the Chinese government is anxious to tackle the problem, particularly because China has committed to cleaning up its air before the Beijing Olympics next summer.

    Beyond the Olympics, China has a five-year plan to reduce energy consumption and pollution.

    Ogawa says Japan's efforts to help clean up China's air are part of a long commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are thought to contribute to global warming. The emissions are chiefly the result of burning carbon-based fuels, such as coal and oil.

    Japan is working to get the international community to agree on a new framework to limit greenhouse gas emissions that would replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. Drafted a decade ago, the Kyoto Protocol sets mandatory emissions cuts for developed nations, but does not require mandatory cuts by developing countries, such as China.

    Ogawa says that, although discussions with China may lack detail now, Japan sees them as an important step to engage China on environmental issues in a broader, global context.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.