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Ishigaki officials demand stronger junkyard laws

Date Posted: 2004-12-30

As a new recycling law goes into effect next year, Yaeyama Islands officials aren’t happy the regulations don’t go far enough.

The junk car recycling law will remove an estimated 650 junk cars from Ishigaki’s streets and neighborhoods, but a junkyard owner says the problem is partially the government’s fault. “We would have done it, but it’s because of the Yaeyama Welfare Health Center not allowing us to move forward that we haven’t already done the work,” he said.

Cars already have Freon gas removed before they are junked for scrap, but people are now fearing that other pollutants in cars will cause damage to the environment, and want them removed as well. Officials are getting calls for junkyards to remove oils and lubricants before the cars are scrapped.

Aside from environmental concerns, residents don’t like the unsightly scene of hundreds of ugly trashed cars lining the harbor, where cruise ships filled with potential tourists can see them. They charge the rusted cars are an eyesore. A junkyard vendor retorts “I’ve got orders from the Welfare Health Center that grants permission to keep these cars at the harbor.”

The Welfare Health Center refused to answer questions, but there are reports an investigation is under way to see if there are violations of cars being abandoned near the harbor.

“Not true,” one junkyard owner challenges. “No, no, never. It is not trash. I pay ¥500 for each one of these cars, and they are my property. I’m just asking the harbor side to get permission for me to keep my cars here until some mainland ship comes to pick them up.”

All well and good, city officials say, but they want the Freon gas and the oils removed to protect Ishigaki’s environment.

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