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Okinawa’s southern beaches deluged by foreign garbage

Date Posted: 2009-06-04

Miyakojima City and Yaeyama archipelago’s beaches are being inundated by trash and garbage, and officials are pointing the finger at other Asian countries as responsible for the bulk of it.

The National Defense Academy has assigned an environmental ground engineering professor to study the problem and examine Miyako and Yaeyama suspicions. Both Miyako and Yaeyama have been studying the garbage being collected from their beaches, and say at least 30% is coming from overseas. Since beginning a documentation process in 1998, the volume of trash and garbage has exploded. Measurements in 1998 showed 1,437 pieces of trash on a kilometer of beach; in 2008, the number of pieces of garbage recorded was 156,939 pieces.

Professor Haruyuki Yamaguchi says “It will take time to check the garbage, and where it came from.” He says the problem is complex, because much of the garbage is degraded and labels are hard to read. “We’ll quickly think what we can do, and at least make a plan for collection and removal of the garbage.” Earlier analysis of the garbage over the ten-year period showed 1.7% was clearly of Japanese origin, and 22.9% clearly from overseas. The other 75.4% is uncertain, the professor says.

Studying the decade-long series of data collected, officials say that while there’s not100% accuracy, it’s believed nearly 75% of the overseas garbage comes from China, 11.1% from Taiwan, and 8.6% from Korea. The garbage, officials say, is mostly plastic bottles and bags, and foam polystyrene.

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