Japan, China and South Korea – three Asian countries who are currently encumbered by long-standing territorial disputes – have come to an agreement on Sunday to start talks about the cross-border nature of air pollution in the region. These talks will be attended by high-ranking environment ministers of the three countries to discuss pollution effects on their countries and the region, especially hazardous particulate matter measuring below 2.5 microns (PM2.5).
This decision was made during an annual two-day meeting of environment ministers in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, southwestern Japan. Sources have revealed that this new panel will meet on a regular basis focus on issues related to air pollution, including discussions on the reduction of nitrogen oxide. At an official dinner on Sunday evening, Japanese Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara shared pleasantries with South Korean counterpart Yoon Seong Kyu and China’s vice minister for environmental protection Li Ganjie, the first time for Japan’s top environment minister since he assumed the post in December. “It is delightful that we could hold the meeting despite strained ties between Japan and two other countries,” Ishihara said. “I hope I will be able to perform my duty as chair so we can make our cooperative stance on tackling the PM2.5 and other issues closer.” The two-day meeting also gave participants, some of them corporate people from businesses all over the region and college students from the participating countries, to discuss other relevant environmental topics and issues, such as the development of ecologically focused businesses and communities. A joint statement by all three ministers will be done on Monday, and is expected to also contain details on joint academic ventures and research by the three countries.
The talks have come at a critical time in Japan, as concerns over air pollution originating from China increased earlier this year. Unprecedented levels of PM2.5 were detected by local government agencies in multiple Japanese cities, causing them to give out pollution alarms to their residents. A Japanese professor collecting data in southern Japan is even attributing a deadly malaise in the region’s trees to the pollution being brought in by the wind currents from the Chinese mainland. But the agreement is significant in more ways politically as with environmental issues. With territorial disputes and political sensibilities being offended in the past few weeks and the countries trading escalating verbal tirades, it is good to see that environmental issues can seek agreement and go beyond politics.
[via Global Post]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan