xs@greenpeace.org/pressreleases/toxics/2000may19.htmlFour Greenpeace activists were recently thrown in a Tokyo jail on trespassing charges; they had unfurled a banner from a water tower proclaiming Tokyo to be the world’s dioxin capital. Here the group explains why it wants to decloak the Japanese government’s deadly little secret.

The first step to solving any problem is talking about it, which is why the Dioxin Conference might be the most constructive site out there on the topic. It’s a bulletin board that invites surfers from around the world to discuss a global disaster in the making. You have to register first, though, and the boards are, not surprisingly, quite sober and serious.

Next time you read a dioxin report in any newspaper, including this one, do this: See if it includes an adequate definition of the compound. Know what? It won’t. The Native Forest Network, though, helps out us simpleton journalists and our readers with a straightforward, easy-to-understand explanation.

More than anything, this is a plea from the people of Tokorozawa. They describe their Tokyo neighborhood as “a beautiful, park-like suburb of tree-lined avenues . . . that was once a safe, enjoyable environment for our families.” Then eight years ago it became the incinerator capital of Japan, or, as Greepeace points out, of the world. The government’s response to all the adverse health affects: Don’t worry about it.

This site, Chemical Substances in Housing Environment, is maintained by Kenichi Azuma, who majored in chemistry at Kyoto University before working 10 years for a chemical company. He wants to tackle the dioxin problem from a chemist’s point of view and toward that end has built a solid database about the carcinogen and how the Japanese government recklessly turns a blind eye to it.

Pollutants and Contaminants in Foods in Japan reads like a top-100 list of reasons to leave Japan. But if you’re addicted to your Japanese salary, at the very least these reasons are as good as any to avoid eating fish.

A Malaysian TV news report says dioxin was developed as an alternative to nuclear war. Remember Agent Orange? The facts are a bit misleading — dioxin is actually a byproduct of Agent Orange — but the analogy is a powerful dramatization of what this stuff does to the environment and the food chain. Think about it next time you’re drinking out of a PET bottle.

There may be a way to treat the dioxin Japan creates by burning all its trash. Hitachi Zosen, an industrial equipment company, is introducing a German-invented treatment system that the company claims reduces dioxin to nothing. An explanation of how it works can be found at this site, but there’s nothing that says whether any of the units are in use.