A two-day intergovernmental meeting aimed at establishing a network to monitor acid rain in East Asia kicked off Wednesday at a hotel in Niigata.

Representatives of 10 countries, including Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia, as well as a number of international organizations, will discuss ways to prevent acid rain, the first such attempt to do so in East Asia.

Environment Agency officials said Japan hopes to conclude a treaty to reduce the quantity of substances causing acid rain after several years of research.

Participants are expected to decide to designate a Niigata-based acid rain research center as the backbone of the planned Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia.

The participants will also decide on whether to situate the network's permanent headquarters at the U.N. Environment Program or at the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Efforts in East Asia to prevent acid rain started in 1993 with an expert-level meeting held to set up a network to monitor acid rain.

In 1998, a trial observation covering 38 locations in 10 countries was started, with its interim base at the Environment Agency.

International preventive efforts against acid rain have been under way for some time in Europe. Countries in the region concluded a treaty to curb air pollution in 1979 following recognition of the seriousness of acid rain damage.

In 1985, these countries also signed a pact to reduce the amount of sulfur oxide in the air by 30 percent.