The Tokyo Metropolitan Government started a project Monday to cut down 1.8 million cedar trees in the mountainous Tama region west of Tokyo to help people with cedar pollen allergies.
One in every four residents in the metropolitan area is believed to suffer from cedar pollen allergies in spring, when the trees release vast amounts of pollen into the air.
The project, aimed at reducing pollen produced by a 1,200-hectare area in the mountains by 20 percent over 10 years, involves replacing ordinary cedar trees with broadleaf trees and a new kind of cedar that releases only a tenth of the pollen of the conventional cedar.
Timber from the felled trees will be used to make desks and lockers for schools and to help build private housing, the metropolitan government said.
“(The cedar trees) have caused vast damage across the country, but the central government hasn’t done anything for us. The metropolitan government will take the first step,” said Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who attended the ceremony.