Earth Day Tokyo 2009, a two-day festival aimed at raising environmental awareness, will kick off at Yoyogi Park in Shibuya Ward and other venues Saturday.

The world’s largest Earth Day festival is expected to attract 130,000 people to the park, where musicians will hold concerts, nonprofit organizations will exhibit their philanthropic activities and shops will have a range of organic foods on sale.

Participants at the ninth annual festival will promote ecological lifestyles and the development of electricity generated by fuels with low carbon dioxide emissions.

“Earth Day is the place for very serious people to get together and talk about any subject on the planet, but also a lot of fun and good food,” novelist and environmentalist C.W. Nicol, the chairman of the Earth Day Tokyo 2009 Committee, told The Japan Times.

“What makes this year’s event special is that we don’t allow foods that are not produced organically,” said Izumi Morita, who works with Nicol at the C.W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust.

She also said that nongovernmental organization booths are informative on the kinds of problems the world is facing because NGOs represent the weakest people.

Nicol, a British-born naturalized Japanese citizen, added: “And it’s not a protest. It’s a celebration. If it was a protest I would not have anything to do with it.”

The number of people attending the festival has gradually increased from 80,000 in 2001, the first year it was held. Last year, the festival attracted 125,000 people, held 47 events and had 566 booths and tents. It also collected 2,009 kg of trash separated into combustible and incombustible waste, plastic bottles, papers, cans and other waste.

Last year’s festival cost about ¥30 million to ¥35 million to hold, which was offset by revenue from sponsors, a committee official said.

There are other events related to Earth Day Tokyo 2009, including underwear maker Wacoal Corp.’s recycling of used bras from Feb. 12 to April 22, and the Music Day 2009 Go! Green concert at Shiokaze Park in Shinagawa Ward on May 4.

Other prefectures, including Osaka, Kanagawa and Shizuoka, are also holding events related to Earth Day, which the late Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson designated in 1970 to fall annually on April 22.

Nelson wanted to make people aware of environmental issues at a time when student and citizen movements were taking place across the United States. He appointed Denis Hayes, a student activist, to coordinate the first Earth Day.

Earth Day events are now held annually in 175 countries.

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