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Japan, China, South Korea agree to cooperate over disaster waste

Kyodo

Environment ministers from Japan, China and South Korea agreed Wednesday to cooperate on management and reuse of disaster waste, with Tokyo offering to share its experience from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan and other disasters.

“Japan would prepare an opportunity among the three countries to share experience and know-how on disaster waste management,” said the joint communique adopted by the ministers following their two-day meeting in Shizuoka, where they also discussed air pollution and marine trash.

Environmental cooperation is one of the few realms that have not suffered a serious setback amid Japan’s sometimes strained diplomatic relations with China and South Korea over differing views on history and territory. The trilateral environment talks have been held annually since 1999.

“Tackling (disaster waste) is a common challenge faced by the three countries,” Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa said at a post-meeting news conference.

Her Chinese counterpart Chen Jining said China would like to deepen cooperation and promote exchanges as it is facing the same kind of problem in disaster waste management. Yoon Seong-kyu represented South Korea at the meeting.

The joint communique said the three countries will also share experience and know-how on enhancement of waste management facilities that are resilient in the face of disasters and enrichment of networks for supporting affected municipalities.

The 2011 quake-tsunami disaster in Japan generated about 20 million tons of debris, while a massive amount of disaster waste was left following a 2008 devastating quake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province.

The ministers also confirmed the need for trilateral cooperation on tackling air pollution through policy dialogue, the communique said, at a time when high concentrations of PM2.5, harmful particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, are causing pollution in China.

The three countries will hold a workshop and a working-level meeting on marine trash annually to exchange information, the paper also said.

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