• Nna/kyodo

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A Japanese picture book encouraging an eco-friendly mottainai lifestyle has been published in India to teach children in the world’s second-most-populous nation the importance of reducing waste, according to Japan’s aid agency.

The English-Hindi bilingual edition of “Mottainai Grandma” was released at the New Delhi World Book Fair, which ended earlier this month, with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The book will eventually be published in 11 other regional languages in India, the agency said.

Kodansha Ltd. started releasing the picture book series in 2004 and has been conducting a survey on picture books in the Indian capital since 2016 under JICA’s development aid program.

Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai, who died in 2011, promoted the idea of “mottainai,” an expression of regret when something is used wastefully.

JICA said the book is in line with the Indian government’s “Clean India Mission,” initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agency said the concept is based on the “four R’s” — reduce, reuse, recycle and respect.

“JICA would like to encourage children to share the spirit of mottainai with their families and friends,” Takayoshi Tange, senior representative of the JICA India office, said in a statement. “This will help children understand the importance of their environment and they will contribute toward building a better world.”

“Mottainai Grandma” will be available at major book stores across the country or online from the website of the National Book Trust, India, the government-run publishing house.

The local publisher plans to publish two more books — “Mottainai Grandma Let’s Eat” and “Mottainai Grandma Goes to Magic Land” — this year under a license agreement with Kodansha, according to JICA.

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