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With worldwide concern and political attention rapidly growing over the plastic garbage polluting the world’s oceans, Japan has said it will put the environmental crisis on the agenda when it hosts next year’s Group of 20 talks, including the leaders’ summit in Osaka.

“We’re going to make efforts to be a world leader and have this problem dealt with at the G20,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo on Monday morning.

His comments came after the environment ministers of Japan, South Korea, and China met over the weekend to discuss trilateral cooperation on a number of environmental issues, including maritime pollution.

The three environment chiefs agreed to address the growing problem of plastic garbage in the oceans, an issue that will be raised when the three meet the other G20 environment ministers in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, next year on June 15 and 16 for a ministerial meeting on the environment and renewable energy.

Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said last week that Japan will have a policy for dealing with the plastic waste by the G20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, which is scheduled to take place from June 28 to 29 next year.

In March, a study published by Nature magazine set off an international alarm when researchers revealed that a 1.6 million-sq.-km patch of floating plastic trash halfway between Hawaii and California dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, was actually 16 times larger than previously thought. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind the study, estimated the patch consisted of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic garbage and weighed up to 79,000 tons.

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