• Auckland, New Zealand

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The July 10 Kyodo article, “Japanese group polishes the Big Apple,” states: “In a hygiene-conscious country like Japan, where items like antibacterial calculators and toothbrushes are sold, the volunteers — most of whom are Japanese — do not flinch when they encounter dirty trash. Instead, they enjoy it.”

Those Japanese volunteers who clean the dirty streets of New York show good initiative. There was also a recent article about Japanese volunteers cleaning the streets of Paris.

But The Japan Times never wrote an article about me. I spent many days cleaning Kaze-no-Matsubara in Noshiro, Akita Prefecture. I did it alone without generating publicity. I filled big bags with coffee cans thrown away in that pine forest, which has been designated one of the 100 best pine forests in Japan, an honor of which Noshiro is proud.

Old TV sets, refrigerators, manga, pornographic magazines and other garbage can be found everywhere where more than two trees gather in Akita. The beaches look like dumps in early summer before they’re cleaned for the season. Local people always told me that the garbage came from Korea and China.

So, I wonder whether Japanese would like to see groups of foreigners volunteer to clean up the dirty beaches and pine forests of rural Japan.

joergen jensen

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