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Cleaning up Tokyo's beaches: An Olympic task

27 Comments
By Kyoko Hasegawa

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© 2018 AFP

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27 Comments
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If I was an olympic athlete I wouldn't even dip my toes in that water. On the topic of pollution, I find many places in Japan to be polluted. Not only from factory pollution but from littering and illegal dumping. Rivers, lakes, beaches, forests, and parks have become convenient trash receptacles. Normal practices in Japan are a far cry from the that famous video of Japanese cleaning up after a soccer game.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Don't just clean it for the Olympics, clean it because it's the right thing to do. The thing to do for the people who pay your salary. For the children of Japan who enjoy the swimming areas for the common decency of all kind.

24 ( +24 / -0 )

I can swim in the ocean where I live, wherever I like. Wish I could at Odaiba.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@zatoizugoodo...spot on mate!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This year, beaches in Odaiba were opened for swimming for nine days as a trial,

Nice plan: using children and other members of the public as guinea pigs. A couple of years ago, Odaiba had a limited few days open to the public and told the children not to put their faces in the water.

I was swimming at Sentosa, in Singapore, this year, a very pleasant and clean place for such a big, dense city. experience. I wonder if Odaiba has or will have litter bins and regular trash collection as part of the clean campaign like Sentosa does.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I remember Tokyo Bay in the 70s and it was FILTHY. I was shocked the first time I saw the beach at Odaiba in the 90s cuz swimming there seemed unthinkable.

I hope they get their act together and clean up the water before/during the Olympics.

Otherwise they should move it somewhere cleaner like the Pacific coast of Chiba perhaps in Ichinomiya, Kamogawa or Tateyama.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Normal practices in Japan are a far cry from the that famous video of Japanese cleaning up after a soccer game.

The norm in Japan is form over substance. Cleaning the stadiums after the games was 建前.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Tokyo beaches are filthy. They need far more than some screens and oysters to clean them up.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Speed

the O surfing will be on the Pacific coast of Chiba.... near Ichinomiya in fact

1 ( +1 / -0 )

 70-year-old Yuzo Sekiguchi. "But by the time the last Tokyo Olympic Games were held in 1964... the water was polluted by factory effluent."

Actually, the water was and still is polluted by what is now O’Daiba, which used to be the world's largest garbage island. They did not clean up or cap the island sufficiently and it is still leeching toxins into Tokyo bay. That is why you cannot swim there.

Thats an an interesting point about Tokyo bay oysters. I can’t believe people actually eat them. Also, every year I see families out on the mudflats near Tokyo Disneyland collecting clams. They take these things home and eat them. It’s very difficult to believe.

It is impossible to clean up Tokyo bay after more than a century of it being used as a toxic waste dump.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

How do you clean strontium or the uranium leaked by the American aircraft carrier?

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

I've lost my sensitivity to it. Every time we take the kids to the beach I sit among trash: Ibaraki and Chiba and Kamakura. Yuk. I prefer the mountains. Oregon has the Great Oregon Beach Cleanup. A whole lot less people in Oregon, but there are a lot of tourists and trash gets swept across the ocean and onto the beach: https://www.solveoregon.org/spring-oregon-beach-cleanup

Unfortunately for Tokyo Bay, like the article says, much of the bay shore is a port and off limits to the public, so this type of cleanup would only work away from the city.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@hooktrunk2 - I've lost my sensitivity to it. Every time we take the kids to the beach I sit among trash: Ibaraki and Chiba and Kamakura. Yuk.

The local councils allot very small amounts of money for cleaning up their beaches, which results in a council clean up only once or twice a year. The majority of clean ups are done by volunteer community groups. I regularly go to my favorite beach in Chiba, which is at a river mouth. The beach is consistently littered with human trash. Of course, a small percentage is left by butt-hole beach goers and some from fishermen. However, the majority comes from upriver. Large bags of cans wash up on the beach regularly and form a barrier to get into the water on the high tide - I'm talking about thousands of cans. Then, the biggest problem is cut bamboo. The farmers upstream just cut this crap and dump it into the river, which ends up on the beaches, of course. There is a 10m wide strip of cut bamboo running for 200-300m along the beach at the high tide mark. Huge amounts of it! And, it is all cut! It is not natural. It's disgusting and maddening that people just pass the problem along the river.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

That photo is simply child abuse... the water is toxic, its basically liquid toilet water + whatever sips into water from cars, gazolin and manufacturing in Tokyo... also both major rivers end up there after going thru tokyo farmland...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

About attitudes to waste and waterways, I bring a garbage bag with me to clean up garbage on the riverside that I cycle past when I go to work. I always pass an old man who goes for morning walks along the park in the floodway next to it. He carries a pair of big metal tweezers with him and whenever he finds a discarded can or bottle he dutifully picks it up, walks over to the river edge and throws it in. He literally thinks the river is a garbage can and that he is performing a civic service by ensuring that all litter goes into the river.

God help us if that is the attitude of people who think they are cleaning up the country!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

looking at the pics, no way I,d let my kids into that water. Japanese talk a lot about their " special relationship " with nature but the amount of pollution and garbage in beaches, rivers etc speak for themselves . Whenever I hear that " we Japanese have a special love of nature " stuff i point this out...so far there has been no comeback to that. ...and dont get ne started on destroying the coastline with tens of thousand tons of useless tetrapods and concrete walls...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I went to Odaiba beach about two years ago. I was surprised at how black the water seemed, at how the stench of sewage wafted through the air, and at the signs warning that swimming was not allowed. But I do have to admit the city views are awesome!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"I decided to bring back clean Tokyo beaches for the next generation,"

awww... how good of him to wait until his reputation is in the international limelight. And we know how many “generations” this will last for...same as women’s membership at the men-only golf course; the day after the Olympics are done.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have been to beaches near Nagoya (Ise bay, cheeta hanto) and they were very clean looking. There were dustbins enough and no sight of pollution. It seems Tokyo is plagued by absence of factories monitoring and lack of environmental laws.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well Sekiguchi-san's generation caused the problem so it is fitting he cleans it up.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have been to beaches near Nagoya (Ise bay, cheeta hanto) and they were very clean looking. There were dustbins enough and no sight of pollution. It seems Tokyo is plagued by absence of factories monitoring and lack of environmental laws.

A lot is also determined by how often the beaches are cleaned by volunteers. Easily 95% or more of the garbage on the beaches in Japan is not directly littered there by beachgoers, but rather carried by rivers into the ocean and then washed up on shore. Some of the worst polluted beaches I have seen in Japan have been in rural areas far from factories, but near river mouths or bays where the currents dump it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When the courts dish out punishment for a domestic disturbance or something small, may be they could hand down a "community payback" scheme ie you have to go and pick litter up from the streets or beech areas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I regularly do beach cleaning on my beach. Biggest problem is sorting into different bags. Cans, bottles, ciggeretes, combini plastic and macdonalds.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

wait wait wait... that "seaside park" has been closed for swimming for 10 years at least, why is it now suddenly safe? What about all the ecoli in the water?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Dissillusioned

Thank you for the info and your efforts. Must be frustrating to work so hard and have the mess continually reappear.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tax money spent properly for a change..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great that someone is motivated enough to do this. If it sets an example for other people, and especially if industry would pull more weight in this direction, there could be continual progress.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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