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Japan to push G-20 for end to ocean plastic pollution by 2050

TOKYO -- All dumping of plastic waste into the world's oceans would end by 2050 under a plan the Japanese government will propose at the Group of 20 summit of major economies in Osaka, set to open on June 28.

Dubbed the "Osaka Blue Ocean Vision," Japan is also considering including the plan in the G-20 leaders' joint statement, a source close to the government has told the Mainichi Shimbun. However, although Tokyo is chairing the summit, it is unclear whether it can steer attendees to agreement on the plan.

According to the government source, Japan aspires to see all the countries and regions at the G-20 share the view that urgent action is needed to deal with the oceanic plastic garbage problem, and agree on setting a 2050 deadline for ending further plastic littering in the world's seas. However, specific plastic pollution reduction measures are not likely to be included in the summit joint declaration, due to the significant gap between rich and developing nations' plastic waste processing infrastructure.

A June 15-16 meeting of G-20 environment and energy ministers in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, adopted a joint statement calling for the creation of an international framework to collect data on oceanic plastic garbage. Tokyo aims to see this framework guarantee the viability of the Blue Ocean Vision.

Estimates state that, if plastic waste remains unchecked, cumulatively it will weigh more than all the fish in the ocean by 2050.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government will not include a passage on strengthening anti-global warming measures required under the Paris Agreement in the G-20 leaders' statement. The move is thought to have been made out of consideration for the United States, which President Donald Trump has announced is leaving the landmark climate accord.

On June 28, G-20 leaders are expected to address trade and the digital economy, and closing the gender gap and environmental issues on June 29. The summit will then close with the issuance of the joint leaders' communique.

A declaration passage on implementing free and fair trade is currently being considered amid the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S.

(Japanese original by Toshiyuki Suzuki and Ai Oba, Science & Environment News Department, and Naoya Matsumoto, Business News Department)

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