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Japan, Indonesia issue joint statement on tackling marine plastic pollution

Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada, left, and Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, right, hold a talk in Osaka's Suminoe Ward, on June 27, 2019. (Mainichi/Toshiyuki Suzuki)

OSAKA -- Japanese Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada and Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan on June 27 agreed to form a cooperative system aimed at reducing plastic waste in oceans, which is becoming an increasingly serious problem for Indonesia.

A joint statement issued after Harada and Pandjaitan held talks in the western Japan city of Osaka calls for the monitoring of plastic trash off the coast of Indonesia at specified locations, including checks on the amount of waste, in an initiative that could begin as early as the current fiscal year ending in March 2020.

Marine plastic pollution is one of the main areas of focus of the Group of 20 Summit of leading rich and developing nations being held here on June 28 and 29.

The joint statement also calls for Japan to invite researchers from Indonesia and provide training extending to methods of collecting and analyzing plastic garbage as early as this summer, as a measure to develop human resources.

It is estimated that between 480,000 and 1.29 million metric tons of plastic trash enters the ocean every year from Indonesia, making the country the world's second largest marine plastic litter polluter after China. Indonesia has launched active measures to tackle the problem, including a ban on plastic waste imports that President Joko Widodo announced on June 25.

The Japanese government will offer technical assistance for marine plastic waste reduction to Indonesia, which is a fellow G-20 member, and intends to share basic data on plastic pollution across all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the future. The government also aims to create international standards on the monitoring of plastic trash in oceans down the road.

China previously was the largest importer of plastic waste, but after it banned such imports in principle at the end of 2017, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries that continued to import plastic rubbish essentially became a "dumping ground" for leading nations.

(Japanese original by Toshiyuki Suzuki, Science & Environment News Department)

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