Japan Wants To Help Southeast Asian Countries With Their Trash

Japan is creating proposals and bids to manage waste in Southeast Asia nations. 

The Japanese government is forming public-private partnerships to grab the opportunity for their waste-to-power plants in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. 

Osaka city and municipalities’ offices will be working with private companies like Hitachi Zosen, JFE Engineering, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Other Japanese exporters are also expected to join the cause. 

In the 1960s, Japanese companies started building a trash-to-energy power plant to help cope with the by-products of the country’s economic boom. Japan has around 380 waste-to-energy plants which make up 30% of the country’s waste disposal facilities. 

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to discuss these plans in the upcoming G20 Summit 2019 on June 28-29 in Osaka. One of the summit’s Main Themes is Environment and Energy. Specific topics under this theme are Climate Change, Energy, and Environment (Marine Plastic Litter).
It will be the first time for Japan to assume the G20 presidency after it was hosted in South America last 2018. 

“As the presidency, we will exert strong leadership in discussions aimed towards resolving global issues such as climate change and ocean plastic waste,” stated in Prime Minister Abe’s message to the G20 participants.

Participating leaders will be from the Group 20 countries with guest leaders from the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, and Vietnam. Organizations like the World Bank, World Trade Organization, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Health Organization will also attend. 

Japan’s Proposal Goes Beyond Waste Removal 

Waste-to-energy plants are not yet widespread for Southeast Asia countries due to high costs of building and maintenance. With each of these countries rising economic boom, there is a need to re-strategize waste disposal.

Aside from Japan, China and other countries are also offering waste-for-energy services. However, Japan proposes a program that goes beyond waste removal. Apart from waste disposal systems, Japan aims to include personal training, recycling, and other services specific to a country’s needs.

For Vietnam, Japan plans to tackle its groundwater contamination problems. Included partners are creating proposals to improve water and sewage systems. The Environment Ministry will work with Hitachi Zosen because of its experience with similar situations in other places in Southeast Asia. 

The excessive amount of trash is Indonesia’s widespread problem. Waste can no longer be safely disposed of by garbage landfills. Thus, plastic waste and toxins tend to run off into the ocean. Currently, the Environment Ministry is studying the amount and kinds of waste to identify appropriate waste management solutions.

For the Philippines, poor trash management that leads to air pollution and overflowing of landfills cause health issues. Japan offers waste management technology that prevents emissions and harmful by-products. Nippon Steel Engineering is already studying the Philippine’s situation to take part in the bidding. 

Japan’s proposals aim to create new markets for their waste technology and further strengthen its relationships with the recipient country. 

Japan’s Reputation on Cleaning

Japan has earned its reputation as a country who takes correct waste disposal seriously. 

A video made by AJ+ highlighted Japanese school system’s mandatory clean-up programs for Japanese children. In the video, students are shown cleaning their classroom, serving lunch, and cleaning up after themselves. Big clean up projects are also included in their curriculum. 

Kyoko Takashima, a teacher featured in the video, emphasized that cleaning builds a child’s self-confidence. Aside from that, instilling discipline, like cleaning up after one’s self, is essential to be taught at an early age.

Last year, Japan also made news when Japanese soccer fans cleaned the stadium after their World Cup match against Colombia. The fans brought their garbage bags and swept rows and aisles picking up trash like discarded plastic cups and paper plates. Japan has earned the respect of millions as the fans’ action reflected their good culture.

Aside from the fans, Japanese athletes also contributed to their country’s reputation for cleanliness. In 2018, after losing a match to Belgium at the FIFA World Cup, the athletes cleaned their dressing rooms. They also left a “thank you” note written in Russian. 

Of course, another cleaning success story comes from Marie Kondo, the founder of KonMari, a lifestyle brand promoting tidying methods. Earlier this year, Netflix released an eight-part series with Kondo’s clients in the US. The reality show features eight families that needed Kondo’s help in letting go of their stuff that no longer sparks joy. 

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