Japan will help U.S., Canada clean up disaster debris

September 07, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

As a goodwill gesture, Japan will provide $6 million (470 million yen) to U.S. West Coast states and a western Canadian province to help in the cleanup of debris from the Great East Japan Earthquake that has floated across the Pacific.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda plans to announce the new program when he meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 8, when he attends the summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

Under international agreements, nations hit by natural disasters are not obligated to handle the debris that arises from such disasters.

However, sources close to the prime minister's office said providing the funds would be a gesture of goodwill, rather than compensation for the cleanup, after the support provided by various nations, including Operation Tomodachi that was implemented by the U.S. military immediately after last year's deadly March 11 quake and tsunami.

Under one estimate by the Environment Ministry, a maximum of about 1.5 million tons of debris could float across the Pacific. That debris is expected to start reaching the western shores of the United States and Canada in October. In February, there is the possibility that about 40,000 tons could drift within 10 kilometers of the west coast of the two nations.

There have already been a number of reports about debris from Japan washing up on the shores of the United States and Canada, including a 165-ton concrete dock from Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, that washed ashore in Oregon.

The U.S. government has already decided to provide a total of $250,000 to California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii to go toward the cleanup.

In a meeting in late April with U.S. President Barack Obama, Noda expressed his concerns about the problem, and his aides have been considering what steps to take in response.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Members of an Alaskan nonprofit organization clean up earthquake debris from Japan on the shores of Montague Island in the Gulf of Alaska. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Members of an Alaskan nonprofit organization clean up earthquake debris from Japan on the shores of Montague Island in the Gulf of Alaska. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Members of an Alaskan nonprofit organization clean up earthquake debris from Japan on the shores of Montague Island in the Gulf of Alaska. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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