Japan, China discuss cooperation to fight air pollution

February 23, 2013

By ATSUSHI OKUDERA/ Correspondent

BEIJING--Japanese and Chinese government representatives met here Feb. 22 to discuss China's air pollution for the first time since PM 2.5 pollutants reached critical levels throughout the country in January.

PM 2.5 stands for particulate matter of up to 2.5 micrometers in size and is believed to raise the risk of asthma, lung cancer and other diseases.

Division directors representing the environment, foreign and industry ministries of Japan and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China attended the two-hour talks.

A source who attended the meeting quoted Japanese representatives as saying that Tokyo is highly concerned about the air pollution in China because of its possible cross-border spread and environmental impact on Japan.

They also told their Chinese counterparts it would be in the common interests of both countries for Japan to offer its air monitoring, pollutant identification and related environmental technology, which it acquired through its past efforts to fight pollution in Japan, for use in China.

PM 2.5 is believed to come from a broad variety of emission sources. It is impossible to block these emissions unless the pollutants and their sources are identified, a Japanese government source said.

Tokyo's representatives argued that Japanese technology such as electron microscopes and other devices to identify pollutants, along with its pollution-simulation technology, would be instrumental in fighting PM 2.5.

Observers said Tokyo also hopes to open up new business opportunities for Japanese companies that specialize in air pollution mitigation technology to become involved in the efforts in China.

Beijing's representatives replied that China hopes to share the experiences of advanced industrialized nations, including Japan, and explained about Beijing's countermeasures and PM 2.5 monitoring system. Both sides agreed to continue with the talks, the source said.

Japan and China have been cooperating for more than 20 years to fight air pollution. It remains to be seen how the ongoing standoff between the two countries over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea will affect the future of the bilateral talks.

By ATSUSHI OKUDERA/ Correspondent
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Thick smog in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in January (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Thick smog in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in January (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Thick smog in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in January (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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