A male short-tailed albatross watches over its offspring on Mukojima island. (Photo taken by the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology and provided by the Tokyo metropolitan government)
First rare albatross chick born on Mukojima island
Government-led efforts to protect the short-tailed albatross, an endangered North Pacific seabird, seem to be paying off.
People wear masks to protect against air pollution in Beijing on Dec. 8 when the smog "red alert" was issued for the first time. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
China warns of widespread smog, Beijing issues second ‘red alert’
BEIJING--China warned residents across a large part of its north on Dec. 18 to prepare for a wave of choking smog arriving over the weekend, the worst of which is expected over Beijing, prompting the capital to issue its second ever "red alert."
The Naeba ski resort in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, had to rely on artificial snow for its Dec. 12 opening. (Takeshi Tokitsu)
East Japan ski resorts at the mercy of El Nino
The El Nino effect is playing havoc with ski resorts across eastern Japan and threatening to disrupt operations during the critical New Year holiday period.
A Blakiston's fish owl feeds on a Yamame trout it just caught from a small pool within the Chitoraigawa river in Rausu, Hokkaido, on Nov. 1. (Masafumi Kamimura)
Giving a hoot about an endangered owl in Hokkaido
RAUSU, Hokkaido--Just past sundown on a stretch of river dimly lit by lamps, a rare owl suddenly swoops out of the darkness and glides down to a rock in the water. A family, watching from nearby, whoops with delight.
A woman wearing a face mask to protect herself from pollutants walks past office buildings shrouded with pollution haze in Beijingon Dec. 7. (AP Photo)
Beijing issues 1st smog red alert, urging schools to close
BEIJING--Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for smog on Dec. 7, urging schools to close and invoking restrictions on factories and traffic that will keep half of the city's vehicles off the roads.
Cyclists wear masks to protect against pollution in Beijing on Dec. 1. (AP Photo)
Beijing air pollution reaches hazardous levels
BEIJING--Schools in the Chinese capital kept students indoors and parents brought their kids to hospitals with breathing ailments on Dec. 1 as Beijing grappled with extremely severe air pollution for the fifth straight day.
A Japanese government representative speaks at a U.N. conference on climate change in Bonn in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan plans $10.6 billion in climate finance for developing nations for 2020
Gearing up for global warming talks in Paris next week, Japan said Nov. 26 it plans to provide 1.3 trillion yen ($10.6 billion) in climate financing a year for developing countries from 2020, including public and private funds.
Sweetfish spawn in 2012 in the Tamagawa river near Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward. (Provided by Ken Tsurusaki)
13 years in the making, photo book shows creatures thriving in Tokyo waterway
Wearing a dry suit and using a snorkel, photographer Ken Tsurusaki once remained on his stomach on the river surface for four to five hours just to get that perfect shot.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with French President Francois Hollande in Beijing on Nov. 2 (The Asahi Shimbun)
China, France seek five-year reviews of planned U.N. climate deal
BEIJING--China and France agreed on Nov. 2 to push for long-term monitoring of a U.N. accord to combat climate change due in Paris next month by reviewing cuts in greenhouse gas emissions every five years.
A Mirai fuel cell vehicle marketed by Toyota Motor Corp. in late 2014 (The Asahi Shimbun)
Toyota steers toward eliminating most gasoline cars off roads by 2050
Toyota Motor Corp., under ambitious environmental targets, is aiming to sell hardly any regular gasoline vehicles by 2050, only hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, to radically reduce emissions.
An Indian man cleans solar panels on a rooftop in Ahmadabad, India, on Oct. 1. India is pledging to reduce the intensity of its carbon emissions and increase the share of electricity produced from sources other than fossil fuels to 40 percent by 2030. (AP Photo)
India vows to cut carbon intensity in Paris pledge
NEW DELHI--As the last major economy to submit a target for a global climate pact, India is pledging to reduce the intensity of its carbon emissions and boost the share of electricity produced from sources other than fossil fuels to 40 percent by 2030.
Harbor seals rest on rocks off the coast of Cape Erimo in Hokkaido. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Harbor seals no longer 'threatened' species in Japan
Harbor seals have recovered their population and are back annoying fishermen--leading to the mammals being lowered from "vulnerable" to "near threatened" on the Japanese Red List of threatened species.
Bluefin tuna are lined up at a fish market in the Showa-machi district of Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, in May. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Pacific bluefin tuna fishing faces ban if population plummets
SAPPORO--Japan has agreed with four nations and Taiwan to ban fishing of the threatened Pacific bluefin tuna if its population nose-dives.
Oriental storks are artificially bred at the “storks park” facility in Yesan county, South Chungcheong province. (Provided by the Korea National University of Education)
Project to restore oriental storks in South Korea takes flight with Japan's help
TOYOOKA, Hyogo Prefecture--With the assistance of Japanese experts here, researchers in South Korea are set to release pairs of oriental white storks into the wild as part of efforts to revive a species that became extinct locally over four decades ago.
The Sunny Solar Fukushima Central Plant in Sukagawa, central Fukushima Prefecture, is built on a closed golf course. (Satoru Semba)
PHOTO: Going green on the golf course
SUKAGAWA, Fukushima Prefecture--The fairways are gone and in their place are now 105,000 gleaming solar panels.
A charging station for electric vehicles at the Seven & i group's Ario shopping center in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture (Provided by Seven & i Holdings Co.)
Seven & i Holdings to set up 3,380 EV chargers at supermarkets, shopping centers
Seven & i Holdings Co. will install 3,380 charging stations for electric vehicles at 45 of its retail locations across the nation, including the Ito-Yokado supermarkets.
The Asahi Shimbun
Ministry to allow drilling in national parks to gain geothermal power
The Environment Ministry said it will lift restrictions on drilling operations underneath national parks and quasi-national parks to make 70 percent of geothermal energy reserves in Japan available for development.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a meeting of the Global Warming Prevention Headquarters in Tokyo in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan sets 26% cut in greenhouse gas emissions as target
The government said on July 17 it would slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels and submitted the plan to the United Nations later in the day as its contribution to a global summit on climate change in Paris in November.
Yurine Abe, 9, and her brother, Maoto, 7, from Saitama Prefecture run in the Kasai Kaihin Koen beach park in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward on July 11. (Tetsuro Takehana)
After cleanup, Tokyo to temporarily lift head-dunking ban at beach
Long considered cesspools with enough water pollution to cause serious health problems, beaches in central Tokyo are being restored partly through the cleanup efforts of nonprofit organizations.
Taisei Corp. develops an energy-saving building in Yokohama that can operate only on solar power. (Yuji Shimoyama)
Taisei develops eco-friendly, ‘self-sufficient’ building
General contractor Taisei Corp. said it has created a three-story building that supplies all of its energy needs through solar power and significantly cuts down on wasted electricity.

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