A whaling ship leaves Shimonoseki Port in Yamaguchi Prefecture for the Antarctic Ocean in 2013. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan plans new Antarctic whale hunt, but vows to slash quota
Japan on Nov. 18 unveiled plans to resume whale hunting in the Southern Ocean despite an international court ruling that previous hunts were illegal, but said it would slash the quota for the so-called scientific whaling program.
A new biofuel made by a research team at Mie University uses damaged or rotting oranges. (Provided by a team of researchers at Mie University)
Mie University researchers convert discarded oranges into 'juiced-up' biofuel
TSU, Mie Prefecture--Scientists at Mie University here have developed a biofuel from unmarketable oranges and waste left over after making orange juice that may put the squeeze on existing bioethanol as a more efficient and less-corrosive fuel blend.
The venomous redback spider is indigenous to Australia. (Provided by the land ministry)
Japan targets 424 dangerous invasive species for elimination
Venomous redback spiders are among 424 nonnative species targeted for extermination in Japan under a planned new designation for alien threats against indigenous species and human health.
Swans take flight from Lake Hyoko in Agano, Niigata Prefecture, on the morning of Nov. 6. (Yasuhiro Sugimoto)
PHOTO: Niigata swan lake show heralds onset of winter
AGANO, Niigata Prefecture--Amid a drop in temperatures indicating the arrival of winter, a bevy of swans was seen splashing on a lake here in the morning mist on Nov. 6.
Rental bicycles at JR Omiya Station in Saitama. Bicycles are transported by truck to adjust the number at each outlet. (Teru Okumura)
Getting around on two wheels: Good for the environment, good for health
SAITAMA--Pedal power is winning cohorts as "community cycle" programs spread across Japan, leaving no carbon footprint.
A loggerhead sea turtle (Provided by the Sea Turtle Association of Japan)
Ministry stepping in as concerns mount over animals feeding on sea turtle eggs
Environment Ministry officials will launch a nationwide study to look into disturbing reports of animals such as wild boars and raccoon dogs eating the buried eggs of endangered sea turtles.
A dead tree 14 meters below the surface in Lake Mashuko is estimated to have remained there for more than three decades. The amount of bacteria in the lake is so small that the breakdown process has not proceeded. (Kotaro Ebara)
Global warming, alien fish staining Japan's clearest lake
TESHIKAGA, Hokkaido--Lake Mashuko had long been a source of pride in this industrialized nation as the clearest and cleanest lake in the world. But the effects of global warming and an alien species have clouded that distinction, researchers said.
Solar panels installed on the roof of a church in Setagaya Ward by Setagaya Energy for All, a citizen-generated power group in Tokyo (Toru Ishii)
Tokyo in the spotlight as citizen groups start generating solar power
In the new world of alternative energy sources, Tokyo is about to have its day in the sun.
Farmers harvest Japanese eels from an aquaculture pond in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Yosuke Watanabe)
Japan, China, Taiwan, S. Korea agree to cut eel procurement by 20%
Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea have agreed to set limits on the amount of glass eels that can be procured by eel farmers to prevent overfishing of the fry eels, which are used in eel farming.
“Okawariginchaku” sea anemones spread their tentacles on the seafloor off Minabe, Wakayama Prefecture. (Yoshiko Sato)
Cute sea anemones that glow in yellow decreasing sharply off Wakayama
MINABE, Wakayama Prefecture--Popular among divers, an extremely rare sea anemone species that emits a glowing yellow light is rapidly disappearing off the coast here, forcing the government to consider protection measures.
A young golden eagle with one of its parents in the Kamuro Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture (Provided by Tadashi Imai)
Decline in forestry industry blamed for falling survival rates of golden eagles
AKITA--The survival rate of Japanese golden eagle chicks has been halved over the past 30 years because the forestry industry’s decline has affected the hunting grounds of the endangered species, environmental experts say.
Members of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society hoist a banner and observe fishing boats at Taiji port in Wakayama Prefecture on Aug. 1. (Yummin Son)
Tensions running high as annual dolphin hunt starts in Taiji
TAIJI, Wakayama Prefecture--This coastal community’s annual dolphin hunt kicked off Sept. 1, and foreign anti-whaling activists were out in force to protest the slaughter as dozens of police officers stood by to keep the peace.
Stalagmites containing coral fragments in a limestone cave on Nagashima island in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture (Satoru Sekiguchi)
Rare coral-encrusted stalagmites discovered near proposed air base relocation site
NAGO, Okinawa Prefecture--Researchers have found rare stalagmites containing coral fragments in a cave off Cape Henoko, where the government plans to relocate an air base from another part of this southernmost prefecture.
Crown-of-thorns starfish prey on corals in waters off Kushima, Miyazaki Prefecture. (Provided by Hironobu Fukami)
Pesky starfish that preys on corals gets new life as veggie fertilizer
KUSHIMA, Miyazaki Prefecture--In the waters off the Nichinan coast in southern Kyushu, the crown-of-thorns starfish has become an unwelcome pest.
The Asahi Shimbun
Global warming blamed for shrinking Ayu trout
Master angler Jiro Shirataki is puzzled that the average size of his catches of tasty "ayu" trout have become “noticeably smaller than before.”
A new species of a pennellid that lives as a parasite on the head of a goby fish was collected in Oura Bay. (Provided by Diving Team Snack Snufkin)
Relocation of Futenma airbase could wipe out bay full of unknown species
Researchers are raising new alarms about the ecological threat posed by land reclamation work planned for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture in a bay where 10 new species have been discovered since 2007.
The Asahi Shimbun
Survey: 80% of municipalities eager to promote renewable energy
About 80 percent of municipal governments across Japan are keen to promote renewable energies in the hope that the new energy sources, technology and sales revenue will help revitalize regional development, a survey shows.
Dozens of coral larvae have settled on mortar blocks and grown to a maximum 4 centimeters in Taisei Corp.'s trial coral reef restoration off Miyakojima island in Okinawa Prefecture. (Provided by Taisei Corp.)
Undersea tunnel construction technique helps restore coral reefs
As coral reefs continue to fall victim to global warming, a major Japanese construction company is working to restore these endangered ecosystems using underwater tunnel building technology.
Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto raises the gavel at the close of the 10th meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya on Oct. 30, 2010. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Nagoya Protocol to take effect in October, but Japan has yet to ratify it
The Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources will take effect in October, but without the participation of Japan--even though it spearheaded the initiative.
A dugong swimming 5 to 6 kilometers off Cape Henoko in Nago, northern Okinawa Prefecture, in 2010. The photo was taken from a helicopter. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
More evidence for endangered dugongs found at planned Okinawa base relocation site
A leading environmental group has found extensive evidence that endangered dugongs inhabit waters close to the planned relocation site of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

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