and middle school students from all over Japan got together in Okinawa
in May to discuss how to preserve the global environment, ahead of the
Group of Eight meeting of world leaders in Okinawa in July.
A panel discussion on the theme
global environment in the twenty-first century was held by 84 delegates
from all 47 prefectures in Japan. They shared their experiences with
environmental issues and visited mangrove forests in subtropical Okinawa.
A sixth grader from the host prefecture
reported that even in Okinawa, where the natural environment is in relatively
good shape, development projects have caused clay to wash into the sea
after heavy rainfall, damaging precious coral reefs.
Another Okinawa delegate said he
makes an effort not to use paper tissues or disposable chopsticks. He
was greeted with applause when he said: "We can solve the environmental
problems of today if all of us do our own share."
A middle school representative from
Mie Prefecture told the meeting that he and his friends were able to
persuade their town's mayor to turn a dam clean-up campaign, initiated
by kids, into a townwide project. "Children can move adults," he stressed.
declaration was adopted at the meeting citing the things kids can do
to help conserve the environment, such as not wasting limited resources
and recycling as much as possible. The declaration was submitted to
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who will chair the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit
in July. He promised to convey their message to the G8 leaders.
At a mangrove forest near the mouth
of Gesashi River, local middle school students explained their activities
to preserve the habitats of fish and other living creatures. One visitor
was shocked to find empty cans abandoned among the mangroves.
The visitors also went to a beach
in the city of Nago to watch young hawksbill turtles, hatched by pupils
at Kayo Elementary School, return to the sea. They were told many sea
turtles die after eating plastic, mistaking it for jellyfish.
Photos (from top): An Okinawan student presents a report;
summit participants check out a mangrove forest. (Asahi Shogakusei