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January 1997

Asian Children Discuss Ecological Issues

Over 40 children from nine Asian countries gathered in Niigata Prefecture between November 2 through 4 to describe the steps being taken in their respective countries to protect the natural environment.

The Junior Eco-Club Asia Conference was held under the auspices of Japan's Environment Agency and the Niigata prefectural government. Participating youths, aged 10 to 17, came from China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

A 12-year-old from Malaysia explained the kinds of efforts that are being made to save the orangutan--a national mascot--from being driven to extinction, while a 10-year-old Nepalese representative called on people all over the world to work together for the sake of our mother earth. Japanese kids appealed for greater recycling and conservation through songs and quizzes.

The leaders of tomorrow who gathered at the conference committed themselves to working diligently for the environment by issuing a statement at the end of the three-day conference.

The Niigata meeting was the first international gathering of the Junior Eco-Club since the environment group for kids was established last year in Japan. Approximately 36,000 children belonging to nearly 2,500 groups are involved in the club's activities throughout the country.

Club members are encouraged to engage in such ecological activities as recycling and researching of the local ecosystem. Their activities are supported by local governments and the Environment Agency.

Photos: Japanese students make their presentation (top); conference participants from overseas (above). (Mainichi Shogakusei Shimbun Newspapers)