Japan and Kenya: Working Together to Avoid a Mercury Tragedy

Jul 29, 2019 | Gov, Japan, MariusC, News

Experts on Mercury IDEA testing from Dumpsite – Japan assisted consultants – Ministry of Environment and Forestry Kenya

Scientists and researchers from Japan and Kenya team up to build a sustainable, nationwide mercury monitoring program.

The Ministry of Environment of Japan has collaborated with the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) to help implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which is a MEA (Multilateral Environmental Agreement) designed to reduce global mercury pollution. The current Japan-led survey became possible thanks to the cooperation of the government of Kenya and participating scientists and researchers.

The World Health Organization currently lists mercury as one of the top ten chemicals that have become a major public health concern. People are commonly exposed to methymercury, which is an organic compound, through the consumption of fish and shellfish. It should be noted however, that methylmercury is different from ethylmercury, which is used to preserve some types of vaccines. Ethylmercury does not pose health risks.

Waste Incineration and Mercury

Speaking from the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Shinichi Honda from the Ministry of Environment of Japan stated that “a large part of anthropogenic mercury is emitted into the atmosphere, which affects global ecosystems.”

Global use of mercury

Global use of mercury | GRID Arendal

Furthermore, he believes that a substantial amount of mercury is released into the environment during the incineration of waste. The incineration of mercury-added products such as fluorescent lamps and discarded electronic parts poses a health risk to residents in surrounding areas.

The objective of the current survey is to help strengthen Kenya’s national capacity to monitor mercury nationally and to evaluate the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention on mercury.

The survey also aims to complete a capacity assessment, explores the current status and issues surrounding the monitoring of mercury in the country, and exhibit the latest mercury monitoring technologies. A report is forthcoming from the joint Japan-Kenya collaboration. The collaboration is made possible by the IDEA Consultants of Japan, PANAFCON Kenya Ltd., UPOPS officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the University of Nbi, and government chemists, among other participants.

Global Effort Needed

According to Dechen Tsering, UN Environment’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, “The dangerous effects of mercury on the environment and human health are now well documented, and the global community is acting to protect people and planet. Japan has long been an important leader on this issue, and this new contribution only serves to underline their commitment.”

The need for a more global effort for monitoring environmental mercury was affirmed by Tamami Umeda, the Director General for Environment Health Department of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan: “In the implementation of the Minamata Convention, we need effective and timely actions. We also need to bring wider stakeholders on board. With that in mind, Japan has launched the new project to enhance mercury monitoring as a basis for enhanced science-based policy-making in towards global mercury pollution.”

Preventing Another Mercury Tragedy

The name of the Multilateral Environmental Agreement is derived from the Minamata disease, also referred to as the Chisso-Minamata disease. This syndrome is caused by severe mercury poisoning.

The major effects of this condition include ataxia, numbness of the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, a narrow field of vision, and damaged hearing and speech. In its most severe form, Minamata disease can also lead to insanity, paralysis, coma, and death, only within weeks of the onset of its primary symptoms. Congenital Minamata disease can affect fetuses.

The disease was first discovered in Minamata City, Kumamoto prefecture, in Japan. The prevalence of the disease was caused by the release of methylmercury waste by the Chisso Corporation from 1932 to 1968. Bioaccumulation, or the progressive accumulation of mercury in living organisms, occurred in both Minamata Bay and the Shiranue Sea.

For 30 years, continuous animal and human deaths did little to convince the Chisso Corporation to do anything about the subsequent mercury poisoning that arose from its release of methylmercury into the environment. Litigation occurred however, which forced the corporation to pay a total of $86 million in compensation to victims of its irresponsible practices. Over 10,000 victims have received compensation, and 2,265 victims have been officially recognized. 1,784 of these official victims have already died.

Black Hair as a Symbol of Unity and Resistance

Why do older Chinese politicians sport jet black hair?

Must-Have Korean Staples in the Kitchen

If you really love Korean food, you will love these kitchen staples.

Hong Kong University Campus Turns Into Scorched Battleground

A modern city-centre campus disfigured by fire and strewn with debris, its windows smashed and graffiti covering the red-brick walls — a Hong Kong university has become the epicentre of the city’s nearly six-month crisis.

Asia’s Hidden Treasure

A Look at Asia’s Wondrous Treasury of Natural Resources in Asia

North Korea’s Food Crisis

Are punishing sanctions really the way to deal with the Hermit Regime?

Asia: Cute and Trendy Capsule Hotels are here To Stay

Surprising comfortable and high tech, capsule hotels are setting the trend for global travelers looking for a different kind of hotel experience in Asia.

Sales Boom for South Korea Drive-in Cinemas Amid Social Distance

A long queue of cars forms in front of a drive-in cinema in Seoul, as South Koreans look for safer spaces to enjoy a movie without the risk of contracting the coronavirus raging across the world.

Billionaire Cirque du Soleil Founder Detained for ‘Growing Cannabis’

The billionaire founder of global acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, has been detained in French Polynesia on suspicion of growing cannabis on his private island in the South Pacific, authorities said.

South Korean Bosses Could Face Prison Time Under New Anti-Bullying Laws

Could South Korea’s new anti-bullying laws finally discipline the country’s unruly and abusive chaebols?

Watch Out: Hazardous Fish and Mussels in Jakarta Bay

People have been advised to keep their distance from the poisonous seafood.

China: The Global Counterfeiting Capital

International brands suffer from huge losses yearly to both organized crime and Chinese manufacturers who don’t give two cents if they’re infringing on intellectual property rights.

teamLab SuperNature: An Interactive Experience with the Universe

The Venetian Casino in Macau is collaborating with teamLab to bring to people the beauty of nature in an immersive and fun perspective

Ajinomoto: The King of MSG Pushes Reputation Overhaul

Umami-bomb or toxic allergen? There are perhaps few condiments as controversial as MSG, but most scientists say it’s safe, and now a Japanese firm is trying to give it a reputation overhaul.

The Okinawa Purple Potato May be the Key to Living to 100

Ah, sweet potatoes. – one of the yummiest and most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. While the Okinawan purple sweet potato is harder to find and more expensive than its other counterparts, it’s something you should try at least once in your life.

Japan’s Offer of Two Masks Per Household Met with Anger and Mockery

A pledge by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to send two reusable cloth face masks to every household as the country battles the coronavirus outbreak has been met online with derision and humor.

Beijing Will Use Facial Recognition on Metro to Expedite ‘Whitelist’ Passengers

Beijing will use facial recognition tools to speed up security checks in the city’s overcrowded metro, using a ‘credit system’ to sort passengers into different channels, state-run media reported on Wednesday.

Japanese Tattoos: Revered Outside of Home, Hated Within

Take a step inside the controversial relationship Japan has with its tattoo culture

How Kim Kardashian Used Controversy To Her Advantage

Did Kim Kardashian-West really commit an innocent mistake, or was everything a clever move to trigger talk about Kimono Solutionwear?

Famous Coffee From Asia

From Robusta to Kopi Luwak, Asia truly has it all.

Scared but Desperate, Thai Sex Workers Forced to the Street

A shutdown to contain the coronavirus has killed Thailand’s party scene and forced sex workers like Pim out of bars and onto desolate streets. She’s scared but desperately needs customers to pay her rent.

Xiapu: The Most Beautiful Coastal Mud Flats for Photography Enthusiasts

It’s dawn in Xiapu county and sunrise over southeastern China is welcomed by dozens of clicking camera shutters.

Going SOFT, Going HARD: The Transforming of the Korean Man

What makes a Korean man, well, manly?

Recycled Products are the First Winners of Olympic 2020

The 2020 Olympics has declared that the Games are going to center on global sustainability with all its resources and infrastructure revolving around recycle products, green and clean methods that benefit the environment.

The Men Behind the Incredible Harbin’s Ice Festival

Liu Yantao and six co-workers start toiling on a frozen river in northeast China before dawn, using hand tools and machines to carve large ice blocks for an annual winter sculpture festival.

Tradition Turns to Art: The Vietnamese Bamboo Circus

The traveling Vietnamese circus turning cultural heritage into masterful performance that may rival with Cirque du Soleil

Danish Newspaper Angers China Over ‘Coronavirus’ Flag

A Danish newspaper refused to apologize to China on Tuesday over a satirical cartoon it ran about the deadly new virus that has killed dozens and infected thousands more.

18th Century Chinese Flask Sold for $4.6 Million at Auction

A Chinese porcelain gourd which once belonged to the 18th century Chinese Emperor Qianlong sold for 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) at auction on Saturday.

President Xi Lavished Praise on Macau for ‘Patriotism’

Chinese President Xi Jinping lavished praise on Macau Thursday for instilling patriotism and rejecting political strife, in stark contrast to his tough words for neighboring Hong Kong as it convulses with unrest.

The Unbanked in Asia

Southeast Asia alone has 650 million unbanked individuals. Despite improving connectivity, many countries in Asia still show large percentages of the ‘unbanked,’ or people who simply do not have ownership or access to traditional bank accounts.

Facts About Sumo and the Tough Path for a Foreign Wrestler in Japan

The quintessentially Japanese sport of sumo stops the country during the six big tournaments per year, with millions glued to the live action on TV.

Surfing in Fukushima 9 Years After Nuclear Accident

Every morning, come rain or shine, 64-year-old Koji Suzuki grabs his board and checks out the surf crashing onto the Fukushima coastline, some of the best rollers in Japan.

‘I Feel Nothing’: Virus-Stricken Wuhan Buries Its Dead

As China’s coronavirus epicenter Wuhan awakens from its long nightmare, formerly locked-down citizens are beginning to reemerge, but for many, their first outdoor act in more than two months is grim: burying loved ones.

Taiwan’s Horror Game Under Fire for Anti-China Message

The Taiwanese game faced controversy after gamers found a hidden message in the film which insulted Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Philippine Crackdown on Illegal Gaming Catered to China’s Gamblers

The Philippines said Friday it has detained hundreds of Chinese workers in a continuing crackdown against unlicensed online gaming businesses catering to mainland customers.

Singapore Restaurant with ‘Catch Me if You Can’ Live Crab Stunt Suspended

A Singapore restaurant Thursday suspended a bizarre promotional stunt where customers use an arcade-style machine with a mechanical claw to catch live crabs after it sparked uproar online.

Manners: The Big, Ugly Mirror of China

Are manners now dying in China, where economic competition and social statuses remain top priorities?

Asia: Love in the Age of Online Dating Apps

“Love capitalism” has dodged even the most dogged of cultural norms that stump even the locals.

Virus Sparks Boom for Local Farmers in Import-Dependent Hong Kong

After a coronavirus-fuelled wave of panic-buying briefly left Hong Kong’s supermarket shelves bare, residents are turning to local producers for fresh food in a city almost entirely reliant on imports.

China’s Easy Money: Borrowers are Drowning in Online Debt

Telecoms engineer Peng Jiezhao’s taste for new smartphones and expensive sneakers seemed like a harmless, if expensive, hobby – until he started borrowing money from Chinese online lending sites to feed it.

‘Tiger Widows’ Ostracized by Society in Bangladesh

Abandoned by her sons, shunned by her neighbors and branded a witch.

Game of Intimidation: The Challenges of Foreign Media in China

China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters this week over a headline that displeased Beijing highlights the precarious status of foreign journalists working in the country.

Creator says AI-Powered ‘Artificial Humans’ are Not Deepfakes

Avatars touted as “artificial humans” created a buzz Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show even as debate swirled on what exactly the digital entities were.

How Long Will this Last? Indian Kashmir Gone Offline Since August

In remote Indian Kashmir people have been offline since August, queuing for hours to pay bills or using government “internet kiosks”. As protests rage in other areas of India, it’s something people outside the Himalayan region are also getting a taste of.

In Photos: The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival 2020

China’s annual ice festival in Harbin has kicked off with couples lining up for a snow-themed mass wedding, swimmers braving frigid waters and frozen palaces rising from the ground.

Young Whale Found Dead in the Philippines with 40 Kilos of Plastic

A tale of heartbreak – a dead whale was found in the shores of the Philippines. Marine biologists are calling it the worst case of plastic ingestion.

Pandemic Pranks Off the Table on April Fools’ Day

It may be the global day for pranks but with the world under assault from the deadly coronavirus pandemic many governments on Wednesday were warning against virus-themed April Fools’ jokes — some even threatening jail.

No Reservations: Famed Jiro Restaurant Dropped From Michelin Stars

A famed Tokyo sushi restaurant where Barack Obama is said to have enjoyed the best sushi of his life has been dropped from the latest Michelin gourmet guide after it stopped accepting reservations from the general public.

Callisto: First Women eSports Startup Raised $500k

Women surely get things done. Callisto Gaming recently announced that is has garnered $500,000 in funding and wishes to close the seed round soon. Watch out for the rise of talented women gamers.

Flying Taxis Taking Flight over Singapore

A drone-like flying taxi whirred over Singapore’s waterfront Tuesday, with the firm behind the test hoping the aircraft will revolutionise travel in traffic-choked Asian cities.

Philippine Café Uses Coconut Leaves as Straws

In an effort to cut waste, a café in the Philippines has eliminated plastic straws and only uses biodegradable ones made from coconut leaves.