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Japanese High School Students present Certificate of Appreciation to Marines

By Ike Hirayasu | Marine Corps Installations Pacific | December 2, 2019


Several high school students from mainland Japan, who are studying plastic pollution problem in the ocean, visited Camp Schwab Nov. 24.

According to Dr. Hiroko Tsunoda, a chairman of Nippon Foundation Sea and Japan Project, they came to Camp Schwab because students learned through the social media about how U.S. Marines regularly cleanup beaches in Okinawa, wanted to present a certificate of appreciation to the Marines, and then possible go out for a beach cleanup together.

“High school students from 47 prefectures of Japan gathered at the National Diet Building this summer and had heated discussions about marine plastic waste,” explained Dr. Tsunoda.

The students were visiting Okinawa to attend a seminar at GODAC, Global Oceanographic Data Center, and had some spare time to visit Camp Schwab to meet Marines.

The students and members of Camp Schwab’s Single Marine Program moved to Henoko beach for cleanup.

“It will lead to my dreams in the future,” said a senior high school student from Hyogo prefecture. “Marine plastics are problem today, so I could reduce some burden by joining this group.”

They gathered over 10 bags of plastic bottles and other debris that had drifted to the beach in an hour of work.

“I live by the water and realize that the sea is more polluted than ever. I know plastic waste is increasing,” said a senior high school student from Fukushima prefecture. “I thought, if high school students across Japan address the problems we may be able to do something about it, so I joined.”

After the beach cleanup, the students presented a certificate of appreciation to U.S. Marines who regularly participate in beach cleanups in Okinawa.

“Every time we go out for beach cleanups, there are a lot of debris and that is why beach cleanup is necessary,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Filberto Noriega, Religious Program Specialist with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, who received a certificate of appreciation for on behalf of his battalion.

The project will learn about the current state of marine plastic pollution throughout the year and will hold a conference in Tokyo next February.