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Ambassador Emanuel, Korean Ambassador Yun Duk-min, and Mayor Hitakatsu Naoki Lead Tsushima Beach Cleanup
December 3, 2023

Building on the momentum of August’s historic Camp David trilateral summit, and to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution and our shared obligation to the environment, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and Republic of Korea Ambassador to Japan Yun Duk-min visited Tsushima, an island located in between mainland Japan and the Korean peninsula, on December 3, 2023 and together with Tsushima Mayor Hitakatsu Naoki took part in a beach cleanup with the City of Tsushima and Japanese civil society partners.  This trilateral beach cleanup exemplifies the partnership between our three countries, which is based on a bedrock of shared values, mutual respect, and unified commitment to advance the prosperity of our three countries, the region, and the globe.  It also demonstrates concrete action that our three nations can take together.

At the beach cleanup on Kujika Beach in Tsushima, the two ambassadors worked alongside Mayor Hitakatsu and local residents and officials to pick up marine plastic waste.  Representatives from civil society organizations Tsushima CAPPA and the Kansai Association of Corporate Executives (Kansai Keizai Doyukai) explained their novel approach to create business value out of marine debris cleanup.  This innovative partnership between government, industry, and civil society could become a model for other coastal areas around the world beset by marine plastic pollution.

“Today’s cleanup is more than just a symbolic gesture; it’s a testament to our shared commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable innovation,” said Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Ambassador to Japan.  “By standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends in Japan and Korea, we’re cleaning up Tsushima’s beautiful shores and pioneering a model of cooperation that can inspire global efforts against marine pollution. This initiative reflects our deeper values of unity, respect for nature, and proactive engagement – values that define our trilateral partnership and our joint vision for a cleaner, more prosperous future.”

Echoing his U.S. counterpart, Ambassador Yun said, “The increasingly serious problem of marine waste is a common task for countries around the world that share the sea.

The three countries, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, which share values, should respond to various global issues together.

In that sense, today’s event is very meaningful.”

According to local officials, this is the first time foreign ambassadors have ever visited Tsushima.  Mayor Hitakatsu said, “On behalf of the citizens of Tsushima, I welcome the visit of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and South Korean Ambassador to Japan Yun Duk-min to Tsushima to gain first-hand experience in marine plastics and microplastics in order to focus attention on this global problem. I think this is indeed an initiative that will contribute to the ‘security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region’ that was confirmed at the Japan-U.S.-Korea summit at Camp David.”

The beach cleanup by the two ambassadors follows an initiative launched in October by U.S. Consulate Fukuoka and the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Fukuoka to support the Tsushima recycling model:  collecting and recycling marine plastic waste in a way that benefits local governments, local people, the private sector, and the environment.