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JERA Yokosuka Thermal Power Station  Beach Clean Project December 2023 @ Kurihama Coast, Yokosuka City

On December 10, 2023, JERA conducted a beach clean event in Kurihama, Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The event brought together not only JERA employees, including those from the Yokosuka Thermal Power Station, but also volunteers from NPO Umisakura, Kurihama neighborhood association, residents of Yokosuka City, and even players from the YOKOHAMA DeNA BAYSTARS, a Japanese professional baseball team. Together, they collaborated to clean up the litter along Kurihama Coast.

Because we want our working and living city to stay beautiful forever

JERA, Japan's largest thermal power generation company, generates about 30% of the country's domestic electricity. With 26 thermal power plants nationwide, one of them is the "Yokosuka Thermal Power Station" located in Yokosuka City. The Yokosuka Thermal Power Station is a state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant newly established in June 2023 after replacement construction, contributing to the stable supply of electricity and supporting our daily lives.
The power station is located close to urban areas, has deep connections with the local community both historically and geographically. It has aimed to be a "power station trusted and loved by the community." Each power plant employee has valued interactions with the local community.

This time, JERA planned a beach clean event at "Kurihama Coast," near the power station, with the desire to "clean our working and living town with our own hands" and contribute to creating a continually clean town. The Kurihama town association members, who resonated with this idea, also participated.
Furthermore, consulting with the NPO organization "Umisakura," which has been engaged in beach clean activities mainly in the Enoshima area, since 2005, revealed the possibility of cooperation from the people of Yokosuka City.
Additionally, Nagi Murakawa and Teruki Yoshino, baseball players from the YOKOHAMA DeNA BAYSTARS are also participated to the project.
The DeNA BAYSTARS is a professional baseball team in the Central League sponsored by JERA as the title partner, and with the farm facility located within Yokosuka City.
With the gathering of people who care about Kurihama, a cleanup activity at Kurihama Coast with a view of the Yokosuka Thermal Power Station became a reality!

Kurihama is a port town facing Tokyo Bay, and Kurihama Coast, in particular, is famous for being the place where Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry of the United States Navy landed in 1853, to end Japan’s isolationism and seeking Japan's opening to the world. Many employees of the power station commute while seeing Kurihama Coast every day, and each of them shared their thoughts.

"During my morning commute, the Kurihama sea sparkles, reflecting the sunlight. It's incredibly beautiful."
"Kurihama Coast is an important place in Japan's history. I wanted it to stay beautiful, so I participated in this beach cleanup."

Hidden in the seemingly clean sandy beach, microscopic plastic waste

At 8:45 in the morning, participants began to gather as the meeting time approached. The number of participants was around 70! Despite entering December, we had anticipated a cold beach activity, but surprisingly, the day was as warm as late October. With the enthusiasm of everyone caring for the community, the winter chill was blown away

During the opening ceremony, Shigehiro Matsuda, General Manager of Yokosuka Thermal Power Station, Nagi Murakawa and Teruki Yoshino from the DeNA BAYSTARS, and Junichiro Furusawa, the representative of Umisakura, delivered greetings.

"We are delighted to have so many people gather today. Let's make the beautiful Kurihama Coast even cleaner today!" (Mr. Matsuda)
"I rarely get the opportunity to work with everyone like this, so I'm really looking forward to today! It's a short time, but I hope to interact with everyone a lot!" (Mr. Murakawa and Mr. Yoshino)
"I came here with the full power of my heart to make Kurihama Coast as clean as possible! Thank you all for today!" (Mr. Furusawa)

In this beach cleanup initiative, not only garbage bags and tongs were provided as tools but also a sieve. The sieve is used to sift sand and discover "microplastics" that have washed ashore.

Microplastics refer to extremely small plastic particles with a diameter of 5mm or less. They are primarily formed when illegally discarded plastic products undergo gradual degradation from exposure to ultraviolet rays and the elements, resulting in finely fragmented pieces. While microplastics eventually flow into the sea, many are carried back to the sandy shores by waves. According to WWF Japan, the world's oceans have accumulated a staggering 150 million tons of plastic waste, with an additional 8 million tons entering the sea annually.

Plastics do not naturally decompose, and especially with small microplastics, they are not easily recognizable at first glance. Therefore, methods like using a sieve are essential for diligent and systematic collection. Junichiro Furusawa, the representative of Umisakura, emphasizes, "Much of the ocean's garbage actually comes from the city. While it is important to collect sea garbage, the fundamental solution lies in reducing and properly collecting garbage from the cities."

The Continued Commitment to Enjoyable Garbage Collection

The sandy shores of Kurihama Beach, as well as the surrounding towns, are filled with individuals diligently participating in garbage collection. When asked not to disturb, they shared various thoughts:

"I often participate in volunteer beach cleanups. Keeping the town clean is important, but it's also enjoyable as a place for various interactions with people."
"I thought it was seaweed, but upon closer inspection, there was a plastic bag tangled in it! This is also plastic waste, isn't it?"
"I come to this beach for walks regularly, so I wanted to contribute to making the sandy beach beautiful. I didn't pay much attention before, but there are even cigarette butts when you look closely."

Additionally, when asked if they were familiar with the company JERA, a mother in a participating family said, "I knew about the Yokosuka Thermal Power Station, but I heard the name JERA for the first time this time." However, the child surprised everyone by saying, "I knew it! I've seen it in a TV commercial!" Children seem to pay attention to things that adults might overlook.

When talking to JERA employees, they expressed, "Participating in a cleanup activity with local residents for the first time is enjoyable! Of course, we're picking up trash properly too (laughs)." "When the company plans such initiatives, it makes it easy to participate. I hope they continue this in the future!" They were enjoying communication with local residents through beach cleanup.

Furthermore, Mr. Matsuda, said, "The Yokosuka Thermal Power Station was established in 1960. The address is 'Kurihama 9-chome.' In other words, those of us working there are also members of the Kurihama community. Through this beach cleanup, I had the opportunity to interact with many people, and I became aware of it once again. To remain a power station trusted and loved by everyone, I want to actively engage in activities for the community in the future," he said with a smile.

After about an hour of activity, thanks to everyone, a significant amount of garbage was collected. The expressions of participants wiping the sweat off their foreheads sparkled, enjoying the unexpectedly good weather. The interaction between participants deepened, and after the closing ceremony, everyone took a commemorative photo together! Thank you to everyone for the best smiles until the end!

Reflecting on this initiative, Mr. Furusawa said, "I was genuinely happy when JERA first approached us. The reason being, they didn't just ask us to pick up trash; they said JERA would also pick up trash together. Since garbage continues to flow, it's crucial to continue the cleanup, and the key to continuity is for everyone, not just one company or organization, to collaborate and engage while enjoying it. I would be delighted if we could continue the cleanup activities together with JERA in the future."

With 26 thermal power plants nationwide, including the Yokosuka Thermal Power Station, the sentiment of being "a member of the local community" is the same at every power plant.

"There's something comforting about the towns where JERA is present."

With that thought in mind, JERA aims to contribute to local communities and continue being a partner supporting the rich lives of everyone.