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Environment ministers of S. Korea, China, Japan set for talks

Environment ministers of South Korea, China and Japan were set to hold three-way talks here later this week to jointly address sand storms, smog, maritime pollution and other environmental issues, South Korean officials said Wednesday.
  

South Korean Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu and his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Chen Jining and Yoshio Mochizuki, will meet in Shanghai on Thursday.
  

Ahead of the trilateral meeting, the ministers of South Korea and Japan held bilateral talks on Wednesday.

  

Citizens wear masks while walking around Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul in February, during which the country reported high levels of ultrafine dust. (Yonhap)
Citizens wear masks while walking around Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul in February, during which the country reported high levels of ultrafine dust. (Yonhap)

"Japan and Korea have made good achievements in bilateral cooperation of environmental issues, including air pollution," Mochizuki told Yoon in his opening remarks.
  

Mochizuki said Japan will raise four issues, including how to tackle smog and maritime pollution, during the bilateral talks with South Korea.
  

Despite mutual tensions over shared history, South Korea, China and Japan have held the annual meeting of their environmental ministers since 1999.
  

China did not send its environmental minister to the three-way talks in 2013 and 2014, when bilateral relations with Japan further deteriorated amid a simmering row over the sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea.
  

In a sign of easing mutual diplomatic tensions, the foreign ministers of the three nations held their first trilateral talks in three years in March.
  

Among the areas of cooperation to be discussed this week are a technological cooperation to reduce smog in China and to improve the accuracy of forecasts of "yellow dust" sand storms blowing from China's Gobi Desert across the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
  

After three decades of rapid industrialization, China regularly sees hazardous air pollution with levels of particulate matter rising to nearly 40 times the limits set by the World Health Organization during the winter months.
  

The levels of air pollution in South Korea have also been jumping during the winter months, as westerly winds carry the smog from China to the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)

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