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Welcome Adress for POPs Workshop, September 25th, 2006 (2006年9月25日)

Kazuo Oike

 Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Kyoto University. I am very happy that Kyoto University has been selected as the site for The First Workshop on Reduction of Unintentional POPs in East Asian Countries. And it is my honor to have the opportunity to speak at this opening ceremony.

 Our ancestors appreciated the clear seasonal changes in Japan. Just a couple of days ago, we celebrated the autumn equinox as a national holiday. There is an old saying "Mild weather comes with the equinox". However, in Western Japan, the hot and humid weather usually continues until the end of September, especially in the Kyoto basin. This season gives way to the truly fine and clear autumn in October.

 Kyoto is a beautiful city with a proud history going back more than a thousand years. Kyoto's beauty and sophisticated culture has been brought about and maintained to this day by its rich natural environment. When you step outside the door and look around, you can see that Kyoto is surrounded by mountains. You can see that it is a basin. It is called "the Kyoto basin." A giant water reserve lies underneath the basin, and the amount of water in this reserve is said to be equal to the water of Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan. The world-famous culture of tea ceremony, sake, tofu, dried bean curds, Japanese-style confectionery, folding fans, and dyeing: all these were developed by using the abundant and fresh groundwater of the Kyoto basin. In recent years, its pure water has also supported the world-class high technology and biotechnology of Japan. Here at Kyoto University, we utilize this groundwater as much as we can.

 In addition to being a historical city of great natural beauty, Kyoto is the city in which the Kyoto Protocol on climate change prevention was issued in 2005, and "Kyoto" has become a new keyword. In the Kyoto Protocol, Japan pledged to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 6% below 1990 levels during the period 2008 to 2012. However, Kyoto City itself went further than this, and actively set the goal of reducing its own emissions by 10%. Kyoto University, as a member of the city, also has to put in serious efforts to help meet this target.

 There is a famous phrase, "Think globally, act locally." I follow this phrase with "Act on the Campus of Kyoto University", and we have begun to do what we can from the campus. We must recognize that the 21st century is the time when human beings are standing at a crossroads: we may or may not be able to survive the changes in the natural environment. We at Kyoto University will engage in the education and research necessary for the future of humanity. We will also keep our eyes wide open for every opportunity to send out appropriate information and expand its circle of influence.

 For that purpose, I have a saying, "Actions by our generation affect all generations". The challenge that all of you are taking on in trying to reduce persistent organic pollutants (POPs) fittingly brings this phrase to mind.

 Some chemicals among the objects of your research were used only in the past or are being used only in limited parts of the world. However, it is said that, due to the persistence and mobility of these chemicals, they may have adverse affects on human health and the environment in other countries and regions around the world over the coming years. This will also be a crucial problem for future generations.

 Unintentional POPs are substances that have not been manufactured intentionally but that are formed as byproducts in the process of combustion or chemical reactions. For this reason, they are considered to be more difficult to handle. We are now facing a difficult challenge, but please do your best to maintain a network of people who can make a contribution that reaches beyond the boundaries of countries and generations.

 In closing my welcome address, I hope that this workshop will bear full fruit and lead to the success of your efforts to reduce POPs in the future. I also hope that you will all have a chance to experience the fine culture of the Kyoto basin.

 Thank you very much.

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