When a massive tsunami swept over the Japanese coast in March, 2011, over 1.5 million tonnes of debris were carried out to sea. It has started washing ashore in Canada and the US with the bulk expected this fall. Now Japan is offering to help clean it up.
Nikkei.com is reporting that Japanese officials plan to tell Canada and the US about its offer to help foot the bill for the cleanup, later this month. Under international law Japan has no obligation to take care of the trash that resulted from the natural disaster. The Japan Daily Press says even though it is "ironic and mocking Japan’s pain," the country "looks at its efforts in the cleanup operations as a way of expressing appreciation for all the international support that poured in at their hour of need."
CBC explains, the Kuroshio ocean current runs from Japan's east coast to North America's west coast, passing Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. And already beaches there have begun to resemble landfill sites because of the huge amount of debris washing ashore.
Most of the debris consists of small items, like household goods that were carried out by the tidal wave, but an unmanned Japanese fishing boat had to be sunk by the US Coast Guard earlier this year because it couldn't be salvaged.
A Japanese fishing boat that was lost at sea after the 2011 tsunami has been found off the coast of B.C.
Handout, Department of National Defense
And in June, a 20-metre-long steel and concrete dock from a northern Japanese fishing port washed up on Agate Beach in Oregon. That discovery raised alarm bells, not because of the large piece of debris but because some 90 marine species from Japan had hitched a ride on the dock, everything from wakame seaweed to crabs, oysters, and sea anemones that are indigenous to Japan but are considered invasive species that could affect the North American eco-system.
The bulk of the debris is expected to arrive along the Pacific coast in October continuing until February of next year.
So far there has been no estimate on the cost of cleaning up the mess.