TOKYO -- Japan has offered to lend China a hand with President Xi Jinping's "toilet revolution."
Beijing has launched a campaign to improve sanitary conditions in the country's toilets, and Tokyo hopes that providing assistance can in some way improve diplomatic relations with its neighbor. The two countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of their bilateral peace and friendship treaty this year.
Efforts are being led by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The three government departments have sought ideas from private companies such as toilet maker Toto, while the Japan's embassy in Beijing has been in discussions with the Chinese government regarding the project. A group of researchers will soon be sent to the countryside to conduct studies and ascertain local needs.
Specifically, Japan plans to offer technological help to improve facilities in rural areas and educate locals about sanitation. Most public toilets in China are not equipped with flush mechanisms and many in the countryside have no cubicles. Contaminated groundwater can often pose a severe health risk.
Japan has offered similar assistance in India and emerging countries in Southeast Asia. In China, it plans to provide flush toilets and facilities that use recycled water, as well as maintenance training.
In December, Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, visited China and officially declared Japan's support for Xi's toilet revolution.
This is Japan's first state-led assistance project in China for some time. China is no longer on the list of countries to which Tokyo provides official development assistance.