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Japan deploys robots to tackle beaches strewn with plastic waste

Garbage from other Asian countries piles up on sacred island's shores

Debris drifting onto beaches in the Genkainada Sea, northwest of Kyushu, has become a serious concern. (Photo by Shinya Sawai) 

FUKUOKA, Japan -- On a brisk day in mid-November, about 50 volunteers gathered to clean a beach on the southern island of Kyushu. It was roughly 60 km from Okinoshima island, a World Heritage site in the Genkainada Sea that is worshipped as a divine island.

Ocean currents funnel plastic waste and other garbage to this patch of sea. The beach was littered with plastic bottles and fishing nets. Many of the bottles had labels written in Chinese and Korean.

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