Interregional exchange in high gear: motivation from a roundtable discussion on marine plastics and networking with Teuri Island

We at Hahajima Bukatsudo, a forum for discussion on the island of Hahajima, held an online exchange event with the island of Teshima, Kagawa Prefecture during the first half of the fiscal year. With the event ending on a high note we decided to set up more spaces for communication, implementing the "Roundtable on Marine Plastics" and "Teuri Island and Hahajima" interregional exchange initiatives, the latter a networking event with an island in Hokkaido.


Flyer for the roundtable discussion on Nov.13

At the Roundtable on Marine Plastics held on November 13, 2021, we organized a roundtable discussion with Masahiro Michishiro and Hideki Kimukai as our guests, to talk about the impact of recent global issues such as marine plastic pollution and microplastics. Michishiro is an underwater photographer who captures images from around the islands of Micronesia, while Kimukai is an expert on the marine plastic issue who operates out of Hawaii.


Hahajima is seeing an increase in plastic waste too. Although some residents run coastal cleanups, there are times we feel close to giving up hope, knowing there is no less waste regardless of how beautiful we make our beaches.

We will need to keep our efforts to solve this issue ongoing, passing the baton on to future generations. It is tough, however, and a sense of obligation alone is not enough to keep many from giving up. Instead, it appears that the best way to make sure these efforts continue is for everyone to work together, having fun as we tackle the problem.


Flyer for the roundtable discussion on Dec.14

Then on December 14, 2021 we networked with Teuri Island, a part of the municipality of Haboro, Hokkaido. Both our islands share a similar population with less than 500 people each, yet we were amazed at how proactive the people on Teuri Island are.

Teuri Island is famous for the one million seabirds that flock there each year. However, there was once a time when tourists would not visit the island except during seasons when these birds called it home. Then in 2012, inspired after touring Ama, an island town in Shimane Prefecture, Teuri Island's residents took action to begin doing what they could for their island themselves. They started up the Teuri Island Revitalization Association as a result.

Among other things, they developed their own products, made their high school more appealing and worked to protect their environment; rapidly putting their ideas into action without making the all-too-easy excuse that it could not be done. The people of Teuri Island taught us the importance of doing similar, and of continuing to involve those around us instead of trying to do things alone.


While limited in our ability to communicate face-to-face this fiscal year, we can say that networking with other regions was rejuvenating for the soul. We look to the people all over, in regions from the north to the south, who continue working hard and devising new ideas to better their communities. Using their efforts as a guide, we will keep making progress with our own work here on Hahajima too.