Sci-Tech | Feb 28

Planting Anti-Allergy Cedar in Japan

Toyama, Feb 28 (News On Japan) - As Japan enters peak pollen season, the battle against cedar pollen allergies intensifies, with questions remaining on the effectiveness of re-planting forests with pollen-free trees.

Tokyo confirmed the start of the cedar pollen season on February 9th, a day earlier than last year and six days ahead of the average.

Dr. Yoneyuki Ito of Miyauchi Train Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic has noted a surge in patients, predominantly affected by cedar pollen, with about 70% also suffering from cypress pollen allergies. Pollen allergies trigger exaggerated immune responses in the body, leading to allergic reactions when individual tolerance levels are exceeded.

A long-time allergy sufferer in their 40s likened the condition to pollution, affecting eyes, throat, ears, and skin. A newcomer to pollen allergies in their 20s expressed a desire for measures to prevent pollen dispersion.

Prime Minister Kishida aims to halve cedar pollen by 2050, with a goal to reduce artificial cedar forests by 20% within a decade. This includes promoting the planting of low-pollen varieties.

Leading the charge against pollen is Toyama Prefecture, where efforts to mass-produce pollen-free cedar through cutting technology have been successful. Toyama is unique in producing all new cedar saplings as pollen-free.

In 1992, a pollen-free cedar was discovered at a shrine in the prefecture, leading to the development of high-quality, pollen-free cedar wood. The process from discovery to commercialization took 20 years, gaining attention when the then Emperor planted one of these trees seven years ago. His subsequent poem reflecting concern for pollen allergy sufferers marked a turning point in allergy mitigation efforts.

Toyama has been replacing pollen-producing cedars with pollen-free varieties for the past 12 years, but only about 1% of cedar forests have been converted so far. The government aims to have 90% of saplings be low-pollen cedars within a decade, but currently, only 50% meet this criterion. Production methods have been a bottleneck, with traditional seed breeding resulting in a 50% loss due to pollen-bearing saplings. However, cutting technology allows for 100% pollen-free sapling production. Seedlings take three years to reach marketable size, while cuttings can be sold as saplings within a year. Toyama's shift to cutting technology aims to increase production from 100,000 to over 200,000 saplings annually.


The Japan government's 'Volcano Research and Investigation Headquarters' was inaugurated on April 1st, with a ceremony marking the start of its mission to centralize the observation and research of volcanoes, aiming to enhance disaster prevention measures.

At an event dedicated to the wildlife of Yodo River, a rare Japanese eel was revealed to the public for the first time.

JAXA has announced the revival of the unmanned explorer "SLIM" following its successful hibernation after making Japan's first moon landing. The probe successfully endured a second lunar night, a period during which temperatures can drop to as low as minus 170 degrees Celsius.


Four men have been arrested by Tokyo police for allegedly recruiting women for prostitution in the United States via a website, promising encounters with affluent clients and high earnings.

For the first time in 73 years, Japan has unveiled a newly constructed whaling mother ship, equipped with drone technology for whaling operations in the Antarctic Sea.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Nara Prefecture has disciplined its former Youth Division Chief following a controversial dance party incident.

Residents of Japan's oldest student dormitory, self-managed for over 100 years, are digging in as Kyoto University attempts to evict them from the premises.

A Japan Airlines flight en route from Melbourne to Narita Airport encountered sudden severe turbulence on April 1, causing injuries to several cabin crew, including a broken leg.