Open Letter of Inquiry on Artificial Turf
20 March 2023
Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Office of Education
To: Kayoko Hama, Superintendent of Education
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)
Co-Chairperson: Azuchi Kameyama
Co-Chairperson Miyoko Sasaki
Co-Chairman Martin Frid
Open letter of inquiry regarding artificial turf
We are a consumer organization working for safe and secure living.
We understand that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is “promoting the turfing of schoolyards and other areas in all public elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo to further enhance the educational environment,” and recently we often see schoolyards with artificial turf instead of natural grass. However, in recent years, plastic pollution has become increasingly serious, and efforts to reduce the use of plastic are being made around the world. Artificial turf, in particular, is the most common microplastic found in rivers.
Professor Hiroshi Okochi of Waseda University has pointed out that artificial turf may also contribute to microplastic pollution in the atmosphere.
Therefore, we would like to ask the following questions, and would appreciate it if you could answer them by April 20. Your answers will be posted on the organization’s website.
Please explain in detail the main purpose of the schoolyard turfing project. Do you think artificial turf is effective in achieving these objectives? For example, do you think that artificial turf is not appropriate as a place for children to connect with nature?
CUJ heard that the schoolyard turfing project was originally part of the “Green Tokyo 10 Year Project” and was intended to counteract the heat island effect. Will artificial turf work as a heat island countermeasure?
Artificial turf will eventually deteriorate and will need to be replaced. The artificial turf cannot be burned or recycled as it is, and most of it is land filled at final disposal sites. What is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s policy on the disposal of artificial turf?
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government subsidizes the cost of turfing school grounds. If artificial turf is to be installed, will it be subsidized as well? We think it needs to be reviewed.
The Tokyo Shimbun (1 July 2021) reported: According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Office of Education, artificial turf schoolyards are used in approximately 120 ward elementary schools in 23 wards, and in Adachi Ward, 28 of 69 ward elementary schools have adopted artificial turf.
How many of Tokyo’s 23 wards’ public elementary and junior high schools currently have artificial turf and how many have natural turf? If possible, please tell us by ward. We would also appreciate it if you could tell us the situation of elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo other than those in the 23 wards.