By Paul Chung
When all else fails, blame it on China. A lovely and sunny Sunday quickly turned into a hazy mess in Tokyo when a massive dust storm swathed the metropolitan area, causing low visibility and public health concerns.
The Japanese Metereological Agency confirmed that the dust storm is not connected to the series of toxic dust storms that has choked Beijing over the last few months.
“A rapidly developing low pressure system in the north was moving down south. It was bringing a snow storm in the north, and strong winds in Tokyo and surrounding areas,” said an agency meteorologist. “In the Kanto region [Tokyo and surrounding areas], the strong winds picked up dry dust particles from the ground, which lowered visibility.”
Nevertheless, some would rather believe that the dust drifted from nearby China. One Japanese professor and pollution expert, Tetsuo Sakamoto, collected a sample of the dust which he says contained traces of yellow dust from China. Moreover, he allegedly discovered calcium chlorite, a byproduct of dust’s calcium and sea salt.
His claim, however, is not completely unsubstantiated. Last month, several prefectures in Japan reported higher-than-average PM2.5 concentration readings as a result of dust particles drifting eastward towards the Korean Peninsula and Japan.