A 26-year-old Japanese man began a three-month walk around Taiwan to raise environmental awareness in Tainan City on Wednesday.
Yuji Miyata attended World Earth Day activities sponsored by the Tainan City Government before embarking on his walk. He arrived in Tainan a day earlier, having completed walks in Hong Kong, Beijing, South Korea and Okinawa over the past year.
Miyata said he became concerned about environmental issues at the age of six after watching a television report on holes in the ozone layer caused by pollutants in the atmosphere.
He said he was greatly inspired by Paul Colemen — earthwalker, tree planter and environmentalist — in late 2007, became a vegetarian and embarked on a global journey to deliver his message on the environment.
He said he has walked 4,400km through three nations over the past 14 months. Without much money in his pocket, he said, he is often provided with shelter and given food and water by strangers.
“It’s a wonderful feeling camping in the wild for the night after having nothing but water for two or three days,” Miyata said.
A determined Miyata said even his parents’ worries would not change his decision to walk around the globe.
“I’ll keep walking around the globe until the Earth takes a turn for the better environmentally,” he vowed.
After the Taiwan walk, he said he will proceed to other Asian countries before heading for the Middle East and Europe.
He said he got to know Chang Huang-chen (張皇珍), director of Tainan City Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau, via a US World Earth Day Web site, prompting him to organize the Taiwan leg of his walk.
For his part, Chang said he would write letters to local governments nationwide asking them to provide hospitality to Miyata and cheer him along.
Since 1990, Coleman, a British citizen, has walked 47,500km through 39 nations, planting trees and encouraging people to preserve the natural environment, delivering the environmental message from the jungles of the Amazon to the highlands of Zimbabwe and even into war zones.
In 2000, Coleman began a campaign to plant 100 million trees, one for every man, woman and child killed in the last century of war. Thanks to the support of people around the world, he says, at least 11,350,000 trees have been planted so far.