While a lot of Jakartans are either jogging or taking a stroll at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) sport complex, some people donning green T-shirts pick up trash as a result of littering in the jogging arena and put it into their garbage bags.
Their green T-shirts read “Jakarta Osoji Club”. The second word, in Japanese, means “cleaning”. As the words are also written in Japanese characters, the shirts give an initial impression that the people wearing them are Japanese, while actually only some of them are.
The Jakarta Osoji Club (JOC) was founded by a Japanese businessman, named Tsuyoshi Ashida, on April 29, 2012.
Ashida, who has been living in Indonesia for 18 years, said that he was concerned about the high amount of trash in Jakarta, then decided to write a letter in a Japanese newspaper distributed in Jakarta, and called on all Japanese people residing in the city to discuss the problem.
“After reading the letter, some Japanese expatriates in Jakarta held a meeting in April last year and decided to establish the club,” he said.
“When we started to go out and pick trash up in the GBK, some Indonesians asked why we foreigners were doing it,” he said. “When we answered that we just wanted to clean the city from trash, they asked to join us.”
According to Ashida, the JOC now has at least 150 members, of whom about 110 are Indonesians. They clean the GBK twice a month on Sunday morning.
A JOC member, Giovani Andika Pradana, 24, who is also an Indonesian doctor, said that he had felt embarrassed to know that foreigners, such as the Japanese, had been more concerned about the environment of the city.
“Jakartans are mostly complaining about trash and floods but they do nothing,” he said, adding that joining the JOC had changed his behavior to be more concerned about the need to rid the city of trash.
Tita Tenri, 23, a safety driving consultant who has joined the JOC for seven months, said that Jakartans should not only rely on the government to get the city cleaned up.
“We have to start cleaning by ourselves first, because we are not the only ones who want to enjoy a sanitary environment in this city, also visitors from other countries do,” she said.
Ashida said he did not know why most Jakartans still threw garbage everywhere, including public places like the GBK.
He said the city administration needed to know that many foreign investors were reluctant to live and run their business in Jakarta because its surroundings were so unhealthy.
“Besides developing infrastructure, the administration should also promote people’s awareness on taking part in cleaning up the city,” he said.
Ashida said he believed that Jakartans could change their bad habits.
“If they want to change their behavior by putting garbage in proper places, they must do it consistently,” he said.
He said that because foreigners were concerned about litter in Jakarta, local residents were expected to be encouraged to clean their own city.
“The Japanese people managed to clean up their cities due to criticism from foreigners. I hope the Indonesians will consider the JOC’s activities as a criticism too,” he said. (ian)