A 73-year-old retired Japanese teacher collects garbage in Malaysia's Cameron Highlands for 13 years

CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia (Sin Chew Daily / ANN) - Yoshinori Mochizuki, a 73-year-old retired teacher from Japan, picks up garbage three times a week whenever he is out to buy grocery on a 5km stretch of road.

“Cameron Highlands is a nice place. I love this place and I want to serve this place and maintain the hygiene of this environment by picking up garbage! “

Yoshinori Mochizuki is neither a cleaner nor a scavenger. But for the past 13 years, he picks up garbage along the 5km walk from his home in Tanah Rata to Brinchang three times a week whenever he walks to buy necessities. He will pick up the garbage along the way to throw them in garbage bins. 

The residents here are familiar with him. 

Mochizuki, a retired teacher who has been living in Malaysia under the Malaysia My Second Home programme. 

He started picking up garbage in Cameron Highlands some 13 years ago. He has also received compliments from the Cameron Highland municipal council as well as Housing and Local Government Ministry.

To him it is easy to throw garbage but difficult to pick up garbage. He wants to contribute his effort for Cameron Highlands so he picks up the garbage whenever he is walking to Brinchang. Each time he collects about three to 10 bags of garbage. There will be more bags during school holidays and public holidays. 

“The most common ones are bottles, used diapers, cigarette butts, lunch packs and etc. I think cigarette without cigarette butt should be sold in the market as this is the item that is most difficult to pick up. I will donate the aluminum cans to disabled centre. 

“A person’s effort is limited. 

"One's ability is limited, huge volume of rubbish will increase rubbish workers’ workload, so everyone should start from hia own, don't litter is the first step to care for the environment," he said.

He revealed that at first he was in Tanah Rata area to pick up garbage and later expanded to Brinchang. He now sets out from his home at 6:45 a.m. on Monday, Thursday and Saturday to pick up trash on his way to the Brinchang market to buy groceries.

Mochizuki said he had been told by a Japanese woman that the locals do not want him to pick up rubbish, but he had not heard of it himself.

He sees picking up trash as a form of exercise and physical training.

Sin Chew Daily reporter was chatting with him while he was picking up garbage on his way back to Tanah Rata. He walks fast and actively picks up the trash. He uses a clip to put the trash into a bag. When the bag is full he will throw the  garbage into a big garbage bin nearby. He clears the bag then fill it with garbage again. 

He said he likes brisk walking, which has been shown to prevent dementia in an experiment in Japan, and that he uses walking as a form of exercise.

Mochizuki pointed out that littering seems to be the "culture" of Malaysians. He had seen some people who did not throw their garbage into the garbage bin even if there was a garbage bin nearby.

"It is very important to keep the environment clean. We should take good care of the environment.

He points out that pollution can kill a turtle and that the cleanliness of a river can reflect a country's status. People should not litter anywhere, let alone throw used diapers on the road or the river.

He said the Prime Minister of Malaysia has once advocated Look East Policy to learn from Japan but now it is more important to "look around" and not to litter. 

Mochizuki revealed that he lived at the foot of Fuji mountain in Japan. There was a river with a lot of rubbish and it was very dirty. When he was young, his parents often took them there to pick up rubbish.

In Japan, he said, he used to be a college and university lecturer and chose to live in Cameron Highlands after retiring to avoid the country's earthquake.

Mochizuki said he and his sister came from Japan to live in Cameron Highlands for many years. He likes the fresh air there and the people are very friendly.

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