Reuters reports that smog is menacing Japanese cities for the first time in 30 years and cropping up in rural areas for the first time ever:
Warnings for high levels of hazardous smog have been issued in a record 28 prefectures so far this year, from sparsely populated isles in southern Japan to Niigata, western Japan, where 350 people have suffered stinging eyes and throats.
While the government is cautious about placing blame, experts say much of the rise in pollution is coming from China.
If you live in big cities, you are problably familiar with this type of smog, called "photochemical smog" because it is created when sunlight reacts with car exhaust and factory fumes (as well as older garbage incinerators). Such particles can cause breathing difficulties and headaches. An increasing number of children are suffering from bronchial asthma in Japan. Studies say the number of cases has increased sixfold in the past 30 years.
Reuters: Smog Smothers Japan, Experts Point to China
(Graphic of "haze movement" from Japundit)
Update: The air pollution is considered so bad in Beijing, that US athletes will be based in South Korea and UK athletes in Macau, to avoid exposure during the 2008 Olympics.
Bloomberg: Beijing Smog Forces Olympic Teams to Prepare for Asthma Attacks