Japanese expats take their brooms to Paris streets

Sun Apr 19, 2009 3:41pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Japanese expatriates took to the streets of Paris on Sunday armed with brooms to clean up the city for the tens of thousands of Japanese tourists who visit each year.

To the amusement or indifference of passers-by, the team of Japanese expats called the Greenbirds chose to give a stretch of the Champs Elysees avenue their monthly cleaning treatment.

"We want to make Paris more beautiful, at the moment it is so-so," said Tada Osamu, a 36-year old engineer from Nara who leads the team.

Despite an army of 5,000 municipal cleaners sweeping the city's 2,400 km (1,500 miles) of pavement each day, Parisian streets are littered with cigarette butts, dog excrement, chewing gum and empty fast food packaging.

Founded in 2003 to clean a fashionable Tokyo street, Greenbird now has 10 teams in the Japanese capital. Its Paris branch was set up in 2007 by former banker Yoshikazu Sekiguchi and business student Masakazu Koyanagi.

(Reporting by Thomas White and Marcel Michelson; Editing by Sophie Hares)

<p>Japanese Greenbird Paris volunteers collect the litter they cleared from Avenue Champs Elysees in Paris April 19, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas White</p>