Japan on Wednesday compiled a policy package to tackle hay fever caused by pollen from cedar and cypress trees, with plans to accelerate their reduction and replace them with varieties that produce less pollen.

The government is expected to initially focus on areas ringing major cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka, and cut down 70,000 hectares of forest annually over the next 10 years, higher than the current removal rate of 50,000 hectares annually.

The package also includes initiatives to introduce machines that can fell trees more efficiently, improve cedar timber distribution facilities and create a system for releasing data regarding the use of domestic timber among home builders within fiscal 2023.

Regarding the use of immunotherapy medicines for alleviating allergy symptoms, the government will work on securing raw materials and help increase production to ensure sufficient supply for 500,000 people from 2025 onward, up from the current 250,000.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (L) inspects tree felling work in a forest in Hitachiomiya, Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan, on Oct. 7, 2023, as the government seeks to tackle hay fever by chopping down more cedar trees, which are a source of pollen. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Allergies to the pollen, with symptoms such as runny nose and itchy eyes, is estimated to affect more than 40 percent of the population in Japan, according to an Environment Ministry survey.

A large number of cedar trees were planted in reforestation efforts during Japan's period of rapid economic growth after the end of World War II.

The government in May unveiled measures against hay fever consisting of allergy prevention, pollen forecasts and treatment. It plans to reduce the total area covered with cedar trees by around 20 percent in the next 10 years.