Teshima Island — one of many islands in Japan’s Inland Sea, where the nation’s first national park was established — has for decades served as a dumping ground for trash and toxic waste. The practice was illegal, but advantageous for the nation’s powerful industries (and, according to rumor, its powerful mob). Now, after a 25-year battle, environmental activists and residents of Teshima have finally scored a success, securing a cleanup process that could cost up to $500 million. That victory is evidence of the growing power of local activism in Japan. In increasing numbers, grassroots activists are successfully taking on dangerous industries, damaging development projects, and lax environmental standards. Teshima residents are thrilled to be watching the renewal of their poisoned land: “We are all amazed by nature’s recovery powers,” said 65-year-old farmer and island activist Harutoshi Kojima.