Fukui Prefecture, located almost in the middle of the main Japanese island of Honshu, borders on Ishikawa Prefecture to the north, Gifu Prefecture to the east, and Kyoto and Shiga prefectures to the southwest. A region on the Sea of Japan coast, Fukui has distinct four seasons, prone to snowfall in winter while summer is just as hot as in regions on the Pacific Ocean coast.
Fukui City, the venue of the APEC Energy Ministers' Meeting, is located in the northern part of the prefecture. It is a city with a population of about 260,000, which has developed in the Fukui Plain formed in the basin of the Kuzuryu and Asuwa rivers. Fukui City has all the functions of a prefectural capital and yet is an area where people can enjoy nature, including a coastline designated as a quasi-national park and mountains covered with rich green forests.
Fukui has long been a textile-producing region, which once boomed in the manufacturing of "habutae" silk and artificial silk. Today, Fukui is an integrated textile production center, putting together a whole range of textile industries, including nylon, polyester and other synthetic fibers. Eyewear is a prominent industry of Sabae City, which accounts for 95% of Japan's eyeglass frame production.
Moreover, in agriculture, Fukui Prefecture is a producer of good-quality rice, including the famed "Koshihikari" variety of rice originally raised in 1956 by the Fukui Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station. Fukui is currently aiming at becoming an integrated agricultural producer combining rice cultivation, which remains the principal farming sector, with production of local specialties and livestock raising.
On the other hand, 13 commercial nuclear power reactors are located in the prefecture, supplying 25% of Japan's nuclear-generated power, making Fukui a major source of clean energy.
In the latter half to the end of the 7th century, the area now called Fukui Prefecture was divided into two provinces, Wakasa and Koshi, and the latter was in turn divided into three -- Echizen, Ecchu and Echigo. Today's prefectural boundary dates back to Koshi-no-kuni (State of Koshi) formed in 823. After many vicissitudes, what is known today as Fukui Prefecture was born in February 1881.
Many cultural heritages refined and preserved in the long history of Fukui amount to 167 in the number of country-designated cultural assets, including six national treasures. Local residents familiarize themselves with the cultural heritages, along with tangible and intangible cultural properties handed down in various parts of the prefecture, as their proud assets.
Fukui also turned out many great figures toward the end of the Edo period (1603-1867), including Matsudaira Shungaku, reputedly one of the "four wise lords" who were active at the end of the era, his trusted lieutenant Hashimoto Sanai, and Yuri Kimimasa who drafted the Imperial Covenant Consisting of Five Articles.
Fukui has a number of buildings with high historical and cultural value, including the Maruoka Castle Keep, the oldest of its kind remaining in Japan, and the main hall and three-storied pagoda of Myoutsu-ji Temple, both of which are designated as national treasures.
Many cultural events held across the prefecture often show an upsurge of community-wide excitement. They include the Mikuni festival, one of the three great festivals of the Hokuriku region in which floats of huge warrior dolls parade through the town. Another is the Katsuyama Sagicho festival, an event with over 300 years of history characterized by the accompaniment of "taiko" (Japanese drums) and colorful decorative strips of paper hanging all over Katsuyama.
Maruoka Town, in Sakai City, has been holding since 1993 an "Ippitsu Keijo Prize" (literally drop-a-line award) event, or a contest of quick notes touted as competition for the shortest letter in Japan, attracting one million applications in 2008.
Fukui Prefecture in 1990 established a sister state relationship with the State of New Jersey, the United States, and signed a friendship agreement with Zhejiang Province, China. In 1991, Fukui and Russian Maritime Province signed a protocol for the promotion of friendship and economic exchanges.
While Fukui and its partners send delegations to each other, Fukui sends and receives trainees and dispatches economic missions in a series of cultural and economic exchanges.
Fukui Prefecture is widely known for delicacies from the sea and land, including Echizen snow crabs and Wakasa globefish. It is also rich in historical and cultural heritages, including the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, one of the three great dinosaur museums of the world; Eihei-ji Temple, the head temple of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism; the scenic Tojinbo Cliff; and many other scenic spots and places of historic interest.
Fukui Prefecture ranks very high in both "National Achievement Tests" and "National Physical Tests" held among the country's primary school pupils and junior high school students. The results of the tests reportedly show a serene environment, both at home and school, in Fukui Prefecture as well as the local government's policy to enhance school education, drawing attention from across Japan.
On the other hand, Fukui is home to 13 commercial nuclear power reactors, the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju and the prototype advanced thermal reactor Fugen, contributing for a long period of time to Japan's energy policy and prevention of global warming. Fukui aims at taking advantage of the accumulated technological and human resources and becoming an integrated energy R&D center, and is currently promoting R&D on state-of-the-art energy technologies as well as nurturing Japanese and foreign nuclear and energy experts.
In a bid to be well prepared for the APEC Energy Ministers' Meeting, Fukui Prefecture has set up the "2010 Japan APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting in Fukui Promotion Association" putting together representatives of the prefectural government, relevant cities, economic and tourism organizations, and environmental and energy bodies.
The association has been instrumental in carrying out projects one after another to promote the understanding of local people and create a feeling of welcome for the APEC Energy Ministers' Meeting.
In particular, the association is emphasizing the international education of children responsible for the next generation so that they will learn more about the environment and energy as well as APEC member countries and regions. Junior high school students of Fukui reported on their studies of APEC and member countries and regions assigned to them at the "APEC Children Energy Forum," making some proposals for the Energy Ministers' Meeting.
Preparations to extend hospitality to foreign visitors are well under way. An "Omotenashi (hospitality) Handbook," which carries hospitality manners as well as samples of conversations with visitors from APEC member economies, has been published and distributed. Likewise, "hospitality lectures for foreign visitors" were held for an audience of hotel, restaurant and transportation representatives.
Information will be posted as soon as it is available.
(Information on this page was offered from Fukui Prefecture.)