Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida Visits Kumamoto Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture
(Third Round of the “Local to Global” Project) (Results)
From March 11 to 12, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited Kumamoto Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture as the third round of the “Local to Global” Project, and attended related events. The overview is as follows. In Kumamoto Prefecture Minister Kishida was accompanied by the diplomatic corps in Japan and by members of the foreign press invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Minister Kishida was also accompanied by Mr. Shunsuke Takei, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs for the entire schedule.
1. Visit to the Minamiaso Railway Line
On the morning of March 12, Minister Kishida and the diplomatic corps took a train on the Minamiaso Railway Line in Takamori Town, Kumamoto Prefecture. They received an explanation from Mr. Daisei Kusamura, Mayor of Takamori Town, about the state of the recovery from the Kumamoto Earthquake, which occurred in April last year.They rode a train on a section where service has been partially restored and experienced the vigorous reconstruction first-hand while being welcomed by local residents.
2. Visit to Mashiki Town’s “Mashiki Reconstruction Food Village”
On the morning of March 12, Minister Kishida and the diplomatic corps visited the “Mashiki Reconstruction Food Village” in Mashiki Town, Kumamoto Prefecture. Minister Kishida conveyed to Mr. Hironori Nishimura, Mayor of Mashiki Town, and others the determination as a member of the Government to make the utmost effort to further reconstruct Kumamoto, along with presenting soccer balls and other equipment in the hope of encouraging Mashiki’s citizens, who are persevering amid adversity. Minister Kishida and the diplomatic corps received an explanation from Mayor Nishimura about the extent of the damage caused by the Kumamoto Earthquake and the progress with reconstructing Mashiki Town. They encouraged the victims, visited the Reconstruction Food Village and bought local products.
3. Photo session with the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, the Mayor of Kumamoto City, Kumamon and Higomaru, and photo session with Chinese students participating in the JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) Program
On the afternoon of March 12, Minister Kishida and the diplomatic corps accompanying him had photographs taken with Mr. Ikuo Kabashima, Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, Mr. Kazufumi Onishi, Mayor of Kumamoto City, Kumamon (head of Kumamoto Prefecture’s Sales Department and Happiness Department), and Higomaru (Kumamoto City’s mascot), at Josaien, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture. On that occasion, Minister Kishida presented Kumamon with a bouquet of flowers to celebrate Kumamon’s birthday on the same day. Following that, Minister Kishida had photographs taken with Chinese students who are visiting Japan through JENESYS, an Asia youth exchange program.
4. Lunch discussion with the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, Mayor of Kumamoto City and diplomatic corps
On the afternoon of March 12, Minister Kishida had lunch at Josaien with Governor Kabashima, Mayor Onishi and the diplomatic corps, where they exchanged views on the theme of “what messages should be sent to the world, and how, in order to promote tourism in Kumamoto following the earthquakes and its reconstruction efforts,” with the aim of attracting tourists from around the world back to Kumamoto, which boasts some of Japan’s foremost sightseeing resources.
5. Visit to Kumamoto Castle
On the afternoon of March 12, Minister Kishida, together with the diplomatic corps accompanying him, visited Kumamoto Castle, which was damaged by the earthquake in April last year. Minister Kishida received an explanation about the state of the reconstruction from Kumamoto City Mayor Onishi, and inspected the damage.
6. Symposium: “Dialogue with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Kyushu, the Asian gateway: How to convey Kyushu’s appeal to Asia”
On the afternoon of March 12, Minister Kishida traveled from Kumamoto Prefecture to Fukuoka Prefecture to attend a symposium entitled “Dialogue with Foreign Minister Kishida: Kyushu, the Asia gateway: How to convey Kyushu’s appeal to Asia,” which MOFA held at Kyushu University’s Nishijin Plaza. Minister Kishida delivered the keynote speech and participated in a panel discussion.
At this symposium, following greetings by Parliamentary Vice-Minister Takei and Dr. Chiharu Kubo, President of Kyushu University (co-sponsor representative), Minister Kishida delivered his keynote address on Kyushu-Asia exchanges and conveying Kyushu’s appeal. In that address, Minister Kishida introduced the “Innovative Asia” Initiative, MOFA’s new ODA project to invite 1,000 outstanding youths from Asia over the coming five years and offer opportunities for them to play advice roles in promoting innovation in Japan, thereby contributing to the economic growth of their home countries and Japan. In addition, Minister Kishida mentioned the importance of promoting Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations from a future-oriented perspective, and of implementing, with responsibility, the agreement at the end of 2015 and pursuing Japan-ROK cooperation in various fields with the new ROK administration as well.
In the panel discussion that followed, Mr. Hiroshi Ogawa, Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture, Mr. Koji Karaike, Chairman, Kyushu Railway Company, Dr. Jekuk Chang, President, Dongseo University, ROK, Minister Kishida and Parliamentary Vice-Minister Takei appeared as panelists, and an active discussion was held on conveying Kyushu’s appeal externally and promoting people-to-people exchanges, including tourists and international students.
7. Visit to Canal City Hakata
On the evening of March 12, Minister Kishida visited Canal City Hakata, a commercial facility in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, and viewed the stores and attractions bustling with foreign tourists.
8. Dinner with local business people from Fukuoka Prefecture
On the evening of March 12, Minister Kishida exchanged views with local business people and others from Fukuoka Prefecture on ways of conveying the appeal of Fukuoka and Kyushu, approaches to people-to-people exchanges, and other topics.
(Reference 1) Diplomatic corps accompanying Minister Kishida – Names of countries
Singapore, Malaysia, India, Switzerland, European Union (EU), Indonesia, China, Thailand, Canada, the ROK (10 countries in total. These countries account for a large number of visitors to Kumamoto Prefecture).
(Reference 2) Minamiaso Railway Line
The Minamiaso Railway Line arose out of the former Japanese National Railways’ Takamori Line as a third-sector project in 1985. An emphasis has been placed not only on its role as a local public transport system but on its tourism aspect also, including by introducing the Yusuge-go, a “torokko” sightseeing train, as a tourist train from the time the line began operating. The line suffered serious damage in the Kumamoto Earthquake in April last year, and at one point operations on the entire line were suspended, but from July 31 last year partial operations recommenced on a 7.1-kilometer section between Takamori Station and Nakamatsu Station.
(Reference 3) Mashiki Town’s “Mashiki Reconstruction Food Village”
Following the Kumamoto Earthquake in April last year, this facility was set up in June last year in order to establish an environment enabling economic activities to resume as soon as possible in Mashiki Town, which suffered serious damage by the earthquake. Led by the town’s chamber of commerce and industry and Machizukuri Mashiki, it was set up by chamber of commerce and industry member companies and whose economic activities were facing difficulties due to stores that had collapsed in the earthquake and lost facilities and equipment, local Mashiki Town business operators.
(Reference 4) Josaien
A tourism facility located in Sakuranobaba, at the base of Kumamoto Castle. It was established to enhance the appeal of Kumamoto Castle and the castle town by promoting the food culture, history and traditions of the region.