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Tomodachi Spring / Summer 2018

 
Feature: 

G20 Japan 2019

G20 Summit & Ministerial Meetings to Be Held for the First Time in Japan

 

 On the 28th and 29th of June 2019, the leaders of the G20 will gather in Osaka as Japan hosts its first ever G20 Summit. Concurrent with the Summit meeting, the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting, the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and other ministerial meetings will also be held at eight different locations throughout Japan.
 
 During its presidency of next year’s G20 Summit, the Japanese government is determined to carry out strong leadership in advancing discussions toward resolving the myriad issues now facing the international community.
 
 At the same time, the G20 Summit is a perfect opportunity for people from all over the world to see and experience not only a newly revitalized and transforming Japan—which is thanks to booming corporate profits and a wave of inbound investment as a result of bold regulatory reforms and other stimulus measures—but also the wide-ranging appeal of the various regions that will host these consequential discussions.
 

 

What Are the G20 Summit & Ministerial Meetings?

 The G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy is held every year to discuss the critical issues affecting the global economy, and it brings together the members of the G7 (France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and the European Union), as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey (listed in alphabetical order).
 
 The participating nations represent 80% of global gross domestic product. Designated as the “premier forum for international economic cooperation” at the Pittsburgh meeting in 2009, in recent years the G20 Summit has dealt with a wide range of issues facing the global community, including development, climate and energy, digital economy, and employment in addition to the world economy.
 
 Ministerial meetings discussing related themes are also held during the host year.

 

 
All Nine Host Cities Represent Unique Aspects of Japan

 

The G20 Hamburg Summit was held from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany. The G20 Buenos Aires Summit will be held from November 30 to December 1, 2018 in Argentina.

 The nine cities hosting the G20 Summit and its related ministerial meetings all have their own fascinating cuisine, history, and culture. The city of Osaka, location of the Summit Meeting, is one of Japan’s economic powerhouses with a population of 2.72 million (Osaka Prefecture: 8.83 million) and a GDP of JPY 20 trillion (USD 187 billion) (Osaka Prefecture: JPY 39 trillion (USD 364 billion)). Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Hokkaido’s increasingly popular and scenic international resort town of Kutchan, with a population of 16,000. These incredibly diverse municipalities have already started thoroughly preparing for the gatherings they will host. The following article showcases the appealing qualities of each of the host cities and the expectations of their leaders.
 


 

An International City Rivaling Tokyo

Summit Meeting (Osaka, Osaka Prefecture)

 
 Osaka is a major city of commerce and has been since olden times. Today it is served by three different airports, including Kansai International Airport with round-the-clock arrivals and departures, and has become an international city bustling with over 10 million foreign visitors per year.
 

As a candidate for hosting the World Expo 2025, Osaka continues to transform to become a truly international city.
©MINISTRY OF ECONOMY, TRADE AND INDUSTRY

 According to Governor of Osaka Prefecture Ichiro Matsui, “The prefecture and city have worked together to enhance Osaka’s urban infrastructure, and we’re able to provide an ideal environment for welcoming the visiting heads of state. They’ll see that Osaka is brimming with manufacturing companies known for their can-do approach that says, ‘there’s nothing we can’t make.’”
 
 Alongside much of the world, Japan now faces the issue of a super-aging society, and Osaka is promoting endeavors that incorporate cutting-edge technologies to develop a society in which all people can live healthy and happy lives. Osaka is also now working to invite the World Expo 2025 to Osaka, under the banner of “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” According to Governor Matsui, “The G20 Summit is also an opportunity to raise Osaka’s profile as a candidate to host the World Expo 2025. Osaka Prefecture is working together with the city of Osaka and the business community to ensure that the G20 Summit is a definitive success.”
 
 Osaka City Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, too, is looking forward to the summit. “For the safety of this top-level global summit and the 30,000 people it will gather, we are taking every precaution. I want to make the G20 Summit’s success an opportunity for Osaka to grow to represent Japan right alongside Tokyo.”
 

Ichiro Matsui (right),
Governor of Osaka Prefecture

Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1964. Served as a member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly. Elected as Governor of Osaka Prefecture in 2011.
 

Hirofumi Yoshimura (left),
Mayor of Osaka

Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1975. Became a licensed attorney in 2000. Served as a member of the Osaka City Council and as a member of the House of Representatives. Elected as Mayor of Osaka in 2015.


 

Evolving into One of Japan’s Preeminent International Resorts

Tourism Ministers’ Meeting (Kutchan, Hokkaido Prefecture)

 
 The town of Kutchan, located a two-and-a-half hour drive from New Chitose Airport, is one of Japan’s top ski resorts. Kutchan has become internationally recognized for its high-quality powder snow and scenic landscapes, and the number of foreign tourists has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. Luxury condominiums are being built in rapid succession thanks to foreign direct investment, transforming the town into an international resort.
 

Kutchan supports the development of luxury condominiums and hotels, while enforcing strict environmental standards.

 Kutchan Mayor Eiji Nishie explains, “In order to prevent disorderly development, we take the landscape into account in our planning, for example by restricting the height of buildings to that of local trees. This has benefitted our town’s reputation overseas and attracted more foreign investment.”
 
 The town has worked hard to make life easier for non-Japanese visitors, including by providing foreign language services at its general hospital. Since tourism is a highly seasonal industry, Kutchan has also implemented measures to attract conventions during the off-season and become an all-year resort.
 
 “The entire town has made great efforts to become even more hospitable towards our guests, putting up additional guidance signs and enhancing Wi-Fi coverage. We’ll be able to treat everyone to a stress-free stay for the upcoming G20 ministerial meeting, and we hope to make the meeting an opportunity for all participants, including ministers, to share examples of their own difficulties and successes in promoting tourism,” says Mayor Nishie.
 

Eiji Nishie,
Mayor of Kutchan

Born in Hokkaido in 1963. Became mayor in 2015, after serving as Kutchan’s Construction Section Manager and in other positions.


 

A Science City and Hub of Cutting-Edge Technology

Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy (Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture)

 
 Ibaraki Prefecture is located in the vicinity of Tokyo, and the region boasts agriculture and manufacturing that are not only highly developed, but also highly in balance. Furthermore, the ministerial meeting’s host city of Tsukuba is known as Japan’s leading science city, with scores of cutting-edge technologies. Roughly 8,700 non-Japanese researchers and students representing about 140 countries live in this international city. Tsukuba enjoys easy access from Tokyo, located only about 45 minutes from the city center by train.
 

Ibaraki is devoted to the use of robotics and digital technology for educating its next generation of skilled professionals.

©Ibaraki Pref.

 Ibaraki Prefecture Governor Kazuhiko Oigawa explains, “We’re taking advantage of the favorable conditions in Ibaraki to pursue efforts that are ahead of other prefectures’ in order to further boost our industry and cultivate future leaders.” Examples of these efforts include Ibaraki’s approaches to resolving social issues through the use of innovative digital technologies such as autonomous driving and robotics, and fostering human resources with the help of digital equipment.
 
 “Through the upcoming meeting, I hope to promote Tsukuba to the world as a cutting-edge technological hub while showcasing Ibaraki Prefecture’s beautiful nature, and enable this region to show the world the way forward for global economic partnerships and digital technology utilization,” says Governor Oigawa.
 

Kazuhiko Oigawa,
Governor of Ibaraki Prefecture

Born in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture in 1964. Joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (the present Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1988. Left the Ministry in 2003 and served in positions such as Director of DWANGO Co., Ltd., before assuming the office of Governor of Ibaraki Prefecture in September 2017.


 

Pioneering Next-Generation Agriculture and Food Culture

Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (Niigata, Niigata Prefecture)

 
 Niigata Prefecture and its city of Niigata have highly productive agriculture and fishing industries. Niigata produces more rice than any other prefecture and is home to the premium “Koshihikari” brand of rice. Niigata Mayor Akira Shinoda explains, “Even our most fertile farming regions used to be marshes with a lot of flooding, and our ancestors struggled with the water and soil to create our farmlands. In order to hand down these rich production fields to the next generation, we have a long history in Niigata of engaging in environmentally friendly, sustainable agriculture, while also working to increase profitability.”
 

Niigata implements various progressive measures to boost its agricultural productivity, such as the use of driverless tractors.
©KUBOTA Corporation

 Niigata also works hard to realize state-of-the-art agriculture with its use of large-scale plant factories and incorporation of information and communication technology. “I want our visitors at the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting to see our forward-looking agriculture, as well as our efforts to create a new food culture, for example through helping launch restaurants operated by farming families. I also hope that they will enjoy our distinctive Japanese cuisine, sake, and geisha culture.”
 
 The city of Niigata is easily accessible from Tokyo in as little as 100 minutes by the Shinkansen bullet train. When Japan ended its isolation from other countries in the Meiji period, Niigata Port was one of the five ports designated to be open to international trade. “Hosting the G20 in 2019 will coincide with the 150th anniversary of opening our port. I would like us to think of this as a ‘second opening of the port’ and use the chance to promote our status as an international hub city.”
 

Akira Shinoda,
Mayor of Niigata

Born in the city of Niigata in 1948. Worked for a newspaper company. Elected as Mayor of Niigata in 2002.


 

A Community in Harmony with Nature, Striving for Energy Self Sufficiency

Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth (Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture)

 

To preserve its uniquely beautiful nature, Karuizawa adopts policies such as subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles.

 The town of Karuizawa is located on a plateau surrounded by a beautiful natural environment, just over an hour from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train. It welcomes some 8.5 million visitors annually as one of Japan’s preeminent resort areas. In 1886, Canadian missionary Alexander Croft Shaw praised the town as “a hospital without a roof,” and since then it has developed into a place to find respite from the heat and an international setting for health and recreation. Under the slogan “Karuizawa Smart Community,” there are ongoing efforts to reduce environmental impact by equipping public facilities with renewable energy systems, and providing subsidies for the installation of residential solar power generation systems and the purchase of electric vehicles. Karuizawa Mayor Susumu Fujimaki explains, “Through these measures we hope to promote energy conservation and local production for local consumption in the area of energy. Our goal is a community grounded in coexistence with nature.” The mayor adds, “We’re hoping that future generations will be told of this meeting as a big turning point regarding the world’s environmental issues, and we want to create the best possible environment for a productive discussion, while telling our visitors about our town’s efforts.”
 

Susumu Fujimaki,
Mayor of Karuizawa

Born in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture in 1951. Served as a member of Karuizawa’s town assembly from 1995 to 2007. Became mayor in February 2011.


 

“The Heart of Japan—Technology and Tradition”

Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture)

 
 Aichi Prefecture is one of the world’s leading industrial regions, especially for fields like automobiles, being home to Toyota Motor Corporation, as well as aerospace manufacturing and robotics. “We hope that the dignitaries visiting us to attend the meeting will experience our industrial strengths and cutting-edge technological capabilities first-hand,” says Hideaki Ohmura, Governor of Aichi.
 

Aichi, home to Toyota Motor Corporation, has become one of Japan’s biggest industrial centers with its cutting-edge technology and a highly-skilled workforce.

 Aichi’s slogan is “The Heart of Japan—Technology and Tradition.” “This region produced many of the samurai leaders who laid the foundation of early modern Japan, and it is also an area that contributed greatly to the evolution of tea ceremony culture,” explains Governor Ohmura. “We hope that our visitors will not only see our leading technology, but also develop awareness of our traditional Japanese culture and touch upon the true heart of Japan.”
 
 Aichi Prefecture has successfully hosted various international events and meetings, including the 2005 World Exposition. Governor Ohmura explains his fellow citizens’ hopes for the coming meeting: “Our local communities are going to provide heartfelt omotenashi hospitality to all our guests as a concerted regional undertaking. Peace and friendship are essential to global development, and we hope to make this an international gathering that will enable the world’s leading nations to cooperate for the future of humanity.”
 

Hideaki Ohmura,
Governor of Aichi Prefecture

Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1960. First elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 1996. Served as Parliamentary Vice-Minister for the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and as Parliamentary Vice-Minister for the Cabinet Office. Assumed the office of Governor of Aichi Prefecture in 2011.


 

Developing as a City Where Everyone Can Live Long and Healthy Lives

Health Ministers’ Meeting (Okayama, Okayama Prefecture)

 

Okayama leverages its abundant medical resources for community development that enables everyone to live long and healthy lives.

 The city of Okayama, a pleasantly warm region that’s served since long ago as an important hub for domestic transportation, is gaining recognition for its efforts toward sustainable urban development. In 2014 the city hosted the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and has received high praise internationally as a city taking the lead in ESD. Okayama is also known as a city advanced in medical treatment and health due to its plentiful medical resources. It boasts some of the highest rankings in the country for the number of doctors per capita, quality of medical installations, and quality of doctors. Mayor Masao Omori says, “Health is a foundation for building a sustainable city. We are working to create a city environment where it’s easy for everyone to have long and healthy lives and continue living in a place they are accustomed to, even if they need to undergo medical or nursing care.”
 
 Mayor Omori continues, “Through the Health Ministers’ Meeting, we hope to convey Okayama’s approach to health and medical care as an issue of critical importance, while also sending the message that medical care should be provided under the philosophy of universal health coverage, meaning that everyone should have access to affordable health care services in times of need.”
 

Masao Omori,
Mayor of Okayama

Born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture in 1954. Served as Director General for Disaster Management of the Cabinet Office and as Director-General of the National Spatial Planning and Regional Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Became Mayor of Okayama in October 2013.


 

Making Life and Work Easier

Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting (Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture)

 
 The city of Matsuyama, the capital of Ehime Prefecture and the largest city on the island of Shikoku, boasts a great variety of attractions. Among them are Dogo Onsen, which is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan and whose main building is designated as one of the nation’s important cultural assets, and the 400-year-old Matsuyama Castle in the city’s center, which is one of the only 12 remaining original castles in Japan. The neighboring Setouchi Shimanami Kaido Expressway also provides a world renowned cycling course. This warm-temperature city facing the Seto Inland Sea is making full-scale efforts to create an environment that is not only pleasant to live in, but also to work in.
 

Matsuyama strives to create a society that provides supportive work environments for everyone.

 Matsuyama is providing training and job-seeking support to women raising small children, single parents, and others, as well as creating opportunities for these workers to work from home. This is helping the development of diverse human resources, which contributes to resolving labor shortages among small and medium enterprises.
 
 Matsuyama Mayor Katsuhito Noshi explains, “From fiscal 2018, Matsuyama has been making full-scale efforts to be a leading city in realizing work style reform. It is pressing forward with raising work efficiency through the introduction of IT equipment, while promoting the creation of a wide range of work styles and schedules tailored to each citizen’s particular lifestyle. This makes a work environment in which it is easy to continue working long-term.” Mayor Noshi describes the city’s aspirations by saying, “Through this ministerial meeting, Matsuyama looks forward to starting a new page toward resolving labor and employment issues around the world.”
 

Katsuhito Noshi,
Mayor of Matsuyama

Born in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture in 1967. Led a popular local informational program as a television anchor. Assumed the office of Mayor of Matsuyama in 2010.


 

A Leading Japanese City for Startups

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture)

 
 The city of Fukuoka, with a population of 1.57 million, is the municipality with the largest economy in the Kyushu region. In addition to enjoying an economic boom, the city has also been designated a National Strategic Special Zone for Global Startups and Job Creation by the national government.
 

Fukuoka boasts one of Japan’s largest startup accelerators, Fukuoka Growth Next.

 “In the special zone, the government provides corporate tax cuts and relaxed visa requirements for startup entrepreneurs,” explains Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takashima. “Together with support from Fukuoka’s startup accelerator Fukuoka Growth Next, the largest accelerator in Japan, the city has attracted outstanding human resources from both around Japan and overseas, and is the origin of many unique enterprises. You could say that Fukuoka is Japan’s most startup-friendly city.” Experiments for use of drones and hydrogen energy are conducted within the city, and implementations of technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are also making headway.
 
 Fukuoka’s airport, harbor, and main station are concentrated in a 2.5 km (1.6 mi.) radius, creating a compact urban structure. The city is also surrounded by a rich natural environment of ocean and mountains, and its urban vitality exists in harmony with this environment.
 
 “In the financial sector as well, the waves of innovation are surging and the world is keeping a close watch on future developments, lending great significance to Fukuoka’s hosting of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting. My fellow citizens and I are determined to make this meeting a success,” says Mayor Takashima.
 

Soichiro Takashima,
Mayor of Fukuoka

Born in Oita Prefecture in 1974. Worked as a television anchor. Elected Mayor of Fukuoka in 2010 at the age of 36.