Mon, Jul 30, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Kaohsiung mayor to visit Japan

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) is scheduled to visit Japan next month, while Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi is expected to visit Taiwan in September, marking significant progress in inter-city diplomacy between the two nations, sources familiar with Taiwan-Japan affairs said.

Chen is scheduled to lead a 40-member delegation to Hachioji, a city west of Tokyo, on Friday to conduct city and cultural exchanges, following the signing of an amity agreement between the two cities last year, the sources said.

The Kaohsiung City Government will also hold a photo exhibition featuring scenic spots in the city and local characteristics of Taiwan at the Hachioji City SOGO department store from tomorrow to Sunday, the sources said.

Chen is scheduled to make a tour of the exhibition on Saturday and will accompany a folk dance troupe from Kaohsiung's Chung Cheng Elementary School to the Festival of Hachioji, the sources said.

As Hokkaido has relied to a large degree on Taiwanese tourists to stimulate its economy, the local government prioritizes good relations with Taiwan, the sources said.

They said that Harumi had expressed keen interest in visiting Taiwan when she met with former Council for Cultural Affairs chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀) and representative to Japan Koh Se-kai in Sapporo, Japan, last Tuesday.

The sources stressed that if Takahashi can make the trip in September as scheduled, it would be first visit by a Hokkaido governor in four-and-half years.

Takahashi told Koh that as Taiwanese tourists accounted for half of the total foreign visitors to Hokkaido and as Hokkaido will host next year's G8 summit, she plans to visit Taiwan to promote Japanese tourism.

Takahashi's trip to Taiwan is likely to take place between Sept. 2 and Sept. 6 and include visits to Taipei and Kaohsiung, according to a spokesman for the Hokkaido Tourism Bureau, which is in charge of the governor's itinerary.

Hokkaido received 500,000 foreign tourists last year, with 280,000 coming from Taiwan.

Given current conditions, the Hokkaido government has spared no efforts to attract Taiwanese tourists, including urging Japan's government to revise laws recognizing Taiwanese driver's licenses to allow Taiwanese tourists to drive in Japan.

The amendment has been approved and will come into effect this fall.

Hokkaido TV has launched a promotional program featuring a tour of the island by car, hosted by Taiwanese entertainer Wen Tsuei-ping (溫翠蘋), to introduce tourist destinations such as Hakodate, Kushiro and Wakkanai. The program will be broadcast in Taiwan and Japan soon.

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