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“One Tohoku” G8 Summit and words from Sendai’s Mayor Emiko Okuyama


Sendai City has applied to host the Group of Eight meeting (the G8 summit) scheduled to be held in Japan in 2016.

As advantages in holding the G8 summit in Sendai in the Tohoku region, we are emphasizing the following points to the Japanese government: (1) the Tohoku region’s recovery efforts symbolize the national government’s commitment to Japanese Revitalization and Local Economy Vitalization; (2) the Tohoku region has accumulated knowledge on disaster prevention and mitigation, which are universal challenges, with many pioneering industry-academia-government collaborations underway; and (3) hosting the G8 summit would allow us to express our appreciation to national leaders for the generous support provided by their respective countries in facilitating our recovery, and let them know that the Tohoku region has a wealth of attractive tourism resources and can offer hands-on excursion programs.

On the other hand, what is the main advantage of hosting the G8 summit for Sendai and Tohoku? I believe that hosting the summit will provide us with a great opportunity to strongly demonstrate the presence of the Tohoku region to the world, thereby helping attract many more visitors and investments to Tohoku.

According to a recent media report, this year the number of tourists from foreign countries to Japan is expected to reach the 1.2 million mark, largely exceeding the previous year’s figure, which was a record-high at that time. To our regret, however, foreign tourists visiting the Tohoku region have, due to the significant impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake, only reached 60% of the pre-disaster numbers.

The Tohoku region faces a declining and super-aging population. To maintain the region’s vitality into the future, it is essential for the Tohoku region to attract more visitors. In actuality, however, Tohoku currently remains virtually unknown overseas.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have come to develop a strong awareness of ‘One Tohoku’ in the course of our recovery endeavors, and by organizing the Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival, and supporting the activities of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. I believe that now is the time for all residents of the Tohoku region to dispel rumors about the disaster and show the attractiveness of each area, in order to promote Tohoku to people around the world.

The host city of the G8 summit will be determined in spring next year, from among the seven bidding municipalities, including Sendai City. On 14th October 2014, the Sendai Tohoku Bid Committee for the 2016 Summit was set up, comprising government officials and citizens of the six prefectures of the Tohoku region. Also, the Tohoku Mayors Association adopted a special resolution that calls for the G8 summit to be held in Sendai. We are now ready to work to be selected as the host city of the summit through the joint efforts of all Tohoku municipalities.

If the entire Tohoku region is not vibrant, we cannot hope for a bright future for Sendai. Sendai City will take on the leadership role in promoting Tohoku’s utmost efforts in helping to realize a Sendai Summit.

Emiko Okuyama

Mayor of Sendai City

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