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Tourist train runs through Fukushima Pref. as preparatory publicity blitz begins

6 April 2014

Opening ceremonies for a preparatory publicity blitz for the "Fukushima Destination Campaign" aimed at luring visitors from the rest of Japan were held across Fukushima Prefecture on April 5 ahead of the launch of the campaign next spring. The campaign is to be undertaken by the prefectural government in cooperation with East Japan Railway Co. and other partners. As part of the ceremonies, a total of 400 tourists, mainly from the Tokyo metropolitan region, took a ride on a special train, accepting warm hospitality extended by local people on each stop while enjoying the allures of the nature-rich prefecture.

The train, dubbed "Express Fukushima Tourism Campaign," left JR Ueno Station in Tokyo at 8:25 a.m. and stopped at three stations on the JR Tohoku Line -- Shin-Shirakawa, Koriyama and Fukushima. Upon arrival at each station, the passengers were greeted by landladies of hot spring inns as well as officials of the prefectural and municipal governments. They were presented with flowers and saplings while "taiko" Japanese drum performances were staged. At the main venue at Koriyama Station, cups of sake were offered as well. Many passengers spent the night at inns and hotels in the prefecture while visiting tourist spots such as Hanamiyama Park in the prefectural capital of Fukushima and old residences of samurai warriors in Aizuwakamatsu.

Photo: A special tourist train operated as part of a preparatory publicity blitz for the "Fukushima Destination Campaign" is seen in the back while passengers crowd a Koriyama Station platform where local specialties such as sake and confectionery were offered.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

2 April 2014

Renewable energy think tank launched in Koriyama, aiming for post-disaster contribution

The Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute, AIST (FREA), a unit of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), was inaugurated on April 1 at an industrial park in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. Ahead of the start of work, FREA head Yoshiro Owadano urged institute staff to accomplish its two missions: promotion of R&D on renewable energy in a manner open to the world, and contribution to post-disaster reconstruction through the accumulation of new industrial clusters.

The new think tank sits on a land lot of about 5.5 hectares. It comprises a main R&D building, an experiment annex, a demonstration field for testing new energy sources such as solar heat and wind power, and a facility for testing the use of geothermal energy. The complex was built at a total cost of 10.1 billion yen. As of April 1, the institute had 68 staff employees, including researchers. With outside researchers expected to use the complex in the future, FREA will have up to 120 people at work. Staffers conducted R&D and other work at the complex from the first day.

FREA has six main themes of research, including the development and demonstration of a renewable energy network, and the evaluation of technologies for the manufacture and use of hydrogen-carrying containers as well as the development of technology for system optimization associated with the technologies.

Photo: Staff members of the Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute, AIST, pose for a group photo, determined to help Fukushima Prefecture's post-disaster reconstruction through R&D.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

1 April 2014

Messages from Fukushima natives in Perth, Australia, on display

Messages encouraging families with small children, sent by Fukushima Prefecture natives living in Perth, Australia, were put on display for five days from March 31 at a hall in the prefectural government office. The senders included parents and children.

The exhibition was organized by an association of Fukushima natives in the western Australian city, the Fukushima Kenjinkai Australia/Perth, which has been offering support to sufferers of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. The messages were intended to encourage parents raising children in the prefecture on the occasion of the third anniversary of the disaster.

A total of 98 messages were sent by children attending a supplementary school in Perth as well as by their parents. Each message is held by a small mascot kangaroo hanging from a circular gauze cage.

Photo: Messages from Fukushima natives living in Perth, Australia, are on display at a hall in the prefectural government office.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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