Fukushima Prefecture natives living in Europe to hold summit in June

Groups of Fukushima Prefecture natives living in four European countries are scheduled to hold their first summit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on June 3. The summit will gather leaders of the associations of Japanese nationals hailing from Fukushima and living in the Netherlands, Britain, France and Germany in an effort to dispel harmful rumors stemming from the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant and strengthen the dissemination of information. As part of the drive, the groups will encourage European people to visit Fukushima for baseball and softball games to be held in the prefecture during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They will also explore ways of jointly publicizing Fukushima products, including rice and sake (rice wine), under a common theme once a year. The groups are known as Holland Fukushima Kai (society), London Shakunage (alpine rose) Kai, France Fukushima Kai and German North Rhine-Westphalia Kenjin Kai (Fukushima Prefecture people's society). Each group has been making efforts to draw attention to Fukushima's attractions through sales of prefectural products at events associated with Japan held in the European countries. But Fukushima's reputation remains damaged due to the nuclear disaster. The groups expect to discuss how to step up publicity efforts and other matters at the summit. Details of what should be done to achieve publicity have yet to be hammered out. Some ideas have been broached in connection with the growing popularity in Europe of Japanese ramen noodles and sake. Current plans include the introduction of the Kitakata and Shirakawa ramen brands at events in the European countries ahead of the Olympic baseball and softball competitions in Fukushima. Promotion of sake is also planned, capitalizing on Fukushima's honor as the region with the largest number of newly brewed sake brands awarded the Gold Prize among Japan's 47 prefectures in the Annual Japan Sake Awards. Fukushima won the honor for the fourth straight year in 2016. Holland Fukushima Kai hopes to encourage Dutch people to visit Fukushima, taking advantage of Koriyama city's registration as an Olympic host town for the Netherlands under a central government project aimed at promoting exchanges between local people and athletes coming for the Tokyo Games. (Translated by Kyodo News)