I made an inspection tour around the eastern region of Hokkaido to observe scenic sites, and the visit was fruitful. While Hokkaido is a vast land, natural heritage sites, in the eastern region in particular, such as Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, and Lake Kussharo, blessed with nature, are thoroughly protected by the cooperative management and operation among the Ministry of the Environment, Hokkaido prefectural office, and the local governments.
While on the one hand these natural heritage sites are strictly protected, on the other hand their roles are expected as tourism resources and special means for the revitalization of regional economies. More specifically, they are expected to play the most important role to accomplish the Project to Fully Enjoy National Parks which aims at increasing the number of inbound tourists’ visit to national parks up to 10 million by 2020.
With regard to a new act that recognizes the Ainu as the indigenous people of Japan, which became effective on May 24 this year, the Japanese government started to preserve Ainu culture and their traditional customs in earnest. I exchanged views with Mr. Suzuki, Governor of Hokkaido Prefecture, on this subject.
During this travel, I encountered an unexpected summer heat. It made me realize that global warming is affecting Hokkaido just the same as other parts of Japan, and heatstroke prevention is just as important in Hokkaido.