During his stay in Tokyo, the Director-General was received by the Emperor and Empress as well as the Crown Prince of Japan. He also held talks with Mr Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan; Mr Masahiko Koumura, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr Bunmei Ibuki, Minister of Finance; Mr Tsuneo Suzuki, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Mr Sadakazu Tanigaki, Minister of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; Mr Kaoru Yosano, Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy and for Regulatory Reform; and Mr Nobutaka Machimura, Chief Cabinet Secretary. During these meetings the Director-General expressed his appreciation for Japan’s support to the Organization and expressed his wish to continue seeking ways to strengthen cooperation. Mr Matsuura also paid visits to Mr Shinzo Abe and Mr Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Ministers of Japan, Mr Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan and other authorities from the Japanese Parliament and Government.
The Director-General attended the Steering Meeting of the Japanese National Commission to UNESCO on 26 August, during which he highlighted the needs to further enhance the cooperation between UNESCO and Japan based on the Medium-Term Strategy for 2008-2013. Mr Matsuura also underscored the importance to involve more actively youth, local communities and private sector in UNESCO activities.
On 27 August, Mr Matsuura opened the 2008 annual UNESCO/UNU International Conference on “Globalization and Languages - Building on our Rich Heritage” in the presence of Professor Konrad Osterwalder, UNU Rector, and high representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Sciences and Technology of Japan (see Flash Info N° 105-2008).
On the following day, 28 August, the Director-General and the President of the Asahi Shimbun, one of the leading newspaper publishers in Japan, Mr Kotaro Akiyama, signed a Media Partnership Agreement through which they will collaborate to raise awareness about intangible cultural heritage among the general public worldwide (see Flash Info N°104-2008).
Mr Matsuura opened a joint seminar on 29 August, organized by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the World Heritage Centre on the theme of the “World Heritage and Public Works – Development Cooperation for Poverty Alleviation”, together with the Governor of the JBIC, Mr Koji Tanami.
The Director-General also visited Kyoto on 29 August, where he was invited to attend the millennium event of the “Tale of Genji” held at the Kamigamo shrine, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
On 30 August, Mr Matsuura travelled to Gifu Prefecture and toured Sirakawa village, exploring a harmonious landscape with the traditional architecture that had led to Shirakawa’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. This visit to provincial cities of Japan provided an opportunity for the Director-General to discuss with leaders of local governments how UNESCO could strengthen cooperation with local communities.
On the occasion of this visit to Japan, Mr Matsuura designated Hakuho, Mongolian grand champion of Sumo (yokozuna) as UNESCO Champion for Sport (see Flash Info N°111-2008). Throughout his visit, the Director-General was interviewed by several major Japanese Media including the Yomiuri Newspaper, Nikkei Newspaper, Mainichi Newspaper and Kyodo Press. In both Tokyo and Nara, Mr Matsuura gave lectures on his recently published book ‘World Heritage’, gathering large audiences.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 114-2008 - Publication Date: 09-09-2008