Japan is spending and primping before big G8 event

July 5th, 2008 - 9:55 am ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, July 5 (DPA) Japan’s northern town of Toyako is known for its beautiful green surroundings, blue lake and majestic mountains, but despite its natural beauty the area is still getting some touch ups ahead of the G8 summit meeting July 7-9. National flags of participating states are flying along the main road connecting Sapporo and Rusutsu to welcome diplomats from the G8 and outreach nations, while local residents and shop-owners planted marigold flowers along the streets of Toyako and other towns.

Hotel concierges and volunteers are busy polishing their language skills and warm smiles to welcome visitors. Shops have prepared special T-shirts, towels, snacks and beers with the summit logos printed on them as souvenirs.

Since the 2,000 delegates from the world’s seven economic powers and Russia, and other nations, are expected to focus their discussion on climate change, the host nation has introduced some environmental measures in time for the big day.

In and around the summit venue, dual-mode vehicles, which can run both on a train track and a road, and gasoline-electric hybrid cars will transport visitors, Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

For the big days, the transport ministry has saved some 30 tonnes of ploughed snow from Shin-Chitose Airport over the winter to cool the 170-sq-metre press room. From July 1-10, the ministry hopes to cut about a tonne of carbon dioxide emitted from air-conditioners by blowing in cool air from the snow.

The demand for a wireless environment could be a potential headache, especially for the 4,000 media representatives expected to attend to dispatch news stories.

Hokkaido’s local telecommunications company has been working hard to set up an infrastructure in Rusutsu, where the international media centre is located. The cost to set up the media centre is said to be about 2.8 billion yen ($25.92 million), which includes 100 antennas that went up for mobile phones, according to a broadband television station Channel J.

To show Japan’s hospitality, some 90 million yen (about $843, 930) was spent to build a brand-new VIP lounge at Hokkaido’s Shin-Chitose Airport, one that the foreign delegates are expected to spend only a few moments in before catching a charter transit to Toyako.

The building is to be demolished after the summit.

Still the total cost of the three-day summit, estimated at 60 billion yen ($562.62 million), is a bargain compared to the previous summit in Japan’s southern-most island of Okinawa eight years ago which cost about 82 billion yen (about $769 million), according to the foreign ministry.

Roughly 25 billion yen of the total cost was for communication technology, infrastructure and other facilities rental costs. Some 30 billion yen was for personnel and equipment for the ministry and police force, the ministry said.

The summit is not all about stressful discussions and tight security.

To satisfy the taste buds of important delegations, 50 chefs from 23 local hotels gathered to create the special meals to energize diners using 105 different local products. Hokkaido is known for its fresh seafood, as well as other agricultural products such as potatoes and asparagus.

To quench the thirst of the delegation and the environment, Kirin and Sapporo decided to jointly deliver their beer and soft drinks to cut 375 truckloads equivalent of 24.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.

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