TOPICS March 2023

Dispatch to Turkey for Medical Support

On February 13, Ehime Prefecture announced that a nurse working for the Prefectural Hospital would be dispatched to Turkey as a member of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to provide medical support after the earthquake occurred.

Toru Takeda aged 55, was assigned among about 70 members of Japan Disaster Relief Team Medical Team to go until early March. He is expected to set up temporary operating and dialysis rooms, and to create manuals for the procurement and operation of materials and equipment. He is qualified as an instructor for the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). Previously he worked in the Philippines after a typhoon in 2013. He was also engaged in disaster medical care after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Kumamoto Earthquake, and heavy rains in western Japan.

(February 14, Ehime Shimbun)

Toys to Ukraine from Children in Ehime

“We hope the children of war get their smile back.” “We want our toys to make Ukrainian children smile.” Students from elementary and junior high schools in the prefecture, who wish to provide some happiness to people suffering in war, gave toys to Tadashi Nakaya (57), Coordinator for International Understanding (Matsuyama City). Nakaya left for neighboring Poland on February 4 to deliver the toys to Ukrainian children through the local people involved. He is scheduled to stay until February 14 and will help the local Japanese to take the toys to the Ukrainian children who are in Poland.

Nakaya, who has traveled around 80 countries and regions, gives lectures at schools on themes such as “life” and “SDGs” (Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations).

Gathering the toys for Ukrainian children started in mid-January. On January 27, he gave a talk to about 70 sixth-grade students at Kitakume Elementary School in the city. Nakaya then introduced a Japanese person in Poland who is helping with humanitarian aid for Ukraine. He said that children, who haven’t been able to play outside for a long time because of Russia’s invasion, are very happy to receive the Japanese toys, and added “Your help can cheer up the Ukrainian children.”

Two days previously, Nakaya gave a talk to the fifth-grade students of the same school. On January 27, 15 children brought miniature cars, puzzles, marbles, and other toys.

Before leaving Japan, toys were collected from more than 10 elementary and junior high schools in the prefecture. Nakaya stated that he wanted to provide as much support as possible to the children in Ukraine and Ehime”.

(February 8, Ehime Shimbun Online Digest)

Ambassador of Iraq Visited Matsuyama Higashi High

His Excellency Mr. Abdul Kareem Toma Mehdi KAAB, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, visited Matsuyama Higashi High school on February 5. 22 students deepened their understanding of the history and culture of Iraq through a speech and talking session.

H.E. Mr. Kaab came to Matsuyama for official and personal reasons. His connection with Ms. Rie Okawa who teaches a class about refugees at the school prompted him to visit here.

H.E. Mr. Kaab introduced not only basic information on Iraq such as population and weather, but also characteristic culture such as houses made by reed grass in the marsh surrounded by both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. He emphasized that it is very important to care about people with different backgrounds cultures, and religions, and develop mutual understanding with them.

(February 5, Ehime Shimbun Online)

Jeju Air will Resume Flight to Seoul

Ehime prefecture announced that flights between Matsuyama and Seoul, which were cancelled since March 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic, will resume on March 26. All the three international flights out of Matsuyama airport were cancelled, and the Seoul route will be the first one to come back.

According to the prefecture, there will be three flights a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, as it was before the pandemic. It leaves Incheon airport in Seoul at 1:05 pm and arrives at Matsuyama airport at 2:35 pm. The return flight will leave Matsuyama at 3:25 pm, arriving at Incheon at 4:55 pm. The plane used will be a Boeing 737-800 (189 seats).

Governor Nakamura commented that he expected this first resumption of regular international flight service would contribute to improvement of the convenience of the local people, quick recovery of both inbound and outbound tourism markets, and acceleration of the prefecture’s economy. as a result.

The Seoul route was launched by Jeju Air in November 2011. It maintained a high passenger load, in spite of a deterioration of bilateral relations. It was almost 80% in 2019 before the pandemic, and was 80-90% in 2018.

As for other international routes, the one to Shanghai will be canceled until March 25, and the one to Taipei until October 28. The prefecture encourages them to resume as soon as possible.

The utilization and promotion committee of Matsuyama Airport also announced that charter flights from Taipei for inbound tourism will be operated by Eva Air on March 26, 27, 30, and 31, and April 3, 4, 7, and 8. There will be one roundtrip per operation day leaving Taipei at 9:25 am and arriving in Matsuyama at 0:45 pm. The return flight will leave Matsuyama at 2:05 pm and arrive in Taipei at 3:55 pm.

(February 3, Ehime Shimbun Online)

New Tour of the Seiyo Geopark

The Seiyo Tourist Association held a progress report session in the city on February 1st on the development of a new tour to make the most of the Shikoku Seiyo Geopark, which includes the Shikoku Karst and Rias Coast, for tourism. Yomiuri Travel Service is planning a tour in 2023 based on a trial tour conducted last December and a survey conducted by Ehime University students.

Seiyo City was certified as a Japanese Geopark in 2013, but attracting tourists has been a challenge. In 2022, the association began considering new tours with Yomiuri Travel Service and Seki, a local printing company, as a subsidized project of the Japan Tourism Agency. Six students from Ehime University conducted a field survey in places such as Unomachi, designated as an important preservation district for groups of traditional buildings, and the Nomura Silk Museum.

At the progress report session, a representative from Yomiuri Travel mentioned the high level of satisfaction with washi (traditional handmade Japanese paper) experience in the survey. Further, he added that they needed to make a package tour and to collaborate with the entire Nanyo area (southern part of Ehime) because of the inconvenience of transportation in Seiyo City. Also, the representative from Seki explained that they would release a video on YouTube promoting the Geopark and that they had developed a new dessert.

The students who conducted the survey suggested sightseeing courses using electric bicycles, saying that a new tour should provide several plans for young people, adults and seniors, and that the experiences should be memorable.

(February 2, Yomiuri Shimbun Online)

Further information (Seiyo Geopark): (also available in English)

Young Generation Interacting with Korean Students

On January 27, 18 high school students from South Korea visited Matsuyama to deepen friendships with local university and high school students. On a four-day trip to Japan, the students visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and other places, before they visited Matsuyama Castle and Ehime University’s on-campus museum with students from Ehime University and Matsuyama Shinonome High School. They introduced food culture to each other using their smartphone translation apps, and talked about Japanese anime and K-pop.

The Korean students stayed with seven families in the city and returned to their country on the 28th. Students visited Japan in 2018 and 2019 but was since suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have continued to communicate online. A second-year high school student from Korea, who visited Japan for the first time, said, “To be honest, I had anti-Japanese sentiments, but there are many kind Japanese people who are interested in South Korea. If I hadn’t actually met them, my feelings might not have changed.” A first-year student at Ehime University said, “I learned that Korean students want to interact with us. I felt it was important to understand the differences in ways of thinking.”

(January 28, Ehime Shimbun)