TOPICS June 2023

Experience of the Yuzuki Castle in the Warring States Period

To improve the appeal for the National Historic Site of Yuzuki Castle Ruins in Dogo Park in Matsuyama, the Ehime prefecture produced digital content explaining the historic site. The aim is to promote tours around the park and promote understanding of the value of the historic sites. People can see a video simulating Yuzuki Castle in the Warring States period, and enjoy the contrast with the current scenery. There are QR code signboards installed at five locations in the park, which can be scanned by smartphones and are available in English, Korean, and other languages. At the museum, people can experience images with VR goggles. It is scheduled to start operating fully during this summer vacation.

(May3, Ehime Shimbun)

Bond with Korea Grows from Cultural Exchange

On April 30, a Korean company dealing with energy and shipbuilding, the Hansan Group, held an opening ceremony in Matsuyama to establish their Ehime branch. They chose Ehime as a location because the group’s founder, Mr. Kim, has cultivated a bond with Ehime since participating 26 years ago in a program of the Ehime Global Citizens’ Association, which promotes exchanges between Japan and Korea. He was working for the LG Group in Korea.   He did a homestay in Ikata-cho, south-western Ehime, where he experienced daily life in Japan and introduced Korean culture to children during school visits. His then host father, Mr. Chikada, aged 69, was invited to the opening ceremony and recalled those days, saying Mr. Kim was a leader among the visiting Koreans as the other Koreans were university students.  It was a time when relations between Japan and Korea were cool, but Kim experienced warm exchanges with the people in Ehime and felt that it was important to communicate with Japanese people face-to-face. For more than 10 years after returning to Korea, he continued to interact with people in Ikata-cho. Last November, he launched the Hansan Group, with about 100 employees. It has branches in Tokyo and Tochigi, and is expanding into Vietnam and Europe. The Ehime branch has three people. The branch manager, Mr. Cho, aged 47, experienced staying in Ehime through the same program as Mr. Kim, in his university days and moved to Matsuyama after getting married. Mr. Kim said, “The basis of business is a relationship of trust. I want to continue to cherish our bond.”

(May1, Ehime Shimbun)

The Ainan Fishery Cooperative Becomes the First International BAP-Certified Facility for Red Sea Bream

This spring, a group led by the Ainan Fisheries Cooperative acquired Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification, one of the international certifications for farmed seafood, in an attempt to promote farmed red sea bream from Ainan (Ehime Prefecture) in the global market. This BAP certification is the world’s first for farmed red sea bream. The fisheries cooperative said, “For the future of the region, we would like to promote high-quality, reliably-sourced, and safe fish for export.”

The BAP certification is administered by the US-based Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) with the aim of maintaining a stable supply of healthy protein. Hatcheries, feed mills, fish farms, and processing plants are screened for environmental and social responsibility, the health of farmed fish and shellfish, and food safety.

According to the fishermen’s cooperative, exports to the United States, which began in 2019, continued even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and they are seeking further expansion. They decided to acquire BAP certification to differentiate themselves from others as awareness of food issues is increasing globally.

(May 1, Ehime Shimbun Online digest)

Further information:

The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) is an international nongovernmental organization dedicated to advancing responsible seafood practices through education, advocacy, and third-party assurances.

The Central Market Opens

The grand floor of Matsuyama Mitsukoshi, which has been undergoing renovation, was partially opened on April 2. There are six permanent stores selling ingredients produced in the Setouchi area and a seasonal diner. Many people are enjoying shopping there.

The area opened is named the Central Market and food items and sundries are sold. Mr. Toshi Ninomiya, President of the Central Market said that he believed that the attractive products would result in an increase of customers.

One of the stores the “Running Greengrocer” operated by Mr. Yuta Fujioka, 23 years old. He visits farms in Ehime, finds “This-is-it” products, and procures them. He is proud to sell vegetables and fruits which are organically produced without any pesticides. He said that he wanted to be a greengrocer of whom many customers will feel free to ask questions.

(April 29, Ehime Shimbun Online)

20% Decrease of Schools in Ehime in 20 Years

The number of elementary and jr. high schools in Ehime has decreased by about 20% in last 20 years.

The survey, which was conducted by Ehime Asahi Television, Inc. in cooperation with The Asahi Shimbun Company, was sent to the Boards of Education in all 20 cities and towns in Ehime.

The number of schools in 2002, 2012, and 2022 were compared. There were 503 schools in 2002, 469 in 2012, and 409 in 2022. The rate of decrease is 18.7%.

The highest decrease rate was marked by Ikata-cho, at 57.9%, from 19 schools to 8. Seiyo-city follows by 46.8%, then Ainan-cho by 44.8%, Ozu-city by 43.2% and Yawatahama-city by 40.7%. They are all located in Southern Ehime (Nanyo area). The population of this area has been rapidly declining. The reason is obvious – because of low birthrate.

Matsuyama city, which expanded by 1.5 times in size by a municipal merger in 2005, is the only city with an increase in the number of schools in Ehime. 15 have been added in last 20 years. The Board of Education in Matsuyama commented that the reason of the increase was considered not only due to the municipal merger, but also to the fact that families with small children are still living in the city.

(April 26, Asahi Shimbun Digital)

Ehime and Kochi Universities Selected for Project to Support Japanese Food

Ehime and Kochi Universities are establishing research facilities for industry-academia-government collaboration in agriculture and fisheries this year, and strengthening their research systems to help make Ehime and Kochi Prefectures leading food bases in Japan. The two universities jointly applied for and were granted two billion yen by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for this development project. The presidents of both universities announced the project at a press conference at Ehime University on April 24th.

The idea of the project is to enhance food research by leveraging the strengths of Ehime and Kochi, which rank first in the nation in terms of fish farming production and agricultural output value per unit area respectively, and to contribute to local industries while generating research funds on their own. Ehime University plans to build an Ecosystem Center (provisional name) in Matsuyama City by the end of this academic year, and Kochi University will proceed with the development of an aquaculture base to cultivate fish and shellfish on land.

To enhance the research capabilities of universities, the government has set up the “Universities for International Research Excellence” program to support schools aiming for global pre-eminence with investment profits obtained from a 10 trillion-yen university fund. A budget of 200 billion yen has been allocated for the promotion of core regional universities with distinctive research activities. Both universities were selected as one of 30 nationwide facility development projects.

(April 25, Asahi Shimbun Digital)