Aomori Port Internationalization Committee

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Achievements
Aomori Port Internationalization Committee 2005 Activities
The Cruise Liner Amsterdam Enticed into Its First Call on Aomori Port
写真On October 17, 2005, Aomori invited in the Amsterdam, the largest vessel ever to moor since the port’s opening.
The Amsterdam was escorted into port by pleasure boats, and a welcome ceremony was held upon its arrival. At the ceremony, Miss Nebuta’s gave flower baskets and commemoratives to the captain and guests; Aomori citizens made passengers of the Amsterdam feel welcome with Nebuta musical performances and the traditional Japanese dance of Teodori. Additionally, to ensure that passengers could feel at ease walking through town, APIC assigned volunteer translators throughout the central shopping area. This was the first time for Aomori to have over 2,000 foreigners—1,400 passengers and over 600 staff—visit the city center all at once; many passengers and crew visited Aomori’s shopping areas and areas of interest. APIC caught sight of many people shopping and conversing with local residents, and in this way the Amsterdam’s mooring fostered both internationalization and regional revitalization. On the occasion of its setting sail, over 500 Aomori city residents waved pennants in prayer for the Amsterdam’s safe voyage while children held a Japanese taiko performance to see their guests off. The Amsterdam’s passengers also seemed very touched by Aomori’s welcome, and days later, the mayor received a letter of thanks written jointly by passengers and crew. This was surely a day to commemorate for Aomori.
Implementation of Welcome Events for Cruise Liners
写真Beginning with the Clipper Odyssey on May 11, 2005, a total of eight ships—including the Pacific Venus, Nippon Maru, and Asuka cruise ships—entered into Aomori port; around 3,500 passengers visited Aomori, and each time a welcome ceremony was held in our guests’ honor. Aomori’s welcome was received favorably among captains and passengers alike. They stated, “We are appreciative of Aomori’s warm welcome. We would like to come again next year, too.” Additionally, cruise captains returned the welcome by inviting Aomori residents onboard their vessels to share the splendor of cruise tours; in all, APIC conducted 4 onboard tours. Aomori residents were dazzled and amazed at the facilities, which they said rivaled luxury hotels, and voiced a desire to take a voyage by sea.
Aomori Port Cruise Seminar
写真APIC held a cruise seminar at an Aomori city hotel on September 30, 2005. Over 100 residents came to participate and listen to the keynote speakers: Mr. Kaku, assistant director of the International Shipping Division of the Maritime Bureau in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, gave a speech titled, “The Visit Japan Campaign and Promotion of Cruising.” Cruise Vacation Co., Ltd. President Eiko Kijima presented on the “Lure of Cruising and Future Outlooks.” Both speakers presented on cruising from a worldwide perspective.
Next, with the executive director of Kaiji Press Co., Ltd. as coordinator, a panel discussion titled “Aiming for Cruise Support Representative of Japan: Ports Which Cruise Lines Want to Visit” was held with Mr. Kaku, Mrs. Kijima, and Mr. Ishino, assistant general manager of Japan Cruise Line, Ltd. Many opinions were shared:
l “Ships which come around Alaska during the summer have the potential capacity to come to Japan in the future.” (Mr. Kaku / MLIT)
l “What many foreigners enjoy are chances to learn about the area’s culture through programs with experience-based tourism.” (Mrs. Kijima / Cruise Vacation Co., Ltd.)
l “The most important thing is that residents of Aomori have dedication and enthusiasm for the cruise ships to come.” (Mr. Ishino / Japan Cruise Line, Ltd.)
l and lastly, “Aomori is a very fine city with a newly built port right in the center of the city. Its port is on par and comparable with world ports, so I would like to see every possible effort made to attract cruise lines.” (Mr. Wakase / Kaiji Press Co., Ltd.)
Mr. Wakase’s comments summarized the seminar. The seminar was able to boost participants’ understanding and interest in cruising.
Visiting Cruise Lines Abroad for Sales
写真From November 13 to 18, APIC secretary-general Masato Watanabe (Nippon Express Aomori Branch Manager) led a group to the U.S.A. to visit 4 cruise lines. The group conducted port sales for Aomori Port by introducing its tourism resources and places of interest.
Participation in the Japan Cruise Symposium
写真As one of the goals for the Visit Japan Campaign (VJC)—a project geared towards increasing the number of foreigners visiting Japan—2006 was posited as the “First Year of Cruising in Japan” and the Japan Cruise Symposium was the kick-off event of the year. MLIT invited leading figures of six foreign cruise lines to the symposium to discuss 1) what measures need to be taken to promote Japanese ports abroad and 2) what is it that cruise lines demand in a calling port. During discussions, Simon Douwes of Holland America Line mentioned, “The welcome we received coming into port on the Amsterdam was amazing, and it made me want to come again.” Additionally, during a business meeting held the next day, there was an opportunity to present to the participating foreign cruise lines, at which APIC lobbied for port calls to Aomori Port.
Participation in the World’s Largest Cruise Convention for the Third Time
写真As a part of the Visit Japan Campaign (VJC) project, APIC again participated in public relations for Japan at the 2006 Sea Trade, Cruise, & Shipping Convention, a convention held every March in Miami, Florida.
Along with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), VJC Bureau, and the other participating regional ports—Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, and Hiroshima—the Japanese booth offered Japanese sake and sweets to foreign cruise lines in a show of Japan’s lure as a cruise destination. Japan also held a press conference solely for the purpose of promoting Japan’s ports. Moreover, APIC visited cruise lines in Miami to set up future port calls to Aomori and to provide an overview of Aomori Port and tourist information.
"Possibility of Establishing International Ferry Routes" Investigative Study Report
写真On the two separate occasions of December 8, 2005, and March 27, 2006, debriefings were held in Aomori city to report on the possibility of establishing an international ferry route between Aomori and Vladivostok.
This meeting was held to review the possibility of actualizing a ferry route based on the results of the “Review/Inquiry into Aomori International Cargo Logistics Strategy,” executed over a two-month period in 2003. In this relevant forum, many issues voiced in the review were discussed, with the two largest being: 1) ferry route implementation profitability and 2) the necessity for an inquiry into corporatization potential (a feasibility study).

●Interim Report
19 people participated in the December 8th debriefing, centered around APIC organizers and including others such as Aomori Customs Commissioner Mr. Miyamoto; Mr. Kawamura, a researcher from the Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia (ERINA); and Ivan Alexeyev, assistant director of the Far-Eastern Marine Research Design and Technology Institute (FEMRI). At the start of the meeting, Mr. Kawamura of ERINA stated: The current situations reveals that the Russian province of Primorskiy wants to cooperate with Aomori to open up a ferry route; that Russia wants not just Japanese used cars, but also Japanese machinery—especially construction machinery; that currently the ferry connecting Russia and South Korea has a 7,000 TEU* cargo capacity and that there are comings and goings of people from both countries; and that they are looking to expand the size of the vessels. He also reported on the current state of the Sakhalin-Wakkanai ferry. Assistant director Ivan Alexeyev of FEMRI had this to say: Russia does not yet have the logistical network to proficiently meet demands. Advancing interactions with Aomori will contribute greatly to the future development of Primorskiy. Mr. Kawamura also report on what he had learned from this inquiry: Both Russia and China want to sell chicken and water to Japan. There are many small businesses wanting to deepen their connections; these are not dealings between conglomerated corporations. In this day and age, speed is the advantage—not only in relation to foodstuffs—which is why establishing a ferry route has many possibilities logistically. Additionally, Russia is considering not only cargo, but they are also showing interest in tourism between Russia and Japan. Participants voiced their opinion, too. They lamented, “If only there were a place for the people of Aomori and Russia to interact and communicate on trade.”
●Main Report
The March 27th debriefing was held with APIC director Mr. Masato Watanabe and 13 APIC members and two members of ERINA—special researcher Mr. Mitsuhashi and researcher Mr. Kawamura. Firstly, Mr. Mitsuhashi of ERINA reported: Hypothetically, if we were to charter ferries, we would need between 3-4 million yen a year. The amount of cargo necessary to turn a profit would be 40-50 TEU* a week, and at the present time there is potential to create profit if a shipping route were created. However, it will take 1-2 years’ time after opening for cargo traffic to stabilize, and we need to come up with a lifeline for that period. The debriefing continued by exchanging opinions centered on clarifying the whereabouts of risk, the issue of contracting with Russia, and the issue surrounding the security of cargo. Lastly, the department chief of Aomori City’s Shinkansen, Harbor, and Airport Divison, Mr. Suzuki, closed the meeting with these words: “Aomori must aim to establish a shipping route by continuing to lobby for Russia itself to create the route and only then provide the support necessary.” *TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit): an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals.

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