KUCHING: Sarawak welcomes opportunities to expand co-operation with Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture particularly in tourism and youth and cultural exchanges, said state Tourism Minister Datuk Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg.
The existing co-operation in forestry between the two states, he said, could be a starting point for greater linkages.
“We want to expand this co-operation to enable more cultural and educational exchanges between Japanese and Sarawakian students as well as to cover tourism,” he said when receiving a delegation from the Hiroshima-Sarawak Friendship Association at his office here on Friday.
“We want more students from Japan to come here and learn about our culture and do research on our natural resources. At the same time, more Sarawakians can go over to Japan and benefit from their educational programmes,” he added.
To foster closer links, Abang Johari said, both sides could explore the possibilities of direct flights between the Sarawak and Japan.
“For example, the delegation has proposed a direct flight between Fukuoka, where there is an international airport, and Miri, which is closer to Japan. Miri could then become a gateway to Sarawak for Japanese visitors,” he said.
He added that Japanese tourists, especially couples on their honeymoon, were welcome to come to Sarawak to plant trees and have their names placed alongside the trees.
Delegation leader Yamaki Yasuo, a prefecture assemblyman who is also honorary chairman of the Hiroshima-Sarawak Friendship Association, said the association would like to promote cultural and youth exchanges between Hiroshima and Sarawak.
The association was formed two years ago but its members had come to Sarawak many times in the past, mainly to plant trees in co-operation with the state’s Forestry Department.
Its members were also involved in planting the Stutong Japanese Garden at the Sama Jaya Forest Park here.
The seven-member delegation, which arrived here on Thursday and leaves today, also visited the Mulu National Park and the Semenggoh Wildlife Reserve.
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