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Guidelines for Promoting Internationalization in Wakayama Prefecture

  1. The Process of Establishing Guidelines
    In order to effect the comprehensive promotion of internationalization in Wakayama Prefecture, the deepening of international understanding of citizens, and regional vitalization through international exchange in a variety of fields, the “Guidelines for Promoting International Exchange in Wakayama Prefecture” were established in 1991. In 1996 the “Guidelines for Promoting International Cooperation” were established to further promote international cooperation projects, and the realization of internationalization was actively pursued.

    When the objective year for both of these guidelines passed in 2001, these “Guidelines for Promoting Internationalization in Wakayama Prefecture” were established to create new policies for the internationalization of Wakayama in the future.

  2. Background for the New Guidelines
    As the freedom of international travel increases and the costs of transport decrease, the exchange of international people and things is rapidly increasing.
    Also, with the fall of the Soviet Union in the 90s and the economic liberalization of eastern European countries we are advancing towards a world market. With the establishment of the WTO in 1995, the lowering of tariffs and abolition of trade barriers continued, and free trade in one giant world market became possible.
    With the liberalization of international communication such as international telephones, low cost communication became possible. In particular, the rapid development of the Internet made the cheap and easy exchange of large amounts of information between individuals possible. With this came an increase in tourism to Wakayama, particularly from East Asia.
    Also the foreigners living in Japan steadily increased, and foreign students continued to increase.
    This increase of international exchange of people, things and information had a great effect on the internationalization of municipalities.
    In 1994 Kansai International Airport opened, and international flights became more convenient for Wakayama. In 1996 annual international travelers exceeded 10 000 people. In 1998 the Wakayama International Exchange Association opened as a headquarters for international exchange in the Prefecture. In these ways internationalization measures steadily developed.

  3. The State of Affairs of Internationalization in Wakayama Prefecture
    Wakayama Prefecture currently has sister ties with Shandong Province, China; Pyrenees-Orientales, France; Florida, USA; Sinaloa, Mexico; and Galicia, Spain. Active exchanges are taking place in economic, cultural and various other fields. Sister relationships are also being established between municipalities in Wakayama and regions abroad.
    Many people have emigrated abroad from Wakayama. Kenjinkai, groups of immigrants whose families are from Wakayama, have been established all over the American continent, and exchanges of people and information are actively taking place.
    Also, researchers and students from developing countries come to Wakayama to cooperate towards mutual understanding and the economic development of developing countries.
    Additionally, Wakayama invites young foreigners to be Assistant Language Teachers in junior high and high schools, and engage in exchanges with local citizens.

  4. Basic Guidelines
    As the exchange of international information, people and things becomes larger and faster, we are entering an age where international exchange activities are becoming the responsibility of every citizen. The success of Wakayama’s international exchange activities depends on its citizens. It is imperative that in the future, a system is put into place whereby citizens take an active role in international exchange activities and the government gives support. The Prefecture aims to promote internationalization from this perspective in the future, and to meet new challenges that come with internationalization while promoting internationalization measures with the keywords “Cultivating People”, “Building a Foundation”, “Building an Environment”, “Building Networks”, and “Promoting International Cooperation”.

    1. Cultivating People
      In order to interact with people from all over the world it is necessary to have ability in foreign languages, knowledge of other countries, and an attitude of tolerance towards different cultures. It is also necessary to have a sense of your own identity, and be proud of, and knowledgeable about, your own home. We are working to cultivate people with this kind of disposition, people capable of engaging in international activities.

    2. Building a Foundation
      The opening of Kansai International Airport was the most important part of laying the foundation for internationalization in Wakayama Prefecture. The Wakayama International Exchange Association, a center for international exchange activities in the Prefecture, was also set up. Also, the foundation is being steadily maintained by the establishment of sister and friendship relations with 5 regions from other countries. We hope to ensure smooth and varied international exchanges by citizens in the future by continuing to carefully improve this foundation.

    3. Building an Environment
      With internationalization comes an increase of foreigners living in Wakayama, for work, study, training, etc. Problems due to different languages, customs, values and culture may arise, however. We are building a society that respects different cultures and human rights, and helps deepen mutual understanding while warmly welcoming foreigners to the region.

    4. Building Networks
      As the responsibility for international exchange moves from the government to the citizens, volunteer organizations that actively cooperate and engage in activities and friendly relations with overseas groups are becoming important. In order for these organizations to develop properly we are actively promoting networks that facilitate support, connections with other groups around the country, and exchange with groups abroad.

      Also, with the development of the borderless economy it is becoming more important for businesses in the Prefecture to export abroad, deal with businesses from other countries and develop international economic exchange. We are developing new international economic networks that support these kind of economic activities.

    5. Promoting International Cooperation
      With the development of the world wide economy come problems that can only be solved by global-scale solutions, such as measures to deal with global warming. Also, it is essential that Wakayama participates in international cooperation to help end problems such as the disparity in wealth with developing nations.


  5. Policies
    The following policies are being developed based on the above basic guidelines.

    1. Cultivating People Responsible for Internationalization

      ①  Promotion of Foreign Language Education
      In order to provide more opportunities for language education in schools, foreign language (not just English) classes are being increased. We are also promoting foreign language education of students and children by inviting Assistant Language Teachers from foreign countries through the JET Program.
      Opportunities for language study for citizens are also being increased to help support international activities.

      ②  Promotion of International Understanding Education
      In order to promote mutual understanding with foreign countries and cultivate a spirit of tolerance and respect for different cultures, we are providing opportunities to learn about the economic situation, lifestyle, culture, religion, etc. of other countries through things like international understanding workshops at the Wakayama International Exchange Association.

      ③  Raising Leaders
      In order to promote citizen level international exchange it is important to cultivate leaders who are willing to take an active role. Through workshops, classes and events at the Wakayama International Exchange Association, and by working with other NPOs in the Prefecture, we are discovering and cultivating leaders.

      ④  Cultivating Volunteers
      In order to advance citizen level international exchange we have international volunteer registration systems and are actively cultivating volunteers. Furthermore, we will continue to increase levels of volunteer involvement such as home stays, cooperation at international events, etc., and advance international exchange through the vitality of our citizens.

    2. Building a Foundation for Internationalization

      ①  Strengthening relations with sister regions.
      By making use of existing sister and friendship relationships with 5 regions abroad, deepening exchanges, supporting sister and friendship relationships between municipalities, schools, etc., and promoting friendship events, citizens are getting more opportunities for international exchange.

      ②  Strengthening cooperation with overseas Kenjinkai
      There are many associations of immigrants from Wakayama (Kenjinkai) in North and South America. By exchanging information with these associations we are strengthening the foundation for international exchange with the American continent.

      ③  Growth of the Wakayama International Exchange Association and the activities at the Wakayama International Exchange Center
      We are making full use of the Wakayama International Exchange Center, the headquarters for international exchange activities in the Prefecture. We are also supporting the activities of the Wakayama International Exchange Association, which manages the center.

      ④  Providing international relations information
      To provide necessary information for international exchange activities we provide books and videos at the Wakayama International Exchange Center and information online and in public relations magazines.

      ⑤  Strengthening cooperation with the Kansai consulates
      By strengthening cooperation with the consulates of various countries we are ensuring that international activities run smoothly and collecting important information about other countries.

      ⑥  Strengthening cooperation with students, trainees etc. who have returned to their countries
      By keeping in close contact with students and trainees who were invited to study and train in Wakayama we are laying the foundation for exchange with other countries.

      ⑦  Strengthening information collection and cooperation with the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR)
      By making use of CLAIR’s information networks of we are working to get important information from abroad.

    3. Creating a Welcoming Environment for Foreigners

      ①  Developing exchange with foreigners in Wakayama
      Already events are held by WIXAS and various municipalities to promote exchange between foreigners and citizens. We are also creating more opportunities for exchange by promoting volunteer associations.

      ②  Development of foreign language materials
      In order to create an environment convenient for foreigners visiting Wakayama we are creating foreign language guidebooks, brochures, etc., and promoting the use of foreign languages on road signs and in public facilities. We are also promoting health care welfare services that foreigners can make use of.

      ③  Promoting international understanding courses
      With the help of foreigners in Wakayama, International understanding courses are held, mostly at WIXAS, to help citizens get a deeper understanding of foreign culture and customs. We are also making full use of comprehensive study time at schools to provide opportunities for international understanding.

      ④  Developing consultation services for foreigners
      Consultation days are held periodically at WIXAS to provide information to foreigners in the Prefecture. We are planning to put important information in a database and provide information regarding disaster prevention, etc.

      ⑤ Japanese culture and language classes
      Japanese culture and language classes are held for foreigners at WIXAS to help foreigners communicate effectively and smoothly.

    4. Creating an International Exchange Network

      ①  Supporting private international exchange groups
      We are actively supporting citizen involvement in international exchange activities, particularly activities with regions with sister and friendship relationships.

      ② Supporting volunteer groups
      We are providing information about interpreting, home staying, and other volunteer opportunities and building, supporting, and connecting private volunteer organizations that work towards international exchange.

      ③  Promoting exchange with private organizations
      We are supporting exchanges with organizations in sister and friendship regions to promote international exchange in culture, sports, education and a variety of fields.

      ④  Promoting economic exchanges with regions with sister and friendship relationships
      We are promoting cooperation and exchanges of important information with businesses abroad to improve the economy with economic exchanges with regions with sister and friendship relationships with Wakayama.

    5. Promoting International Cooperation

      ①  Promoting visiting technical trainees and students
      We are welcoming visiting students and trainees to universities, businesses and other groups to promote regional international contributions. We are continuing our efforts with the help of citizens and local businesses.

      ②  Supporting visiting students
      We are providing comprehensive support to visiting students to make their stay easier, with things like health care.

      ③  Cooperating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency
      We are promoting cooperation with JICA by supporting their volunteer activities in developing countries.

      ④  Sending employees abroad
      We are promoting the dispatch of prefectural and municipal employees to developing countries for technical leadership, etc.
Established March 11, 2003