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Japanese city of Mine opens tourism office in Taiwan

TAIPEI -- The city of Mine in southwestern Japan inaugurated an office in Taipei yesterday to promote tourism and trade between the city and Taiwan.

The office is one of the first overseas offices established by a Japanese city government to facilitate tourism and trade exchanges, Mine Mayor Hiroshi Murata told reporters after the inauguration.

He said the idea of establishing an office in Taiwan took shape after his city and Central Taiwan's Nantou County signed an agreement last year to foster closer bilateral ties.

Kazunori Furukawa, who will head the office, said the Japanese city, which has a population of a little over 28,000, decided to open the Taipei office because of the “long-term friendly relations” between the two countries.

However, he added that there has been a decline in the number of Taiwanese visitors to the city in recent years and said the city hopes to revive the number of tourists from Taiwan.

During its peak 20 years ago, close to 100,000 Taiwanese tourists visited the city in southwestern Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture each year, said Noritaka Saito, president of a tourism association in Mine.

Last year, however, there were only around 3,000 visitors from Taiwan.

Furukawa said the office will focus on providing the local travel industry with the latest tourist information about the city.

Setting up the office will also allow officials to gain direct access to the preferences and needs of Taiwanese tourists so that they can provide services that cater specifically to tourists from Taiwan, he said.

In addition, the office will also carry out agricultural promotions, said Furukawa.

Mine is best known as the location of one of Japan's largest limestone karst plateaus — the Akiyoshidai — and of the country's longest limestone cave, the 8.9-km Akiyoshido.

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