JAPANESE  ENGLISH

PEOPLE

2018.03.23
Vol.24

Preparations Proceed for the Development of Exciting Touring Routes to See the World Heritage Sites - The Promotion Council Conveys their Attractions to the World through Various Promotions!

Mr. Susumu Ishihara

Chairman, Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution World Heritage Route Promotion Council Director, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Susumu Ishihara
PROFILE

Date of birth: April 30, 1945
Academic background: July 1969, graduates the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law

Brief personal history: 
July 1969 Joins Japanese National Railways
April 1987 Manager, Corporate Supervision Office, Corporate Planning Headquarters, Kyushu Railway Company (KRC)
June 1990 General Manager of the Administration Department, KRC
June 1993 Director & General Manager of the Administration Department, KRC
June 1995 Director, Deputy Director General of Railway Operations Headquarters, KRC
June 1996 Director & Senior Manager of the Affiliated Business Division, KRC
June 1997 Managing Director in charge of Accounting Division and Audit Office, KRC
January 2001 Managing Director, KRC, concurrently serving as
Director General of the Corporate Planning Division as well as
Manager of the Administration Department in charge of Tokyo & Okinawa regions and JR Kyushu Hospital
June 2001 Senior Managing Director, KRC, concurrently serving as
Director General of the Corporate Planning Division as well as
Manager of the Administration Department in charge of Tokyo & Okinawa regions and JR Kyushu Hospital
June 2002 President & Representative Director, KRC
June 2009 Representative Director and Chairman, KRC
June 2012 Director and Chairman, KRC
June 2014 Senior Advisor, KRC

Other major positions:
Vice-chairman of the Kyushu Economic Federation
Chairman of the Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization
Chair of the Fukuoka City Foundation for Arts and Cultural Promotion
President of the Kyushu Economic Forum
Honorary Consul-General of the Republic of Turkey in Fukuoka
Chair of Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) Board of Governors
Others

ーーYou are on the board of the National Congress of Industrial Heritage and chair the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution Route Promotion Council. In this position, you have been working to develop tour routes of the sites, train guides who can explain each of the component assets, and otherwise promote the World Heritage sites. Could you start by explaining the objectives of the Route Promotion Council and something about its members?

As you know, this serial World Heritage comprises 23 components spread out over eight prefectures and 11 cities. We want visitors who come to see these components to understand the significance of each asset and how it contributes to the whole. At the same time, if the stories behind each component are too complicated, no one is going to bother to listen (laughs).

To remedy this, we are working to create World Heritage tour courses that will be entertaining and educational at the same time, and this job has been assigned to the Route Promotion Council established the year before last (2016). The Council members include representatives from each of the local administrations where the sites are located (8 prefectures and 11 cities), the private corporations whose facilities and equipment have been classified as industrial heritage assets (Shimadzu Limited, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and others), railway companies (JR East Japan Railway Company, Central Japan Railway Company, West Japan Railway Company , Kyushu Railway Company, and others), airline companies, expressway companies, operators of the Michi-no-eki expressway rest stops, bus and taxi companies, tourism-related businesses, and local chambers of commerce for a total of 122 organizations. Included among the local administration groups are representatives from the four cities of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Tagawa and Iizuka in Fukuoka, and Karatsu in Saga. There are as well observers from the Cabinet Secretariat, Japan Tourism Agency, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and other government ministries and offices.

ーーThat is a truly “All-Japan” council. Tell us something about what the Council has done so far and what you have focused on in your efforts.

The most important aspect of our work has been disseminating information about the World Heritage tour routes. This covers transportation available from train stations and airports to the World Heritage sites and information on nearby attractions. More specifically, we have worked to create a uniform logo to mark road routes, information pamphlets and sightseeing maps, websites and smartphone apps, and on-site interpretation services (guides and explanations).
We are also working to disseminate information overseas and in 2016, we participated in the Taipei International Travel Fair held in Taiwan. I consider these kinds of promotional activities to be very important.

At our general meeting in November 2017, we presented a letter of appreciation to local organizations in recognition of their promotional initiatives and have been encouraging efforts to accelerate such activities.

■Uniform Logo on Road Signs at More than 290 Locations

ーーThe National Congress of Industrial Heritage has begun offering the smartphone app to the public. What progress is being made on the road signs?

As of our general meeting in November last year, we had completed 270 signs and it was reported that we should have 291 signs in place by the end of March 2018. We have filmed and posted on Facebook and Instagram a promotion video of a classic car tour of the Kosuge Slip Dock and other World Heritage components in Kyushu and are pursuing promotional activities directed at tourists from overseas.

ーーAs the chair of the Route Promotion Council, what do you consider to be most important?

Creating a sense of unity that links all the components is the most important thing. They are so widely scattered, from Kamaishi in Iwate to Shoko Shuseikan in Kagoshima. I’m told if you travel by car to all the components, excluding those on outlying islands, you would cover 2,380 kilometers (laughs). The component sites in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi regions are clustered in a relatively smaller area. Still, we need to make a greater effort to tie all the components— including Kamaishi and the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces in Izunokuni City in Shizuoka Prefecture—together as one World Heritage.

ーーA question in relation to that: Would it be possible to have the JR railway companies cooperate, for example, to have JR Kyushu Railway Company’s luxury excursion train, the Seven Stars in Kyushu, make a Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution tour that covers not only Kyushu but all the way to Kamaishi ? This is just a suggestion, a personal dream of mine (laughs).

That’s an interesting idea but mapping a route and setting a schedule could be difficult. In any case, how many people would be willing to travel the whole 2,400 kilometers? Who knows how many days it would take to see all the sites (laughs)?Still, there might be some people who would treat it like a Shikoku Pilgrimage of the 88 temples to make several different trips until they had visited all the component sites. In that respect, it becomes clear that in addition to creating routes to all of the component sites, we also need to develop other kinds of tourism resources, including places to stay.

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Chairman, Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution World Heritage Route Promotion Council Director, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

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