Japan provides meeting guests with ‘cool’ items

Besides tours, Ministry of Finance seeks to spread image of nation through traditional goods, cutting-edge technologies

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

For foreign ministers and others who have come to Tokyo to discuss international cooperation on difficult subjects such as the European debt crisis, the Japanese government has prepared some entertainment.

The office set up by the Ministry of Finance for the preparation of the IMF and World Bank meetings, which run through Oct. 14, announces such entertainment plans as tours to Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asakusa historical district on its website.

Under the “Hospitality Measures” section of the website, the office says the government has set up purikura booths at the Tokyo International Forum in the Yurakucho district, one of the venues for various events of the IMF and World Bank meetings.

Purikura refers to photo stickers. Purikura booths, often found in video game arcades, are popular among school-age girls in Japan who take photos with friends and put the stickers on mobile phones or other items.

“As one of the ‘Cool Japan’ gadgets, purikura booths will be set up within the Tokyo International Forum where participants can enjoy creating their own original photo stickers with the IMF/WB Annual Meetings,” the website says.

The website also says under its “Hospitality Measures” section that the government has also prepared gifts for meeting participants from all over the world. Such items are okiagari-koboshi (dolls that can’t get knocked down) and “Cool Japan” stationery.

Okiagari-koboshi are a 400-year-old folk craft of Fukushima Prefecture. They have been beloved as a symbol of unyielding spirit because they keep getting up.

The “cool” stationery items boast Japan’s fashionable cutting-edge technologies. Provided at each delegation’s work space in the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, these items, such as the staple-less stapler and tape glue are free to use and participants can take them home.

Virtual help desks are also found at suitable locations to help meeting participants find places and solve other needs, the website says under the “Hospitality Measures” section.