Tokyo tries PR blitz to raise international profile

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has started distributing PR footage of the capital to TV stations in Asian countries as part of the effort to raise its international profile.

The first video, on the elite Tokyo Fire Department Hyper Rescue Team, is being aired beginning this week on news programs in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and India in their local languages, according to the metropolitan government.

“We started with what we can do” to improve overseas public relations activities, said Noriko Naito, chief of the PR division in the Citizens and Cultural Affairs Bureau. “And that is to provide a few minutes of footage to Southeast Asian countries and India” with the cooperation of a Japanese TV station.

Naito said the videos, to be distributed six times with different themes by the end of March 2015, will feature Tokyo and the activities of the metropolitan government.

The rescue team was chosen as the first subject partly because people in countries that are often hit by natural disasters have a great deal of interest in disaster control, Naito said. The next footage, to be aired next week, will touch on Tokyo’s history through an introduction of the city’s cultural facilities, she said.

Naito also said the metropolitan government’s website, which currently has practical information for residents in English, Chinese and Korean, will be beefed up and become a portal site to inform people overseas about the capital.

“Our website will possibly have pages for residents, visitors, businesspeople and so on,” Naito said.

These efforts are in accordance with the policy of new Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe. He said Tuesday he wants to strengthen the metropolitan government’s image overseas by departing drastically from conventional measures.

Speaking to the metropolitan assembly, Masuzoe said that to meet his campaign pledge to make Tokyo the best city in the world, getting the word out overseas is vital.

“We now have a very good opportunity to spread information overseas as we start preparing for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics,” Masuzoe said.

One idea he brought up is inviting foreign-based journalists to come and report on the capital through their eyes.