• Kyodo

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Local government representatives from 11 Asian countries joined those from Kyushu and Okinawa at a meeting here Friday to discuss human-resource development and the environment in the 21st century.

In his opening speech at the three-day gathering in the spa resort city of Beppu, Oita Gov. Morihiko Hiramatsu said, “I hope this conference will be a good beginning for the creation of a new Asian-Kyushu cultural area.”

The keynote speech was delivered by Kazuichi Sakamoto, president of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, which opened in Beppu this year.

The university, jointly set up by Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University and the Oita Prefectural Government, draws students from more than 50 countries, mainly those in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the speech, Sakamoto emphasized the importance of human-resource development at universities and municipalities.

“It is necessary to show advanced methods for solving issues concerning the environment, population and natural resources in order to create an Asia-Pacific civilization in the 21st century,” he said.

The annual summit — the first was held in 1994 — aims to promote cooperation and exchange knowhow for local region-building between Asia and Kyushu’s seven prefectures plus Okinawa.

Delegates from China, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia attended the meeting.

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