• Kyodo

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Government officials in Hokkaido are promoting their island’s natural scenery as the ideal backdrop for the location shooting of television dramas and movies in a bid to become “Japan’s Hollywood.”

With many municipalities in Hokkaido calling for the establishment of a film commission, the newly launched effort aims to highlight the beauty of Hokkaido’s unique scenery by raising the profile of the region and boosting its lackluster economy, the officials said earlier this week.

Officials are banking on the popularity of Hokkaido, which has been used for numerous location shoots, to beat out competition from cities such as Yokohama, Kobe and Kitakyushu.

Hokkaido was chosen as the setting for several movies, including “Abashiri Bangaichi,” (“Abashiri Prison”) and “Love Letter,” a film so popular among young South Koreans that it led to an increase in South Korean travelers to the city of Otaru, in western Hokkaido.

The airing on TV of the hit drama series “Kita No Kuni Kara” (“From the Land of the North”) has touched off a number of projects that have benefited Hokkaido’s economy, the officials said.

They said a location database will be created within fiscal 2001, which began Sunday, where images of possible film sites and information on lodging and transport facilities across the prefecture will be offered via a Web site.

The cities of Otaru and Hakodate, along with roughly 70 percent of the municipalities on the island, support the idea of establishing a film commission, the Hokkaido government said. Such a body would be tasked with recruiting local residents to appear as extras and processing applications for the use of facilities and roads.

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