• Kyodo


The Foreign Ministry is inviting prominent overseas bloggers and tweeters to visit areas devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The ministry launched the initiative to revive tourism in Tohoku’s disaster zone and wants the foreign guests to write about the progress that has been made in rebuilding its devastated communities so the world will know the area is still an appealing holiday destination.

At the ministry’s invitation, Spanish blogger Roger Ortuno Flamerich came to Japan in December, followed by Louisa Liu Chu, 45, a food blogger from Chicago, and Khaled Hamza, 48, editor-in-chief of the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt, who arrived here on Jan. 31.

Hamza’s Islamist group played a pivotal role in bringing down the entrenched autocratic government of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Hamza made a day trip to Ishinomaki in Miyagi, the prefecture closest to the epicenter of the March 2011 megaquake, to inspect reconstruction sites. Chu spent three days visiting fish markets and sake brewers in Kesennuma and Sendai, two other Miyagi cities.

Deciding to mobilize the immense communicative power of social networking sites, the Foreign Ministry earmarked some ¥21.5 million for the project for the current fiscal year through March.

This month, two influential tweeters — a Chilean university professor and a Chinese children’s story writer — will visit.

The ministry aims to invite more than 10 such communicators by the end of March.

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