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Japan's Selects Hokkaido for 2008 Summit

April 23, 2007

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced on April 23, 2007, that the 2008 G8 Summit will be held at Lake Toya in Hokkaido. The dates have not yet been announced.

Abe also said, "I believe the environment will be a major theme of the summit."

The site was selected because of its natural beauty and because of its smal size, which would facilitate security, although the governor of Hokkaido was reportedly reluctant to hold the summit in her prefecture because of the economic strain.

"It's going to be a tough job,'' Governor Harumi Takahashi said.

However, Takahashi also said she hoped that the event would help revolve the longstanding territorial dispute with Russia over sovereignty of the Northern Territories.

Lake Toya is a popular hot-spring resort on Hokkaido, a remote island in Northern Japan. The leaders will meet at the Windsor Hotel Toya, a mountain-top hotel that overlooks the lake. In 2000 Mount Usu erupted nearby, causing thousands of people to evacuate although no one was hurt.

"Leaders of many nations will gather. So we considered the impact that strict security measures might have on local residents,' Abe said.

The Hokkaido police force has already set up a preparatory office for the summit with 35 members the same day.

Yokohama and Kyoto also campaigned to host the event. The previous Japan-hosted summit was in Okinawa in 2000.

Sources: Independent Online, Agence France Presse, Reuters, Xinhua, Mainichi, Kyodo News

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