Geopark activity in Japan

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Watanabe, Mahito
Holding Date 21 September 2008

Japanese activities to promote Geopark started in 2005 when Geological Society of Japan established the promotion committee of Japanese Geoparks. Since then, symposiums on Geopark were held several times for public or academic people to raise awareness of the importance of the geological heritage in the Japanese Society. Eighty sites of the Selected Geosites of Japan was selected and published by the committee composed of researchers, government officials and persons from tourist industry in this May. On this July Geological Survey of Japan published a special issue of their monthly magazine on Geopark and distributed to local governments, concerned government ministers, media and academic community. Through these activities the concept of Geopark are becoming popular in Japanese Society. Now more than ten areas are planning to establish Geopark. Articles on their activities appeared in newspapers time and again. The promoters of Geopark in those areas set up a liaison council in Dec. 2007 to exchange information and know-how to establish Geopark of Japanese style. This council is expected to develop into Japanese Geopark Network in the near future. Economic disparity between major cities and rural area has been becoming serious problem in Japan last two decades. Local municipalities are seeking how to activate the local economy by utilizing their local resources. Some areas had already noticed that geological features of their area could be good sightseeing resources. Such municipalities welcomed the framework of the Geopark. The style of Japanese tourism has been changing recent decade. Until 1980پfs group tour was most popular tourism style and touristsپf major interest was how many sights they can see in their schedule. Now numbers of the tourists who prefer to stay in one area and learn or experience something cultural or historical are increasing. Some people can afford to pay for more expensive tour guided by specialists of history, traditional culture and natural history. We now have good opportunity to provide people in rural area with a chance to activate their area by utilizing geoheritage in their areas. Another important significance to promote Geopark in Japan is its educational aspect for disaster prevention. Japanese islands are located along the active margin of the western Pacific. About 10% of the world earthquakes occur around Japanese islands and there are many volcanoes on Japanese islands. Japan is the country where knowledge of earth science is vital for ordinary people to survive. Geoparks in Japan will be place of great significance for Japanese to understand the earth and to live with the earth safely.