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Tuesday, July 8, 2008
G8 SUMMIT 2008
Souvenir press kits aim to drive environmentalism theme home
By JUN HONGO
TOYAKO, Hokkaido — A resolution against global warming may not be issued at the Group of Eight summit, but journalists covering the Toyako gathering will at least head home with eco-friendly wristwatches and rechargeable batteries.
The media press kits, provided by the Japanese government as souvenirs, are being handed out to 3,000 media representatives covering the G8 summit in Hokkaido.
Foreign Ministry official Ryosuke Kuwana told The Japan Times that the gifts were chosen in line with the meeting's focus on environmental issues. The budget, excluding gifts provided from contributing companies, was approximately ¥15 million, he said.
Included in the package is a Citizen Watch Co. Eco-Drive wristwatch, which can be powered by either solar energy or artificial lighting.
Sanyo Electric Co. Eneloop batteries, also in the package, can be charged up to 1,000 times in wall sockets, an instruction in the gift explains.
Kuwana did not comment on the infamous souvenirs handed out at the G8 summit in Okinawa eight years ago that were criticized for their lavishness, including digital IC recorders and fancy dolls.
The official explained that financial circumstances have changed, while adding that it has been a tradition that hosts of summits hand out press kits and souvenirs.
The government kept things in moderation this year — in addition to watches and batteries, the press corps were provided pens and erasers made of environmentally friendly materials, a reversible "furoshiki" wrapping cloth, USB-powered flashlights and writing pads made of recycled paper.
Still, some of the press contingent at the media center seemed confused about the presents.
Michael Chebud, an Ethiopian journalist, seemed puzzled by the flashlight he got, asking what he was supposed to do with the gadget.
He instead urged the organizers to arrange better working conditions, indicating his disappointment that he traveled 16 hours from his country to find he is only allowed to cover news conferences through relay broadcasts at the press center.
"I am very surprised with this treatment," he said.