Monday 16 January 2012

Japanese Consul to Cairns in diplomatic mode

Far North still a favourite with Japanese

Nick Dalton
Monday, January 16, 2012
© The Cairns Post

Strong ties: Yoshiyuki Isoda, the new Japanese consul to Cairns says Japanese tourists rate the Far North as a great destination. Picture: TOM LEE

The Japanese highly regarded the Far North as a destination to visit and to study, says the new Japanese consul to Cairns.

Yoshiyuki Isoda said the Japanese found Cairns "attractive and interesting". Despite a fall in Japanese tourist numbers because of the global financial crisis and the reduction in direct flights they still ranked No 1, including in Queensland.  "Every year about 100,000 visit here. It is an attractive and an interesting place to them," he said.

Mr Isoda was posted with his wife Hisae (Peggy) to Cairns from the Davo City consular office in the Philippines to replace Tsuguyoshi Hada, who has returned to Japan to continue work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said young Japanese were keen to study in Cairns because of the climate, the relatively small size of the city and the number of about 3000 Japanese living here."They feel quite comfortable here and can meet and talk," Mr Isoda said.

It is Mr Isoda’s first visit to Australia but three things about the city quickly sprung to mind when he was told of the transfer. "I knew where Cairns was because of the Cairns Group, the Great Barrier Reef and Thursday Island."

The Cairns Group was named after the city where an interest group of 19 agricultural exporting countries first met in 1986. "Everyone knows that Cairns is the (gateway to the) Great Barrier Reef and Thursday Island is known for Japanese pearl diving." Mr Isoda said the Great Barrier Reef was a strong name associated with Cairns and what attracted so many Japanese visitors.

He said his role was predominantly consular work, including helping residents and tourists with travel documents, driver’s licences and birth certificates and assisting Australian and other nationalities to travel to Japan. Mr Isoda said also they helped when their citizens were involved in emergencies.

He said he was grateful for the medical attention two Japanese tourists were receiving at Cairns Base Hospital after being injured in a bus crash in the city two weeks ago. "They are OK. One will go home soon while the other will stay for a bit longer," Mr Isoda said. "The doctors and nurses have been so kind to them," he said.

Mr Isoda said the consulate would be hosting a memorial and appreciation ceremony in March to mark the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 last year. He said Japan was grateful for the support given by the Cairns and Australian community.  "We will host a special ceremony, a kind of reception to show our appreciation to them and inform everyone how the recovery is going," he said.
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