Japanese mayor promotes travel safety on YouTube (video)

Is it safe to visit Japan?

Many travelers are wary of visiting the country after March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami raised concerns about a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

“The water and food in this area are safe. However, the city has suffered great damage from harmful rumors,” noted Ichiro Kanke, major of Wakamatsu City, in a YouTube video posted on Wednesday.

Mayor Kanke turned to YouTube to spread the message that his city is safe and poses no radiation threat.

Falling tourism

In halting English, Mayor Kanke urges YouTube viewers to visit Wakamatsu City, which he calls a “safe area.” As of Monday evening, the video had 211 views.

Also known as Aizuwakamatsu, Wakamatsu City is located in the same prefecture as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. However, as Mayor Kanke notes in the video, Wakamatsu City sits 100 km (62 miles) from the plant.

The mayor faces an uphill battle in reviving tourism to the region, since the name Fukushima has become synonymous with nuclear power.

Tourist visits to Fukushima prefecture have fallen in half compared to last year, officials told the Associated Press earlier this month.

Ichiro Kanke, mayor of Wakamatsu City holding radiation reading

Ichiro Kanke, mayor of Wakamatsu City, takes a radiation reading at Mt. Iimori in a YouTube video.

Radiation reading

In the YouTube clip, Mayor Kanke takes a live radiation reading at Mt. Iimori, a popular tourist attraction.

The camera zooms in on the device, which reads 0.08 microsieverts per hour. The mayor filmed a similar video at the historic Tsuruga-jo Castle and obtained a 0.18 reading.

(In April, the Japanese government set the radiation threshold for closing schools at 3.8 microsieverts per hour– 47.5 times higher than Mayor Kanke’s reading at Mt. Iimori).

“According to a radiation specialist, this measurement value has no effect on the human body,” Mayor Kanke says on the Mt. Iimori video. He ends the clip, which lasts 1 minute and 43 seconds, with an invitation to tourists.

“As you can see, Aizu-Wakamatsy City is a safe area. Please come here for sightseeing. We hope to see you then.”

Ichiro Kanke, mayor of Wakamatsu City invites tarvelers to visit

Mayor Ichiro Kanke appeared in a YouTube video encouraging travelers to visit Wakamatsu City.

For more info

Visit the Aizuwakamatsu City’s English-language website for tourist information and the mayor’s latest messages. The city’s YouTube Channel features additional videos with Mayor Kanke.

Your thoughts

What do you think of Mayor Kanke’s video message? Would you visit Wakamatsu City right now? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.


Thanks to Downtown Traveler reader Mark for pointing us to this video, which has not appeared in English-language news reports.

About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded DowntownTraveler.com after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.