About 70 mayors from across Japan plan to launch an association to promote their regional specialties in a bid to cash in on the ¥3 trillion (S$34 billion) economic boost expected to be generated by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics.
The mayors hope this partnership will help revitalise regions that are far from where the sporting extravaganza is taking place, and publicize the attractions of these areas to people in Japan and abroad.
Details of the planned group will be explained at a meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party's unification headquarters for vitalizing local economy on Thursday.
Tentatively called the "association of mayors promoting regional vitalization through the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics," the group is expected to include local leaders from Hokkaido to Kagoshima Prefecture.
Isato Kunisada, the mayor of Sanjo, Niigata Prefecture, has been spearheading the drive to form the organisation, which will be launched in June.
The group has been a magnet especially for leaders from municipalities in regions that the economic impact of the Games might struggle to reach, such as Osaka and Hyogo in the Kansai region and Nagano and Shizuoka in the Chubu region.
The only representatives from the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo appear to be the mayors of Saitama city and the town of Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture.
From next fiscal year, the mayors will co-operate to sell their distinctive local products for use at the Tokyo Games.
For example, the city of Tsubame in Niigata Prefecture hopes to have the Western kitchenware for which it is famous stocked in the Athletes Village, while Saitama city aims to have traditional crafts such as its Iwatsuki dolls presented as an additional prize to the medalists.
The association will lobby relevant organisations to achieve these goals.
Other well-known items likely to be included in the sales campaign include kutaniyaki pottery from Kanazawa, tango chirimen textiles from Kyotango, Kyoto Prefecture, and higo zogan metal inlaying from Kumamoto.
The association members also hope to attract foreign tourists to their areas while they are in Japan to watch the Olympics.
Special excursions and tours will be prepared, including hot spring tours to the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture and trips to summer resorts including Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture.Speech