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British prime minister may visit Eniwa (April 30, 2008)

The British government is considering plans for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to visit Eniwa City during his stay in Hokkaido for July's Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Eniwa promotes itself as a Flower Town, and boasts a park called Ecorin Village that encompasses the themes of the environment and agriculture. Gardens in the park were also designed and supervised by a British landscape gardener. These circumstances have prompted the government of Britain, the home of gardening, to show interest in an approach from the Japan side.

A Japanese government official placed high expectations on the possible visit, saying, "The British government seems to be taking the idea positively and examining the details. I have strong hopes that the plan will come to fruition."

According to the Foreign Ministry, however, the meeting schedule has become tight due to the recent addition of the issue of rising food prices to the main agenda.

Eniwa City has the advantage of being close to New Chitose Airport, but possible schedule adjustments make the situation unclear.

Twenty Hokkaido municipalities are currently bidding to become tour destinations for world leaders and their spouses during the Summit. Five municipalities hope to hold exchange programs with Britain, including Muroran City, the landing port of the British ship Providence in 1796.

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