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G8 leaders welcomed with dance performances (July 8, 2008)

Yo Hitoto (rear left) sings against a candlelight Milky Way background - 8:25 p.m., July 7, Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium

Hiragishi Tenjin members demonstrate dynamic Yosakoi dancing before the G8 leaders

A number of welcome events associated with the Japanese Star Festival were held at the G8 Summit's main venue on the evening of July 7, the opening day of the series of meetings. The Group of Eight leaders also wrote their wishes for peace and prosperity on strips of paper called tanzaku.

Elsewhere in the prefecture and throughout the nation, events involving coordinated turning off of lights in households and public facilities were held to reduce CO2 emissions caused by power generation. People joining in with the spirit of the events by candlelight renewed their determination to help curb global warming.

In Sapporo, all the lights of the city's major scenic spots, including the Clock Tower and Nikka Whisky's Sir Walter Raleigh signboard in Susukino, were turned off at 8:00 p.m. as part of the Ministry of the Environment's Tanabata Lightdown event. Approximately 76,000 facilities nationwide turned off lights for two hours, reducing CO2 emissions equivalent to the amount discharged by about 30,000 households per day.

At the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium in Sapporo, 1,300 candles were lit after the lights were turned off, and a candlelit outdoor concert was held. The 500-strong audience was thrilled by the music of Sapporo singer Miho Fukuhara and Yo Hitoto, who sang her hit song Morai Naki. She said, "I hope people will remember this day at least once a year and do what they can to conserve the environment."

The Hokkaido Toyako Summit Preparation Council (led by Ms. Harumi Takahashi, Governor of Hokkaido), a body comprised of public- and private-sector groups in the prefecture, had also called on people and organizations to swap lights for candles for the event, known as Gaia Night. A total of 50,000 people and 330 organizations participated in the event.

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