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Hopes for kids' tours of International Media Center thwarted (July 11, 2008)

The International Media Center in Rusutsu Village, where removal work is now in full swing. - 10:40 a.m., July 11

RUSUTSU - Dismantling work at the International Media Center, which served as a base for reporting on the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, is currently underway in Shiribeshi Subprefecture's Rusutsu Village. Locals had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow elementary and junior high school students to make field trips to the center, but the ministry declined such requests even for the period after the end of the Summit. People in the village have expressed regret that children did not have a chance to experience the event. The Summit was also a remote event for local children.

The IMC's main press center is a two-story building with a total floor area of 10,700 m2. The three-billion-yen structure used technologies including solar panels, green walls and a snow cooling system, and housed the Environmental Showcase introducing the latest environmental technologies, a model house using natural energy and the Hokkaido Information Plaza.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs started dismantling equipment after the center's closure at noon on July 10. All equipment is scheduled for removal by the end of the month, and the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau will tear down the building by autumn.

The village's requests to the Hokkaido Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to give students a chance to visit the IMC were aimed at encouraging the youngsters to expand their ambitions. However, the ministry turned down their appeals, saying that providing a disturbance-free working environment for media correspondents during the Summit was a higher priority, and that allowing children to visit the center during the removal of broadcasting equipment would create an accident risk.

Some local residents have said they were disappointed that the Summit seemed to be such a distant event.

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