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NIPPONIA No.31 December 15, 2004

cover interview
Popular Actress Is First Goodwill Ambassador for Visit Japan Campaign
Written by Tsuchiya Komei, Photo by Enomoto Toshio, Other photo credit: The Mainichi Newspapers Co.

Kimura Yoshino says, "I've been to the Republic of Korea three times, and always find that Koreans and Japanese have a lot in common."
(Above right): Paying a courtesy visit to Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro—Kimura Yoshino with famous actress Choi Ji Woo, the Goodwill Ambassador for a campaign promoting tourism to the Republic of Korea.

The Japanese government has organized the Visit Japan Campaign to promote Japan as a tourist destination for foreign travelers, and the first Goodwill Ambassador for the campaign is Kimura Yoshino (28), a popular actress who performs in TV dramas, movies, commercials, and on the stage. As Goodwill Ambassador, Kimura has a prestigious job introducing Japan as a must-see place for people throughout the world.
"By coincidence, my grandfather was once on the board of the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), so his job, too, was to encourage people to visit Japan. And my father lectures at a university on the principles of tourism. My being related to them had nothing to do with being chosen Goodwill Ambassador, but I like to think it shows the hand of fate. My father seems to think so too, and he's really happy I was chosen."
Choi Ji Woo, the heroine of the super-popular TV drama Winter Sonata, was chosen Goodwill Ambassador for a similar campaign promoting tourism to the Republic of Korea, and on July 22, 2004 the two actresses participated in a ceremony celebrating the expansion of tourism between the two countries. This was their first job as ambassadors. Kimura says, "It's an important position and I have to work hard at it. I don't want to just bask in the glory of the name."
"My acting career takes me to many parts of rural Japan, and each time I am reminded that Japan has many great places to visit. In the countryside the air is fresh, the sea is lovely and clear, and the people are friendly. I want to tell the world about the beautiful places and wonderful attractions Japan has to offer."
Kimura was born in London and lived there until she was three, and she spent another three years abroad as a junior high student in New York. "For the traveler from abroad, touring the Japanese countryside can offer a number of challenges. There are few tourist signs in languages other than Japanese, and most lodgings are not constructed with the foreign visitor in mind."
Her work often takes her abroad, and she also enjoys traveling outside the country once or twice a year during her holiday time. "When I'm outside the country, I sometimes get the impression that people there still don't have an accurate understanding of Japan or Japanese people. Actually, I think it's important for people all over the world to gain a better appreciation of other cultures and to meet each other half way. One day I'd like to have a job promoting the showing of Japanese movies overseas, to give people another opportunity to learn more about Japan."

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