Kusano: Please give us an overview of the Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper Group.
Hayashi: The Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper Group consists of the Media Group and the Tourism Group. The former is made up of Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper, a cable TV company (OCTV), a FM broadcasting company (JAGA) and an advertising agency (CMC) and so forth, and the latter is composed of hotels, restaurants, a garden. Communication among local residents revitalizes local communities. In this regard, Kachimai has played the role of circulating information in the Tokachi region. Tourism is expected the next to agriculture to serve Tokachi, and regional contribution through the media and tourism has been Kachimai’s commitment since its foundation.
In the past several years, the Kachimai Group have focused on using the Internet, and the number of subscribers to the online edition of our newspapers has steadily increased. Since the Internet has no boundaries, information on Tokachi and tourism in the region have been spread out to all over the world via our website. As the Kachimai Group advances its media mix strategies to a higher level, I believe we can contribute to regional development through new approaches.
Kusano: The Kachimai Group's missions include supporting for food production in Tokachi, is that correct?
Hayashi: Indeed. It goes without saying that Tokachi is Japan's breadbasket. Tokachi products, popular for not only their taste but also their safety and trustworthiness, are also highly regarded in Southeast Asia, and the amount of yams and other products exported to Southeast Asia has been increasing.
The Kachimai Group has emphasized the importance of delivering fresh farm products as well as that of their processing and branding. That is why we worked to invite to Obihiro the international natural cheese conference titled Le Comite Plenier des Fromages in 2005. Today, Tokachi is home to Japan’s leading natural-cheese manufacturers and farmstead cheese producers, and has developed into Japan’s top-ranking natural-cheese producing region. Today, we are under way to establish the Tokachi Wagyu brand.
Kusano: The Group has also been engaged in the globalization of the region.
Hayashi: When Obihiro hosted an IT-related conference of the Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC) in 2014, Kachimai served as the liasion with entrepreneurs working actively in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. I had great oppotunity in the significant role we played in promoting Tokachi to those entrepreneurs and helping them establish personal contacts with local government officials and representatives of the business community. We also worked with local friendship organizations to hold an exchange event joined Nepali Ambassador at Tokyo.
Being a part of the communication industry, Kachimai has increasingly played the role of connecting people in Japan and the world with people in the Tokachi region and Obihiro as evidenced by its serving as the secretariat for the International Forum on Food and Environment, which was held annually from 2011 to 2013. These activities will help to increase the number of inbound tourists and promote tourism.
Kusano: Please tell us the theme of the Kachimai Group for 2015.
Hayashi: Our theme is to improve communication skills. We have had the same theme in the past, but we believe this is still important today. Widespread use of smartphones means that people have the Internet at their fingertips at all the time. This has dramatically increased communication via e-mail and social networking services, but I think people’s communication skills have deteriorated as they have fewer opportunities for face-to-face conversations. We also need practical abilities to communicate in English as the number of overseas business travelers has been increasing.
The ongoing globalization of information has affected the media, for which Japanese has been the main means of communication. We hope to be at the cutting edge of such globalization as a professional communicator committed to making regional contributions through the media and tourism.
Photographing cooperation: Hokkaido Hotel
Interviewer: Mayu Kusano
(Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper, CMC)
Originally hailing from Obihiro City, Mayu Kusano graduated from Sapporo University and joined Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper in 2014.
She values daily encounters with people and aspires to become a trusted sales representative. Her younger sister is a Japanese ballad singer, Maya Sakura.