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Firm set up in Kumamoto to supply food to cruise ships

Jiji Press KUMAMOTO (Jiji Press) — A trading company has been established in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture, to supply local foods to large foreign cruise ships making port calls in the city, at a time when Japan’s government aims to boost the number of people visiting the country by sea, Jiji Press learned Wednesday.

The firm, Kumamoto Marine Inc., regards cruise ships with more than 5,000 passengers and crew members as a potential market, informed sources said.

Kumamoto Marine, with a capital of ¥4 million, was set up in Yatsushiro on Sept. 13 by four local businesses, including a liquor seller, a transport firm and a construction company, the sources said.

The government has set a target of increasing the annual number of foreigners visiting Japan by cruise ship to 5 million in 2020.

In July, the government designated six ports, including Yatsushiro Port, as hubs for visits by foreign cruise ships, as part of measures to increase tourists from abroad.

While an increasing number of foreigners are visiting Japan by cruise ship, some local communities that host ports have failed to gain economic benefits because they lack large commercial facilities for such foreign visitors to spend money at.

Kumamoto Marine targets such ships, planning to sell a wide variety of farm, livestock and fishery products, and beverages produced by local businesses, the sources said.

In January, the Kumamoto prefectural government announced a partnership with Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the world’s second-largest cruise ship operator.

Royal Caribbean has told the Kumamoto side that it wants to procure a large quantity of local foods and asked for the establishment of a trading company to serve as coordinator for regional food suppliers, according to the sources.

Kumamoto Marine plans shortly to sign a formal partnership deal with Royal Caribbean, aiming to start operations by year-end, the sources said.

“We’re resolved to make Kumamoto Marine a highly public firm that contributes to the local economy,” its head, Koji Miyazaki, said.

Under the hub port designation system, the Japanese and Kumamoto governments will construct a quay for cruise ships at Yatsushiro Port.

Royal Caribbean will build a passenger terminal and, in return, obtain priority right to use the quay.

Currently, some 70 cruise ships visit Yatsushiro Port annually. The Kumamoto government hopes to raise the number to 200 in 2020.Speech

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