Heisei in Perspective: Gold Bullion Spurred Tourism in Small Japanese Town

Politics Society

Awaji, Hyogo Pref., Feb. 11 (Jiji Press)--Gold bullion on proud display in a small town stole the show after the Japanese government handed out 100 million yen each to all municipalities across the nation in a controversial 1988-1989 initiative to spur regional revitalization.

In a bid to promote tourism, the town of Tsuna, now part of the city of Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture, used the no-strings grant to rent about 63 kilograms of gold bullion, by putting up the money as collateral. The weight of the gold bullion it could rent changed in line with market prices.

In the early phase of the project, launched in March 1989 during the bubble economy period, more than 300,000 people annually visited the facility exhibiting the gold bullion, attracted by a rare opportunity to touch such treasure. Through 2010, the number of visitors totaled about 3.77 million.

Around the 2002 World Cup soccer finals in Japan and South Korea, England captain David Beckham visited the gold bullion. The western Japan town hosted a training camp for the England squad.

A major tourist draw, the gold bullion clearly put Tsuna on the map.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press