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Japan eyes announcing G8 summit venue next week

(Kyodo) _ Japan is expected to announce next week where it will host the 2008 Group of Eight summit, a decision to be made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before he leaves April 26 for a trip to the United States and the Middle East, government sources said Thursday.
“Regarding the summit, I will make the pick,” Abe told reporters in the evening. The government and ruling coalition plan to agree at a liaison meeting next Monday to leave the decision up to the premier, the sources said.
“I must consider comprehensively various things, such as whether it is a location that suits the message to be delivered at the summit and befitting to spread the image of a beautiful Japan to the world,” Abe said.
The premier added that security will also be an important factor. The Lake Toya hot-spring resort area in the northernmost Hokkaido Prefecture is considered the leading candidate within the government. The other candidates are the cities of Yokohama and Niigata, which hope to jointly host the summit as port cities, a group comprising Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, which is calling for a “Kansai Summit,” and Okayama and Kagawa prefectures, touting a “Setouchi Summit.” Japan has hosted four summits of the major powers in the past, three times in Tokyo and most recently in Okinawa Prefecture in 2000. The annual summit of the G-8 nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States – will be hosted by Germany this year in June at Heiligendamm.