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From European Capitals of Culture to Culture Cities of East Asia
The Culture City of East Asia program began holding events in Yokohama in February 2014. The program, implemented in Japan, China, and South Korea, selects a city in each country that seeks to grow through arts and culture. Various arts and cultural events spanning modern arts and culture, traditional culture, and cultural diversity in everyday life are held in the selected cities. The Culture City of East Asia program borrows its concept from the European Capital of Culture program. In the European program, two cities in European Union member countries collaborate to hold various arts and cultural events in the cities over the course of a year. This article presents an overview of four examples of European Capitals of Culture─Rotterdam (2001), Lille (2004), Linz (2009), and Essen (2010)─and then discusses the cases of the most recent Capitals, Marseille(2013) in France and Kosice(2013)in Slovakia. Japan, China, and Korea, which launched the Culture City of East Asia program in 2014, are currently facing some of the most difficult diplomatic situations in the history of the three countries. But these politically difficult circumstances are precisely why I consider cultural exchanges to be all the more vital. A goal of the Culture City of East Asia program is to promote mutual understanding and unity in the East Asian region. This goal, if achieved, will significantly contribute to building peaceful relationships among the three East Asian countries. Realizing such relationships would provide great hope for the future for Japan, China, and Korea, and may well be considered an achievement that parallels Nobel Peace Prize-winning efforts.