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The 8th International Fair Trade Towns Conference was held in Asia's first fair trade town, Kumamoto

2014.02.11 Momoko Miyahara

"Fair trade towns" are popping up all around the world. The first fair trade town was founded in the UK in 2000, but now there are over 1,400 fair trade towns in 24 countries. Fair trade towns refer to local communities that continue to promote the fair trade movement and products at government offices, companies, shops, and schools. This status is awarded by the certification body in each country. The Fair Trade Town Japan was established in 2011 to fulfill this role and Kumamoto became the first city in Japan to join the ranks.

Kumamoto also hosted the "8th International Fair Trade Towns Conference" from March 28th to the 30th. This is the first time that this conference was held in a non-European city. People from all corners of the world came together to discuss how fair trade towns are doing and where they should be heading. Alongside the conference, fairs allowing producers from Asia and Africa to introduce their products, fashion shows, student councils, playing card competitions, and many other events were held. On 25th and 26th of March, the Fair Trade International Symposium was also held in Tokyo, providing a platform for representatives from different countries to talk about fair trade and fair trade towns. General public were also able to take part in these conferences.

In Japan, citizens in Nagoya, Sapporo, Zushi, Utsunomiya, Ichinomiya, etc. are working hard to become fair trade towns. There are also hopes that this conference held in Japan will spur this movement in other Asian countries. London, the world's largest fair trade town provided fair trade coffee, tea, and other products at all venues of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Tokyo will be hosting the Games in 2020, and I hope that Tokyo will have become a fair trade town by then, and be able to organize an ethical Olympic Games.

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Kumamoto, Japan (Japan

Momoko Miyahara

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