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Experts blasted for wanting to add 'Tokyo' to name of Ibaraki airport northeast of capital

Ibaraki Airport in the city of Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture, is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi/Masaru Nishimoto)

MITO -- A panel of experts in the eastern Japan prefecture of Ibaraki has been criticized for choosing "Tokyo Ibaraki International Airport" as the final candidate among a list of suggested names for an airport in the city of Omitama, northeast of the capital, to be used to promote the facility to inbound tourists.

The airport, however, will still be domestically referred to as Ibaraki Airport. The expert panel will submit the proposal to the prefectural government soon, and Ibaraki Gov. Kazuhiko Oigawa plans to make a formal decision on the name in early June.

An expert meeting was held privately on May 28, and members chose the name among six candidates -- which included names using "Tokyo" and "metropolitan" -- so that Ibaraki comes across as a prefecture in the greater Tokyo area.

According to the Ibaraki Prefectural Government, the name was chosen as the final candidate in a bid to attract more foreign visitors. It says that by starting the name with "Tokyo," it can stress that the airport is near the capital, and by adding "international," it indicates that there are flights to and from abroad. All nine members of the panel agreed with the proposal.

The expert panel disclosed the six candidate names in March and collected public comments for a month from late April. The panel received feedback from 60 people, but many of them were negative comments, such as, "You'll give a false impression that it (the airport) is very close to Tokyo," and, "I don't know about starting the name with Tokyo."

(Japanese original by Shimpei Torii, Mito Bureau)

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