Outline of the Hokkaido International Exchange and Cooperation Center(HIECC)

The mission of the Hokkaido International Exchange and Cooperation Center(HIECC) is to take various measures to promote internationalization in order to make contribution to overall development of Hokkaido by realizing vibrant local communities through our activity. HIECC is public interest incorporated association with a membership system.

History of the Development of the Hokkaido International Exchange and Cooperation Center (Former Northern Regions Center)

Along with the "Hokkaido Third Comprehensive Plan " in which the concept of "northern regions" was first introduced, the "Northern Regions Research Council" was established in April, 1971 as a volunteer organization, and subsequently the permit for establishing its status as an incorporated body was granted by the Prime Minister of Japan in January, 1972. The council launched the "Northern Regions Information Center" in November 1976 in order to promote both its concept and exchanges. In April, 1978 the council was expansively reorganized into a new organization called "Northern Regions Center" under the competent authority of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the former Hokkaido Development Agency.
The Center, since its foundation, has been Hokkaido's pioneering organization in developing a variety of programs and activities to promote international relations. The scope of its activities go far beyond the building of friendly relations through its active involvement in efforts to re-engineer local communities and to create new forms for lifestyles and cultures, and to contribute further to the advancement of Hokkaido.

Amid the ever increasing interdependence in the international community, consequently drastic changes are taking place in not only the areas of industry and economy but also in virtually all aspects of regional society. Changes such as these have led to a multitude of differences in Hokkaido's international situation compared to the time when the "northern regions" concept was first formulated. Notably, Hokkaido has a strategic location connecting North America, European countries and Asia Pacific regions. In response to the changing needs of the times, the Northern Regions Center widens and strengthens its scope of activities by facilitating interactions with countries other than those in the northern regions, while its long standing commitment to exchanges within the northern regions remains the basis of its activities.

Another pillar of the Center's contributions is international cooperation, which is facilitated by the administration and operations management of the "Hokkaido International Centers" since their foundation in April, 1996. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) chose Hokkaido for the sites of its facilities to promote technical assistance to countries in transition in recognition that the types of local industries in Hokkaido are more compatible with the nature of the courses offered. The management of these facilities is officially entrusted to the NRC by JICA.
The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications of Japan granted the status of "Recognized Local International Exchange Associations" to NRC in March 1998. The NRC is intensifying its efforts to upgrade its functions as an international information center and as a center for international exchanges and cooperative endeavors. There is also an ongoing campaign to develop programs to support activities carried out by private organizations so that the NRC can fulfill its important role as a core organization in promoting international activities in Hokkaido.

On 1st August 2011, Northern Regions Center changed its name to Hokkaido International Exchange and Cooperation Center(HIECC) to meet ever increasing demand to embody comprehensive role as an international information center in Hokkaido.

HIECC is to promote internationalization of Hokkaido through International exchanges and International Cooperation aiming to inspire local community through its activities.