World

Japan showcases virtual APEC summit pond

Japan has taken a page out of Canada's book, and built its own version of a small fake lake for its Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands next to a fake fish pond in the middle of the meeting room at APEC meetings in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press) )
Japan has taken a page out of Canada's book, and built its own version of a small fake lake for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.

Japan's "lake" is digital, with virtual fish swimming about and a fountain that drips fake water to create fake ripples.

But Japan has gone a step further than Canada by putting the feature in the middle of the plenary session room where the 21 leaders will discuss trade issues in the calming environment of a bamboo tree forest.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the fish pond on Saturday, pausing good-naturedly at its rocky shore to pose for the cameras.

"Stephen, don't fall in," U.S. President Barack Obama joked to Harper. "It's all video. It's fascinating."

Canada's fake lake was only for the media, although it too had a forest element — a giant TV screen showing scenes of Muskoka cottage country north of Toronto where the G8 summit was held in June.

The fake lake at the following G20 summit in Toronto had real water, and was surrounded by racks of canoes. Reporters, however, couldn't do any actual paddling because the lake was too shallow.

The display that included the G20's fake lake cost $2 million, and opposition politicians were quick to berate the government for what they said was the wasteful spending of hard earned tax dollars.

Government officials defended the money as well spent, saying it showed off Canada's true beauty to foreign journalists.

The media centre in Yokohama is no less glamorous than were the facilities at Toronto's G20 summit. It has electric cars on display and personal scooters to try out. It also has a huge aquarium containing a large creature and several smaller ones, along with an underwater camera that reporters can operate by remote control.

A giant television screen showing waves also stretches across the back of the media centre.

Korea, however, probably takes first prize when it comes to TV screens.

On display at this week's G20 summit in Seoul was a television screen as big as a bus, broadcasting pastoral scenes of the Korean countryside.