FOUR foreign exchange students from Japan have been welcomed to North Wales by the Chair of Flintshire County Council.

Councillor Mario Bateman was among the 40 people to welcome Kaho Tsuda, Keito Otani, Kosuke Murakami, Mizuki Kamo, and interpreter Mr Koki Kinouchi at a recent formal Civic Reception.

They come as part of a programme which offers a wide range of educational and cultural activities for the Japanese guests - including visits to London, Liverpool, Oxford, Chester, Chirk Castle, Colwyn Bay, Conwy Castle, Llandudno and Mold.

Their arrival in Flintshire means that several North Walian students will soon be heading in the opposite direction.

Isabel Taylor, Hannah Maddocks, Hannah Bywood, Hamish Peffers, Alexandra Goan and Ruby Griffiths will visit Miyagi Prefecture – where the exchange has taken place since 1991 – after the Wales part of the programme.

Councillor Bateman said: "I’m delighted to welcome our Japanese visitors and hope they have an enjoyable and valuable experience.

“This exchange offers a wonderful opportunity for both countries to learn about a different way of life and culture.

“Staying with families is the best way of learning by immersing in the language and culture in a caring environment with fellow students for support."

Applications for a place on next year’s exchange scheme are now open, and can be done by emailing or by attending a presentation evening at County Hall in Mold on October 23, 2019.

To be eligible to apply for a place on the foreign exchange programme, students must be 16-18 years old on September 1, 2019, as well as in full time education in Flintshire or in full time education elsewhere while residing in Flintshire.

The exchange is funded by Flintshire Optec Japanese Youth Exchange Trust as well as by grants and donations, including donations from Toyota UK based at Deeside.