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Japan's First Lady looks to promote 'Japanese values' at summit

Akie Abe (Mainichi)

Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said in a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun that she is looking to present "Japanese values" to the world as Japan is hosting a G-7 summit meeting of the group of leading industrial nations at the Ise-Shima region in Mie Prefecture on May 26 and 27. Below is the outline of her comments.


    I participated in the ama (female free divers) summit held in Mie Prefecture in 2014 and 2015. I was impressed by the knowledge of ama divers for sustainable fishing by setting areas where they can catch seafood and self-regulating the way they fish through the ages. I am consulting with the prefectural government and other parties to have the spouses of G-7 leaders meet local ama divers.

    The Ise-jingu shrine is one of the biggest attractions about Mie, and I think it creates an atmosphere in the area different from other places. My husband has said that the Ise-Shima region is "home to the hearts of all Japanese people."

    I think there are many opportunities during summits to feel local hospitality. I especially have fond memories of my visit to Papua New Guinea in 2014 when I accompanied my husband where we visited a war memorial at Wewak. People in the area took a day off to welcome us with dances and songs while waving handmade banners on the streets. I hope those who are coming to join the Ise-Shima Summit will feel the hospitality from the locals in Mie Prefecture.

    The Japanese have been said to be not good at promoting ourselves, and I don't think many foreigners know about the Ise-Shima region. By letting people know about Japan and the area, they will have a better understanding about Japanese culture and spirituality, which will ultimately bring more visitors to the region. This will also lead to economic vitalization at the local level.

    As the world is turning its spotlight on Japan ahead of the summit and the Summer Olympics in 2020, I believe Japan will be able to have a big impact on the world by promoting Japanese values.

    I'll be acting as the wife of the prime minister from the host country at the upcoming summit. The spouses of other G-7 leaders are expected to come to Japan. I believe that there are things that only us partners of the leaders can do, and I want to show the world the meaning of spouses accompanying the leaders to the event.

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