Press Conference, 12 March 2009

  1. Report on the TICAD IV Follow-Up Symposium
  2. Introduction of the "カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors"

I. Report on the TICAD IV Follow-Up Symposium

Deputy Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for coming to the press conference.

Today, as you know, we are expecting a special Part Two program. I will introduce three new Japanese ambassadors to you all. They are called "カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors." カワイイ (KAWAII) means, in English, lovely or cute.

Let me start, first, with the regular program. I have one announcement.

Yesterday, the 11th, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the TICAD IV, Tokyo International Conference on African Development IV, Follow-Up Symposium entitled "Japan's Efforts to Promote Peace and Security in Africa: The Case of Sudan and Beyond" at the United Nations University. To name some of the guest speakers, from the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Luka Biong, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Regional Cooperation; those two ministers participated in the Symposium.

The Symposium began with Foreign Minister Nakasone's policy speech. The speech is now up on the Foreign Ministry website, entitled "Creating Peace: Japan-Africa Partnership." In his speech, Foreign Minister Nakasone emphasized four points. One, Japan's active involvement in ending conflicts and achieving peace by citing the cases of Sudan and Somalia. Two, Japan's active involvement in implementing peace agreements. Three, the importance of enhancing Africa's capacity for peace building. And, four, the necessity of strengthening Japan's personnel contribution to peace-building efforts in Africa.

Prior to the Symposium, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Seiko Hashimoto met with Dr. Luka Biong, Minister of Presidential Affairs of the Government of Southern Sudan. Minister Biong expressed his appreciation toward Japan's leading role in the DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) activities.

And, one more final announcement is also regarding the TICAD's African development efforts by Japan. Next weekend, from Saturday, the 21st through Sunday, the 22nd, Japan will co-host the TICAD Ministerial Follow-Up Meeting in Gaborone, which is the capital of Botswana. We are expecting to send high level figures to this meeting. The main mission of the TICAD Ministerial Follow-Up Meeting is to take stock of what Japan and African countries have done so far since the end of the last round of the TICAD conference.

That's all from me.

Related Information (Policy Speech by Foreign Minister Nakasone)

II. Introduction of the "カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors"

Now, let us go on to the second program. I would like to ask the ambassadors to come in.

Hello everybody, again, Part Two is with our special guests, the New Trend Communicators of Japanese Pop Culture in the field of Fashion. We call them カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors.

Let me start with a brief sketch of what the Japanese Foreign Ministry is expecting through this program. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently appointed the three カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors. The main mission of the three ambassadors is to transmit the new trends of Japanese pop culture in the field of fashion to the rest of the world and to promote understanding of Japan by their attending cultural projects carried out by the Japanese Embassies and the Japan Foundation.

Pop culture, including fashion, is an integral part of today's Japanese culture. It enjoys worldwide popularity and we witness that such people are ever-increasing. Pop culture is expected to help the people of the world have more chances to know about contemporary Japan, hand-in-hand with other traditional and contemporary cultures.

The first mission of the カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors will be a lecture on Japanese fashion at the Japan Festa in Bangkok which will be held on the 28th of March. They will also go to Paris for the Japan Expo on the 2nd through 5th of July.

I would like to introduce the Ambassadors. Ms. Misako Aoki; charismatic leader who features "Lolita" fashions. Next, Ms. Yuu Kimura; leader of "Harajuku" style fashion. And last, Ms. Shizuka Fujioka; advisor of CONOMI, a well-known shop that sells school uniform-type clothes. And also, today, two senior officials who are organizing the programs; Mr. Tsutomu Nakagawa, Director of the Culture Exchange Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and next, Mr. Takamasa Sakurai, Advisor to the Director of the Culture Exchange Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thank you very much for your presence today.

Ms. Misako Aoki, カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassador: Hello, my name is Misako Aoki. I am in charge of the Gothic Lolita Section. I would like to engage in activities so that the other foreign countries will come to like Japan.

Ms. Yuu Kimura, カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassador: Hello, my name is Yuu Kimura. I have been dressed like this for so long and I will be in charge of the Harajuku-style fashion. I do not know, but I consider that maybe I was recognized by the officials of the country and I feel very honored.

Ms. Shizuka Fujioka, カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassador: Hello, my name is Shizuka Fujioka. I will be in charge of the school uniform style. As a representative of the country, I would like to engage in activities sincerely.

Mr. Takamasa Sakurai, Advisor to the Director of the Culture Exchange Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Hello, my name is Sakurai and I am the advisor to the Foreign Ministry. I am especially in charge of the section of pop culture. I, of course, consider that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a whole, is in charge of the traditional culture, but I am especially in charge of pop culture. I am also an expert on anime.

Last year, for one year, I had toured various foreign countries in the field of anime culture. I have also toured countries such as Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Laos, and I have also gone to countries in Europe. In Europe, I have learned that there are many events related to Japan focusing on anime. Examples are the event held in Paris which 100,000 people attended, and also the event held in Spain in which 70,000 people attended. It is called "Costume Play," but in those events, I have seen many young people dressed in various characters and especially, they are dressed similar to these three ladies who are present here.

First of all, it started from copying the fashion worn in animes; However, I have learned that the ladies abroad are dealing with those fashions very preciously. Having conversations with those young people in such events, I have come to learn that they wanted to meet such fashion leaders and, having consultations with the officials in the Foreign Ministry, I believe that these カワイイ (KAWAII) Ambassadors were recognized. I look forward to these three young ladies enjoying exchanging opinions and the appeal of Japan's culture with young people abroad. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kawamura: Thank you very much, everybody.

Related Information (Press Release)

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