Japan and the United Nations

Visit to the United States by Mrs. Akie Abe, the Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan

(September 22 - 26, 2014)

October 9, 2014
Japanese

From September 22 to September 26, 2014, Mrs. Akie Abe, the spouse of Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Shinzo Abe, accompanied her husband on a trip to the United States, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly and other events and she undertook a variety of exchange activities.

1. September 22

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Visit to Safe Horizon's Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center

From 2:15 to 3:00 p.m., Mrs. Abe visited Safe Horizon in New York. Safe Horizon, whose activities are based in New York, is a support group for victims of crime and abuse. At Safe Horizon's Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center, which Mrs. Abe visited, the group is engaged in initiatives to take care children who have suffered from abuse and families that have been affected. The center is noteworthy for carrying out household studies and counselling children and families in teams consisting of the relevant law enforcement and child administration representatives and various specialists. This approach is aimed at preventing abused children's emotional trauma from being exacerbated as a result of them being subjected to repeated questioning from multiple agencies regarding their abuse.
Mrs. Abe visited a children's counselling room, children's clothing room, interview room for abuse suspects, law enforcement representatives' office and other facilities, and exchanged views with specialists on specific initiatives at the Center and approaches to child advocacy in Japan and the U.S.

2. September 23

  • Giving a speech at CSIS
  • Giving an address at a Japanese cuisine dinner

(1) Attendance at a seminar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

For two hours from 11:00 a.m., Mrs. Abe participated in a CSIC womenomics seminar in Washington D.C., where she gave a keynote speech. Those attending the seminar included representatives from Japanese and American companies, government officials, and NGOs involved in international cooperation. Discussions took place on women's participation in society in Japan women and challenges that Japan and the U.S. have in common concerning economic empowerment.
In her keynote speech Mrs. Abe presented an overview of the 'World Assembly for Women in Tokyo (WAW! Tokyo 2014)' which she had also participated in, and discussed the promotion of women's active participation in society in Japan and international cooperation for the empowerment of women. Her speech received a very favorable response.

(Reference) 'World Assembly for Women in Tokyo (WAW! Tokyo 2014)'
Held in Tokyo from September 12 to 14, WAW! Tokyo 2014 was attended by around 100 top leaders active in the field of gender issues from Japan and countries around the world, including Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The event featured discussions on promoting women's engagement in economic and global challenges and empowerment. 12 proposals known as 'WAW! To Do' were compiled.

(2) Attendance at 'Enjoy Washoku Style Reception -- World meets OISHII Japan in New York' (a Japanese cuisine dinner event)

From 7:45 to 9:I0 p.m., Mrs. Abe attended the 'Enjoy Washoku Style Reception -- World meets OISHII Japan in New York' (a Japanese cuisine dinner event) hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Around 120 people were invited to this event, including New York business people, media representatives and food-related operators. An American chef who had visited Japan to select local ingredients used them to prepare Japanese dishes that conveyed the appeal of Japanese cuisine.
In her opening address Mrs. Abe explained that "With Japanese cuisine a sense of the season is important, and the dishes capitalize on the natural flavors of the ingredients. I want lots of people to come to know the magnificence of Japanese cuisine." Mrs. Abe also met with famous American food writers and business people, and sought to promote an understanding of Japan via its food culture.

3. September 24

  • Giving a speech at a womenomics seminar
    Giving a speech at a womenomics seminar
  • At a character bento photography exhibition workshop
    At a character bento photography exhibition workshop
  • Visiting Isabella Geriatric Center
    Visiting Isabella Geriatric Center

(1) Attendance at US-Japan Womenomics Seminar

For one hour from 9:30 a.m., Mrs. Abe participated in the 'US-Japan Womenomics Seminar.' Hitachi America Chairman Takashi Hatchoji and New America Foundation President Anne-Marie Slaughter gave speeches on the measures to support active participation by women, including active promotion of women at companies and altering perceptions about employment of women.
Mrs. Abe gave a keynote speech in which she presented an overview of the 'World Assembly for Women in Tokyo (WAW! Tokyo 2014)' recently held in Tokyo. Based in part on her own experiences as the wife of the Prime Minister, she discussed approaches to realizing a society in which women shine and feminine motherhood is cherished, and talked about Japanese women who are putting new ways of working into practice.

(2) Attendance at a dietary education program / character bento photography exhibition

At 10:45 a.m. Mrs. Abe attended an opening event for a photography exhibition of character bento (Japanese boxed lunches featuring food decorated to look like popular characters etc.), and participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The photography exhibition presented 30 photographs selected from among the submissions made to the TOMODACHI CHARACTER BENTO CONTEST 2014, a photography competition on the theme of 'character bento,' which are popular even in the U.S. The photography competition was held as one part of a food-related campaign the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is running to promote the appeal of Japanese cuisine and food culture, and the photographs in the exhibition included the four works that won special awards.
Mrs. Abe gave an address in which she explained that bento incorporate parents' affection for their children, since they show their consideration for their children's nutritional balance and the wish that they will thrive and grow bigger. She said she hopes Japan's bento culture will catch on widely around the world.
In addition, at a workshop following this, cooking researcher Machiko Chiba gave a lesson on how to make character bento to Japanese and Chinese elementary-school students. Mrs. Abe observed the children making bento happily together.

(3) Visit to Isabella Geriatric Center

From 12:15 to 1:00 p.m., Mrs. Abe visited Isabella Geriatric Center. Isabella Geriatric Center is a comprehensive facility for senior citizens. It has care facilities as well as senior citizens' apartments, where include almost 30 Japanese nationals.
Mrs. Abe was shown around Isabella Geriatric Center by the center's President and CEO Mark J. Kator and others, after which she held a friendly meeting with center residents over a lunch that included "Akie Rice" she brought with her from Japan. (Note: Mrs. Abe cultivates rice herself without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers).
In her address, Mrs. Abe said it is fantastic that senior citizens can live long and vigorous lives, and it is deeply encouraging to see Japanese and American senior citizens living together happily in the U.S., which is Japan's most important partner. President Kator explained that having residents at the center who are of Japanese descent has been extremely meaningful for himself and others at the center, because it has exposed them to Japanese traditions and values.
Lastly, Mrs. Abe presented the center with an ornamental tile with the word Yume (Dream) in her own handwriting engraved on it, and the 'Akie Book Collection,' and residents sang her a song in gratitude.

(Reference) 'Akie Book Collection,'
Mrs. Abe, with the cooperation of relevant organizations, donates Japan-related books and Japanese language teaching materials to educational institutions and other entities that hold Japanese language and Japanese culture classes in the countries she visits, in the hope that they will prove useful in encouraging further exchanges and the dissemination of Japanese language learning and Japanese culture in those countries.

4. September 25

  • At the "7th Annual World Focus on Autism"
  • Meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Visiting Housing Works
  • Interacting with Achilles International

(1) Addressing Autism Speaks' organizers

From 8:40 to 8:50 a.m., Mrs. Abe visited the venue for the "7 th Annual World Focus on Autism" , and gave an address to the organizers and founders of the organization, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-organizer Ban Soon-taek, the spouse of the U.N. Secretary-General, and others.
Autism Speaks is an NGO that is performing a leading role worldwide by undertaking scientific research and public awareness activities on autism. Since 2008 it has been holding its annual meeting every year in line with the High-Level Week of the U.N. General Assembly in September. Mrs. Abe attended last year's annual meeting.

(2) Meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama

For approximately 30 minutes from 11:20 a.m. Mrs. Abe met with the U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. This meeting was the first time that the first ladies met, and they began by saying they were extremely happy it was possible for them to meet. During the meeting, the first ladies exchanged views on achieving a society in which women shine, which is one of the Abe Administration's top priorities, and activities they are each engaged in, including activities in the field of food safetywhich they are both interested in. They also confirmed that they will cooperate with each other to further strengthen the friendly relationship between Japan and the United States.

(3) Visit to Housing Works (a facility for HIV/AIDS patients)

From 3:30 to 4:15 p.m., Mrs. Abe visited Housing Works, an NGO undertaking remarkable support activities for people who are both homeless and suffering from AIDS, including medical care, residential assistance and job training. After being shown around the facility by the residents and others, Mrs. Abe exchanged views with residents and staff about the process that followed up to moving into the facility and the way of life after moving in, cooperation between supporters and patients, how HIV/AIDS is perceived in American society, and other topics. Mrs. Abe communicated her strong interest and involvement in the HIV/AIDS problem thus far, the significant role the facility is playing in helping patients recover their confidence, and the importance of society at large cooperating on tackling the HIV/AIDS problem.

(4) Interaction with Achilles International (an organization for runners with disabilities)

From 5:00 to 5:45 p.m., Mrs. Abe interacted in Central Park with members and runners from Achilles International, an organization whose goal is to spread the sense of achievement of marathon running to people with disabilities. Mrs. Abe exchanged views with runners with impaired vision and runners who use hand-cycles and wheelchairs, and following that, Achilles International members set off on a run with a call of encouragement from Mrs. Abe.

5. September 26

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Attendance at breakfast meeting hosted by Asian University for Women

From 8:00 a.m., for an hour and a half, Mrs. Abe attended a breakfast meeting at the Asia Society Museum hosted by the Asian University for Women. Around 50 people attended the breakfast meeting, including Asia Society President Josette Sheeran, Columbia University Professor Sheena Iyengar and Asian University for Women supporters, and they discussed the importance of women's education and other topics.
At the beginning Mrs. Abe gave an address and presented an overview of the 'World Assembly for Women in Tokyo (WAW! Tokyo 2014),' which she had also participated in, while mentioning how important education is for realizing a society in which all women shine.

(Reference 1) Asian University for Women (AUW)
Founded in 2008, AUW is based in the Chittagong District of Bangladesh. The university provides higher education to talented women from rural areas, refugee communities and deprived regions of Southern Asia and Southeast Asia. Kamal Ahmad proposed the AUW at the World Bank Task Force on Higher Education and Society. AUW's Provost t is Dr. Hoon Eng Khoo.
In February 2011 former First Lady of the U.K. Cherie Blair began participating in the AUW's activities as a patron. In February 2013 Mrs. Abe began participating in the AUW's activities as a patron.

(Reference 2) Main attendees at the meeting:
Josette Sheeran (Asia Society President);
Sheena Iyengar (Columbia University Professor);
Mursal Hamraz (an Asian University for Women 2014 graduate who is currently working with the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics);
among others.