Countries & Regions

(June 18-19, 2013)

June 27, 2013
Visit to St Ciaran’s Special School
The Long Room of Trinity College
With the wife of Taoiseach, Mrs. Fionnuala Kenny
(Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)
From June 18 to June 19, Mrs. Akie Abe visited Dublin, Ireland, where she accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a courtesy call on H.E. Dr. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, and his wife; held a meeting with the Taoiseach’s (Prime Minister of Ireland) wife, Mrs. Fionnuala Kenny; and had various exchanges with many other people.

1. Courtesy Call on H.E. Dr. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, and Mrs. Sabina Higgins

Mrs. Abe paid a courtesy call on President Michael D. Higgins and his wife.
A dance using the national flags of Japan and Ireland
Students explain their water conservation initiatives
2. Visit to St. Ciaran’s Special School

(1) The principle goal of St. Ciaran’s Special School is to teach children with slight learning disabilities the skills and knowledge they need to live independently in society and to support their independence. Mrs. Abe was greeted by Principal Ms. Valerie Monaghan, who expressed her great pleasure that the first lady of Japan had made time to interact with the children of Ireland, and reported that the children had been studying Japan in anticipation of the visit. Mrs. Abe also received artworks created by the children in commemoration of her visit, and there was a presentation by the student of Irish dance and song using sign language.
Mrs. Abe expressed her gratitude for the warm welcome, and said even though Japan and Ireland are geographically far, she felt that two countries shared many things in common and were close in their hearts. She mentioned that it would be a great pleasure if this visit will build momentum for Japan and Ireland to understand more about each other.

(2) In the school courtyard, Mrs. Abe heard an explanation of environmental conservation activities from the students of St. Ciaran’s Special School. The school is participating in an international environmental education program that works to foster a spirit of cooperation and contribution to regional society through environmental initiatives such as recycling and energy conservation activities. The school has been recently praised for its remarkable results with water conservation, and has received a Green Flag, which was given to schools undertaking outstanding initiatives. Mrs. Abe raised the Green Flag together with the children and shared excitement that the initiatives of the students were highly evaluated.
Mrs. Abe with former JET programme participants
3. Meeting with former JET Programme participants

(1) Mrs. Abe visited Trinity College Dublin, where she had a meeting with six former JET Programme participants in the College’s library. Over 1,000 young people from Ireland have been involved in the promotion of international exchange in Japan through the JET Programme over past 25 years. The former participants are acting as a bridge between Japan and Ireland, contributing to the further deepening of bilateral relations today. Mrs. Abe heard about the individual experiences of each former JET Programme participant in Japan as well as about their initiatives and thoughts on the further deepening of the Japan-Ireland relationship. She communicated gratitude for the efforts of JET Programme participants over so many years for friendly Japan-Ireland relations, and expressed her expectations for the continuation of the bonds between the participants and Japan.

(2) Following this, Mrs. Abe visited the Long Room of the Library, where she received explanations on Ireland’s oldest harp and the Book of Kells, a work created 1,000 years ago. The collection of the library embodies the rich cultural wealth of Ireland, which has produced many Nobel laureates in literature. The personnel of the College are playing an important role in maintaining and preserving these historic assets.
4. Meeting with Mrs. Fionnuala Kenny

At the end of her stay in Dublin, Mrs. Abe held a meeting with Mrs. Fionnuala Kenny, wife of Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D., Taoiseach, at her accommodation. Mrs. Kenny welcomed Mrs. Abe on her visit to Ireland, the first case by an incumbent Prime Minister of Japan and his wife. Mrs. Abe again expressed gratitude for the welcome received from the Ireland side, and for the support offered by Ireland at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. She stated that although it was a short stay, she could enjoy heart-to-heart communication with people of Ireland through exchanges with the children of St. Ciaran’s Special School and former participants of the JET programme. She also expressed her hope that this visit will build momentum to further promote friendship between Japan and Ireland.

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