On June 3rd, 2016, the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) Hikone campus was honored to host Ms. Akie Abe, wife of current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. The Japanese First Lady met with JCMU students and faculty as well as individuals from Shiga Prefecture involved in activities that support local citizens and the environment.
The purpose of the gathering, entitled “Clothing, Medicine, Food and Housing in Shiga (Ohmi), Tohoku and Kyushu,” was to discuss information pertaining to various activities relevant to the development of future generations of citizens in the areas surrounding Lake Biwa. During the event, the First Lady sought to shed light on often unseen contributions that people are making to benefit Japan. Ms. Abe used her own experiences in past business ventures as examples, discussing how she started a business to promote the sale of agricultural products from her home town in southwestern Japan.
Participants were given the chance to speak to Ms. Abe regarding their own contributions to Japan. Local guests from Shiga Prefecture discussed the ways in which they are promoting Shiga products and helping to improve local communities and the environment. JCMU Resident Director, Benjamin McCracken, gave a short presentation about JCMU, focusing on the importance of the Michigan/Shiga relationship and describing what JCMU does to support the local community through internship and homestay experiences. The students introduced themselves to the First Lady and had a chance to learn from her what they can do to benefit both themselves and the world around them.
JCMU and the attendees from Shiga Prefecture greatly appreciate Ms. Abe’s visit to Hikone. JCMU hopes that her visit will help to foster continued economic growth and measures to improve environmental sustainability within Shiga Prefecture, and connect JCMU and its students to the local and national community in Japan.