"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Remarks by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at "Visit Japan Tourism Seminar"

[Place] JW Marriott Essex House, New York, USA
[Date] September 19, 2016
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Full text]

It's good to be in the Big Apple and I say hello to you all.

Think of sushi. Part of the allure that Japanese food offers is that it is good for your health. And it's not just sushi. Japanese beef, or wagyû beef, with its variety, gives you melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Kobe beef is a variant that once tasted so good to Joe Bryant that he named his youngest child and only son Kobe, the NBA superstar who just retired. I don't know if you can find Angus or Hereford adopted as Japanese names, but please do come to Japan and enjoy Japanese cuisine and food culture.

A year ago, this same seminar brought me to tell you of Japan's appeal and charm. One year since, the number of U.S. tourists visiting Japan has increased by more than 10 percent, now exceeding 1 million for the first time. Permit me to address the seminar again the second time, as I'm hoping that the number will grow by yet another 20 percent.

Now that the great games of the Olympics and Paralympics are over in Rio de Janeiro, it's Tokyo's turn. My hope is that Tokyo 2020 will be a big festival of peace, generating and disseminating to the world dreams, excitement, and the value of peace. It is also my strong hope that the event will grow people to people ties, with trust and empathy among them, and strengthen friendship and peace to connect the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, with us today is Kaori Ichô, the first woman to win gold medals in four Olympics in a row. Our proud wrestler is from the northern-most part of the Honshu Island, Aomori, a prefecture of renown with its Shirakami Mountain Forests, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Oirase Stream, where the beauty of pristine nature is simply stunning.

And it is in the north-eastern part of Honshu, including Aomori, that we've been doing a lot to promote tourism ever since the great tsunami hit the region on 3-11, 2011. It's a great region, really, with lively festivals taking place in summer and many ski resorts for the winter season, dotted with hot springs surrounded by scenic beauty.

And thank you, Bobby, for joining us today. Bobby Valentine, a great baseball coach of the Marines in Japan and the Red Sox in your rival city, ...brought kids from the U.S. over to Japan after 3-11 to let them play baseball with kids from tsunami-stricken Iwate. Thanks very much for that, Bobby.

Kasumi Ishikawa. She won a bronze in Rio in the table tennis team tournament. And from my own constituency, Yamaguchi, is she also from. I can tell you that in Yamaguchi you can go see Kintai-kyo, an old bridge with five wooden arches, or Akiyoshido, one of Japan's biggest limestone caverns. Lest you forget, you could eat fugu, or blowfish, dishes.

And YOSHIKI is also with us. A man truly multi-talented, the X JAPAN leader is now also a kimono designer. By launching his own kimono brand, YOSHIKIMONO, YOSHIKI is determined to create the allure of a new Japan. Please do come to Japan also to get yourselves exposed to the \"cool Japan\" culture.

Last year, we had 20 million visitors from abroad. That is more than double the number three years previous. My country is further investing into offering omotenashi, or hospitality, from up north in Hokkaido to down south in Okinawa, with 2020 a target year.

I would appreciate it very much if you could see how we are telling the world of Japan's charm and attractiveness, and perhaps help us do a better job.

Thank you so much.