The First Lady of Japan is in Honolulu to discuss how to better protect the ocean.
Akie Abe is one of the hosts of the Japan-U.S. International Symposium for Ocean Conservation in Hawaii.
The event gathers prominent female leaders from both sides of the Pacific to discuss ocean conservation, the sustainable management of fisheries and more via policy, education, science and grassroots efforts.
In her keynote speech at the Hawaii Convention Center Monday, Abe argued the detrimental effects of seawalls.
“I have visited the tsunami-hit region countless times. One day in August 2013, I said that I should do as much as I can to help stop those seawalls from being constructed,” she said. “What is the point of building walls of concrete when concrete structures last only for about 50 years? Furthermore with high seawalls, people could no longer trust the mindful gaze to the ever-changing face of the sea, which could be potentially dangerous.
“Seawalls could also hinder fish from swimming upstream into the river and after all, those walls shattered the scenic beauty. Who would wish to visit such places if they could see neither the sea or the white sands?” Abe added.
The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and Sailors for the Sea Japan are key to the symposium’s success.
“The U.S. and Japan can be leaders in advocating for sustainability of our food, of our surroundings, our environment, and Mrs. Abe has been a strong advocate of the importance of that for the people of Japan, but also for the people of the world,” said USJC president Irene Hirano Inouye.
“The U.S. Japan Council’s mission is to build a strong people-to-people relationship between our two countries. We’re especially interested in the next generation of Japanese and Americans,” she added. “I think it’s important that we can continue to educate and to allow the voices of those who will follow to play an important role in the future.”
Abe also took part in a panel that involved students from Kyoto University, Tokyo University, the University of Hawaii and University of Pennsylvania to highlight that next-generation perspective.