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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Remarks by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Dinner on the Occasion of the Seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7)

May 22, 2015

Iwaki, Fukushima

[Provisional translation]

Your excellencies the Pacific island leaders, and distinguished spouses,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Tonight, I would first like to offer a round of applause in welcoming Prime Minister Bainimarama of Fiji, who took office as Prime Minister through democratic elections this past September, as well as President Christian of Micronesia, who was just elected this month.  Japan also just recently gave recognition to Niue as a state, and here tonight I would like to offer my congratulations together with all of you.

Just like all of you, I cannot wait longer before eating tonight’s meal.  This evening’s cuisine features washoku, Japan’s traditional dietary culture registered on the World Heritage list, which makes lavish use of ingredients now at the height of their season sourced right here in Fukushima.  We have also prepared various kinds of drinks produced locally.   Please enjoy tonight’s selection to your hearts’ content.

But before we begin, I would like to say a word or two about Spa Resort Hawaiians, where we are now.
Back when I was a child, this town produced lots of coal.  As the coal resources dwindled and the role of coal came to be replaced by oil, the people of Iwaki showed their resilience.

What emerged was this resort.  The biggest attraction was the Hula Girls.  The resort enjoyed high popularity because at the time, for just a pittance—only US$3— a visitor could feel as if they had set foot in Hawaii.  This story, in which it was the daughters of the coal miners metamorphosing into Hula Girls that preserved employment in the local area, captured people’s attention nationwide upon being turned into a film in 2006.

Five years later, on the 11th day of March 2011, this resort was forced to close because of the great earthquake that struck this region, but the local people showed their resilience once more.  And those at the very forefront leading the way were none other than the Hula Girls.  Even though they themselves were also victims of the disaster, they toured the disaster areas and other places around the country performing, in a demonstration of their indomitable spirit.

And then, four years since that time, reconstruction has progressed to the point where we can invite you all here.  How about that.  I hope that now you can hardly wait to see the Hula Girls perform after dinner.

I understand that in Palau, when people use beer to drink a toast, they say, “Tsukarenaos!”  This expression has its roots in Japanese—“tsukare” means to get tired and “naosu” means to overcome that fatigue. 

I very much hope that after coming such a very long way, tonight you enjoy the hot spring baths and melt away any fatigue you might feel.

So let’s raise our glasses for a Palau-style toast, wishing for the success of this Pacific Islands summit as well as a future of affluence for the Pacific.

Tsukarenaos!  Kanpai!

Thank you very much.

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