National / Politics

Shima, capital of pearl cultivation, to host G-7 summit in 2016

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday next year’s Group of Seven summit will take place in the picturesque but isolated city of Shima, situated at the end of a peninsula in Mie Prefecture.

Abe made the announcement at Haneda airport in Tokyo before departing for this year’s G-7 summit in Elmau, Germany.

“I’ve chosen Mie Prefecture so that (world leaders) will be able to feel firsthand the beautiful nature and rich tradition of Japan,” Abe told reportersat the airport.

He noted the area is the home of Ise Shrine, one of the nation’s most sacred Shinto sites. The area is thus a good place for G-7 leaders to feel the “spiritual nature of Japan,” Abe said.

“I’d like G-7 leaders to visit Ise Shrine,” he added.

Many cities lobbied to host the lucrative meeting, which will bring together the leaders of Japan, the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Canada and Italy.

Officials said that Abe would choose the host city based on factors including their security and traffic environments, and the symbolic message Japan will be able to send from the venue.

The other cities in contention were Sendai, Niigata, Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture, Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, Nagoya, Kobe and Hiroshima.

As a consolation prize, Abe said the meetings of the G-7 foreign and finance ministers would be held prior to the main summit in some of the seven candidate cities.

The main summit is expected to be held at the Shima Kanko Hotel on Kashikojima Island in Ago Bay.

The island is linked to the mainland by only two bridges, which is considered an advantage due to the tight security that usually accompanies a G-7 meeting.

Shima is part of Iseshima, a region in southeastern Mie that is popular with tourists visiting Ise Shrine. Ago Bay is famous as the place where Japanese pearl farming began in 1893 and remains a major production area today.

“I’d like world leaders to experience the scenes of Japanese hometowns first-hand. I want to enjoy the superb views together with them,” Abe said.

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