February 10, 2015 Vol. 11, No. 1

· New Year's Reflection by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

· Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Visits Middle East

· 2014 APEC Ministerial Meeting in Beijing

· Japan's new response to the Ebola outbreak

· JapanGov App - The Official App of the Government of Japan

· The 5th Annual Nengajo New Year's Card Contest Winners

· 2015 Sakura Matsuri Events

New Year's Reflection by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

-Cabinet Secretariat
January 1, 2015

I extend to you my very best wishes for a happy new year.

Two years have passed since I assumed the office of Prime Minister.  During this time, I have dedicated my utmost efforts to taking on a range of important issues, including notably the revival of the Japanese economy as well as reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, rebuilding education, reforming social security, and putting our diplomacy and security back on the right footing.  Moreover, I have also been tackling head on such new issues as vitalizing local regions and creating a society in which all women shine.

(Photo: Cabinet Public
Relations Office)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Visits Middle East

-Ministry of Foreign Affairs
January 16-21, 2015

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel, and Palestine from January 16 to 21. For an itinerary, an overview and evaluation of the visit, an overview and outcome in each country, and access to all related information please check here.

(Photo: Ministry of
Foreign Affairs)

2014 APEC Ministerial Meeting in Beijing

-Ministry of Foreign Affairs
November 7-8, 2014

On November 7 and 8, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting (chaired by Mr. Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, and Mr. Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China) was held in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China, and foreign ministers and ministers responsible for trade from 21 countries and regions participated in the meeting (Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Yoichi Miyazawa, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, attended the meeting from Japan). Under the theme of the 2014 Beijing APEC “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership,” the participants exchanged opinions on a wide range of fields such as “Advancing regional economic integration,” “Promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth,” and “Strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development.”

As a result of the meeting, a “Joint Ministerial Statement" was released.

Japan's New Response to the Ebola Outbreak

-Ministry of Foreign Affairs
January 30, 2015

On 7 November, the Government of Japan decided to provide medical and epidemic prevention equipment to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (USD 4.02 million for each government, USD 12.06 million in total), and to make a financial contribution to the UN Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (USD 5.94 million) with a view to supporting the activities of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). This new contribution of USD 18 million marks the completion of the allocation of USD 40 million, which was announced by Prime Minister Abe on 25 September at the UN High-level Meeting on Response to Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in New York.

On the same day, the Government of Japan announced to provide further assistance amounting up to USD 100 million in a continuous and timely manner to respond more effectively to the Ebola outbreak, with a view to rebuilding the health system of the affected countries and stabilizing the societies of those countries, in addition to treating the infected patients and stopping the current Ebola outbreak.

On 28 November,the Government of Japan decided to provide approximately 700,000 sets of PPE upon the request from four Ebola affected countries, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali . Out of the above, 20,000 sets of PPE will be transported by a Self-Defense-Forces airplane (as part of the Japan Disaster Relief Team) to Accra, the Republic of Ghana within days, where the headquarters of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) is based.

JapanGov App - The Official App of the Government of Japan

-Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Government of Japan has launched an official app called "JapanGov." JapanGov provides a variety of information through e-magazines, HTML content and various governmental social media sources to offer users a variety of information including charms and strengths of Japan such as politics, culture and geography. The free app also allows uses to view the JapanGov website conveniently and easily. The front page picture, which is updated every month, is currently a Japanese apricot blossom. With 'JapanGov' app, you can find out more about Japan!

The app is available on iOS, Android, and Kindle.

Megan G.
Falls Church, VA

The 5th Annual Nengajo New Year's Card Contest Winners

-Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan

The Embassy of Japan’s Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) hosted its fifth annual Nengajo New Year’s Card contest from November 17th to December 15th, 2014. Because 2015 is the Year of the Sheep, contestants were asked to include one of the kanji for sheep as well as the year “2015” in their submissions. The designs were also limited to the traditional postcard size of 4x6 inches. We received a record-breaking number of submissions from all ages, with over 110 nengajo cards total. Submissions came in not only from the DC Metro area, but from all around the world, from California to Thailand.

Lya C.
Torrance, CA
Winners and runners up were chosen for Adult (18+), Youth (11-17) and Child (0-10) categories. Four nengajo were also chosen for honorable mentions in Most Creative and Most Traditional. All of the nengajo were displayed in a month long exhibit at the JICC in January, alongside other traditional Japanese New Year items.

Megan G. from Falls Church, VA received the first place prize in the Adult category. Lya C., from Torrance, CA was the winner of the Youth category, and Mia M. from Bethesda, MD was the winner for the Child category. All the winners received fukubukuro, a Japanese customary grab-bag of goodies to celebrate the New Year, as well as a copy of the Washington DC Sakura Newspaper which featured their nengajo designs on the front page.

Mia M.
Bethesda, MD

Runners-Up and Honorable Mentions were:

  • Young-eon K., Federal Way, WA (Adult)
  • Hiromi J. V., Torrance, CA (Youth)
  • Ella S., Vienna, VA (Junior)
  • Jenny P., Torrance, CA (Most Creative)
  • Hayden H., Boonsboro, MD (Most Creative)
  • April K., Herndon, VA (Most Traditional)
  • Jaimee H., Torrance, CA (Most Traditional)

We thank all those who participated in the 2015 Nengajo New Year’s Card Contest for making this year such a resounding success. We look forward to seeing all your designs in our 2016 contest!

(Photo: National Cherry
Blossom Festival)

2015 Sakura Matsuri Events

-Embassy of Japan

The 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival is fast approaching! Events are already being annouced and tickets are available for advanced sale.

As such the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Information and Culture Center have been compiling a list of featured events for all interested. Event lists will be constantly updated throughout the NCBF, so be sure to check back often!