Table Speech

Making Japan the Leading Country in Beauty Care

October 28, 2015

Ms. Akemi Shimomura
Chairperson, International Cultural Association

 I work in the esthetic business, providing beauty and health care and relaxation. I opened the esthetic salon Miss Paris over 30 years ago, followed by Dandy House which is a salon exclusively for men. I recall how disappointed I had felt to see Japanese businessmen in their shabby suits upon my return from my studies in the US and resolved to “make Japanese men handsome and sophisticated.” Currently, I own 151 salons in Japan. We have expanded our business overseas since 2009 and own 10 salons in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Taiwan. We also have 5 beauty and esthetic schools to train beauticians with high skills capable of providing utmost care to our customers and making them feel relaxed both mentally and physically.

 My dream is to “make Japan the leading country in beauty care.” Both the public and private sectors strive to make Japan a tourism-oriented nation and the number of foreign visitors to Japan is likely to reach 19 million this year. Japanese people, especially women, also love travelling to enjoy delicious meals and spas to become beautiful.

 Japan enjoys the longest life expectancy in the world. I believe there are some secrets for our healthy longevity. Likewise, there are “secrets for Japanese women staying beautiful” even when we get older. It is true that high-quality Japanese cosmetics and our smooth skin type make us look beautiful, but more importantly, Japanese women are refined and elegant and stay beautiful even in our 60s and 70s. What is more, we have inherited the “secrets for healing” that sanctify and stabilize our mind, long nurtured through martial arts, the Zen spirit, tea ceremony and flower arrangement.

 I have worked hard over 15 years to create an authentic Japanese spa that provides the secrets for longevity, beauty and healing. WA-SPA in Ginza opened this fall where guests from Japan and abroad are welcomed by the scent of incense and savory green powdered tea and Japanese confectionery. Our sophisticated top-quality beauty-treatments and massage make our guests healthy and beautiful in body and in mind, utilizing local specialties from across Japan like salt from the Seto Inland Sea and camellia oil from Izu Oshima Island. We also hope to revitalize the local economy.

 I became Chairperson of the International Cultural Association in 2013, with the belief that “all forms of beauty, including music, paintings and scenery, make people happy.” The Association aims to “realize world peace through international exchange, friendship and mutual understanding among different countries.” It organizes the Miss International World Competition for which I had served as a judge from 2007. Contestants from around the world will spend three weeks together to deepen mutual understanding and friendship, overcoming language and cultural barriers, before the world’s most beautiful woman with intelligence and elegance is selected. This year contestants from 71 countries and regions between the ages 18 to 25, mostly university students, are staying in Japan and participating in various programs, including forum on women’s empowerment, charity events and cultural activities to promote tourism.

 There are Three Big International beauty pageants, Miss Universe hosted by the US, Miss World hosted by the UK and Miss International hosted by Japan. Miss International was first held in California, USA, in 1960 but the hosting right was later assigned to Japan in 1968. Pageants were held in Japan as the main event for the Osaka World Expo in 1970, the Okinawa Ocean Expo in 1975, the Tsukuba Science and Technology Expo in 1985 and the Garden and Greenery Expo in 1990. This year’s competition is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as the Tourism Agency.

 Contestants are intelligent and well-educated women deeply interested in international goodwill and social contribution. Many of them became stateswomen, diplomats, anchorwomen, business women or medical doctors with impressive careers. I believe the opportunity of having travelled abroad, meeting remarkable people and having different experiences helped them broaden their horizons and motivate them to aim high.

 Miss International competitions have also been held outside Japan, in Macau, Beijing and Chengdu, partly because we had failed to attract sponsors after the economic bubble burst. I find it a little disappointing as I want the contestants to stay in Japan to enjoy and appreciate its beauty and culture and disseminate information throughout the world. I am delighted that Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and strive to continue hosting the Miss International back in Japan up to 2020.

 The winner of this year will be announced on November 5th at the final held at Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa in Tokyo. I sincerely hope the contestants will come to love Japan by visiting various places, experiencing the beautiful nature and townscape, understand our history and local specialties and communicating with local people. Each year, we invite about 70 contestants representing their countries. If we can help them love Japan and support Japanese companies operating in their respective country/region or planning to expand overseas, it will surely be a big encouragement. I commit myself to offer the best hospitality to the contestants. Please look forward to the final to be held next week.