Lunch with Mrs. Akie Abe, February 20, Salesforce, San Francisco

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On February 20 the Japan Society of Northern California, with the support of Salesforce, Skadden, Houlihan and Lokey and Olympus, hosted a lunch in honor of Mrs. Akie Abe to discuss how San Francisco and Japan can learn from other how to promote diversity and protect the rights of under-represented groups.  Civic, business and academic leaders from the Bay Area explained how their organizations are empowering women, the LGBTQ community and the disabled and addressing challenges of discrimination and exclusion.

Mrs. Abe began her talk by pointing to the picture on the lunch program of her at last year’s Gay Pride Parade in Tokyo as she described the difficulties that women, gays and the disabled face in Japan.  She explained that social views were changing with increased awareness, though Japan still had a long way to go.  One participant noted that in some areas – job quotas for the disabled and effective enforcement of access regulations, for example – Japan was ahead of the US.  After an insightful discussion, we proposed to continue this discussion in Tokyo and Mrs. Abe agreed.

Many thanks to the spouse of Japanese prime minister for taking time from her busy scheduled to join us, to our sponsors whose support made the lunch possible and to the Bay Area community and business leaders who generously shared their time and perspectives with Mrs. Abe.

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Mr. Larry Greenwood, President of Japan Society of Northern California and Mrs. Akie Abe, the Spouse of Japanese Prime Minister