Japanese First Lady to Headline Inaugural Kyoto Hemp Forum

Akie Abe, Japan's first lady.

Japan last year grew a grand total of five hectares of hemp. But that output belies the growing enthusiasm for the crop, which has a long history all across Asia, including the Land of the Rising Sun. And now those boosting Japanese hemp have enlisted a powerful ally — First Lady Akie Abe, who will headline the first-ever Kyoto Hemp Forum, an international event set July 2 and organized by the Japan Hemp Association (JHA).

“Hemp can be a viable substitute for fossil fuels, synthetic fibers, tree-based papers, and processed food proteins, which cause global environmental ramifications of unquantified proportions,” the JHA said in announcing the Forum. “Hemp is a viable substitute for deforestation.”

The Forum has drawn leading hemp advocates, practitioners and company reps for the one day program including Paul Benhaim of Hemp Foods Australia and Elixinol (Colorado, USA); U.S. hemp author Chris Conrad, who penned the landmark title “Hemp Lifeline to the Future” as early as 1994; Paul Stanford, founder of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation in the USA; and Argentine farmer and activist Mike Bifari, who led successful cannabis decriminalization efforts in Argentina, and who has an application pending to grow hemp in Uruguay.

Speakers from Japan include Patrick Collins, who teaches Economics at Azabu University and has applied to grow a small hemp field in Japan; Makoto Matsumar, Founder and CEO of Hemp Foods Japan; and Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto.

Leading up to the conference, organizers have are running online forums leading up to and on July 2, 2016 under the hashtag #KyotoHempForum. Delegates from five continents are already set to attend, JHA said.