ANSWERING QUESTIONS: Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Indar Bhagwandeen, principal of Springvale Hindu Primary School, field questions from reporters during her visit yesterday. —Photos: DEXTER PHILIP

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Mrs Abe loves mango chow

Japan PM’s wife samples local delicacy

By \\\\\ Sandhya Santoo sandhya.santoo@trinidadexpress.com

There was heavy police presence as curious residents came out of their homes yesterday to catch a glimpse of the wife of the Japanese Prime Minister who visited Claxton Bay. 

As part of a two-day visit to Trinidad and Tobago, Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visited Claxton Bay resident Parbattee Soondarlal and the Springvale Hindu Primary School. 

Soondarlal, 63, was asked by the school’s principal, Indar Bhagwandeen, to host the Japanese delegates.

Minister of Works and Infrastructure and Tabaquite MP Surujrattan Rambachan said Abe asked to go to the home of a resident in the area. 

Abe toured Soondarlal’s home and enjoyed mango chow for the first time. 

Soondarlal’s 11-year-old grandson, Aaron Maharaj, died four years ago of the dengue virus. He was a Standard Five pupil of the Springvale Hindu Primary School.

She remembered him yesterday while gushing over the visit of Akie Abe. “It was a precious moment in my life, I was very excited. If he (Aaron) was here he would be the first to greet her,” she said. 

Abe then visited the primary school where she was warmly greeted by pupils, teachers and the principal. She sat in a classroom among the children, as Rambachan answered questions from the pupils with the assistance of an interpreter. 

The pupils asked, “What is the main religion in Japan?” to which she replied, “There are a variety of religions in my country”. 

Another question was, “Do children wear uniforms in Japan?” Abe  replied: “Usually in State schools they don’t, but I went to a private school so I wore a uniform.” 

Abe was also asked if she tried any local dishes which she laughed and said, “I tried mango chow for the first time and it was delicious.” 

Abe asked the pupils what were their favourite subjects and the careers they would want to pursue.

She also asked the children if they enjoyed their visit on board the Japan training ship which had docked earlier this year. The pupils replied, “Yes”. 

Abe took photos with pupils and toured the school’s Greenhouse Project. The Embassy of Japan donated $500,000 for the construction of five greenhouse institutions in South Trinidad. 

Rambachan said the Greenhouse Project was initiated to bring foreign affairs closer. 

He said, “It was part of a project with embassies in general to bring foreign affairs closer to communities and introduce the embassies to communities.” He also said that the Japanese people have a deep appreciation of people and thought it was a good gesture for the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife to visit. 

 Bhagwandeen gave a review of the school and thanked the Government of Japan for selecting the Springvale Hindu Primary School for the Greenhouse Project. 

Her party ended the tour with lunch at the Springvale Community Centre with the pupils and staff.

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