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Political sweetener: Japan PM Abe to get branded honey
[TOKYO] Step aside Abe-nomics, the Shinzo Abe brandwagon is rolling on... into honey, after the Japanese prime minister's wife decided to establish a beehive at their official residence.
First lady Akie Abe wants hives enough for up to 10,000 Japanese honeybees, right in the centre of Tokyo, and intends to harvest "Abe-brand" honey later this year, reports and an NGO said.
Mrs Abe, who frequently speaks out on environmental and social issues, apparently took her inspiration on apiculture from her American opposite number, Michelle Obama, who has bees at the White House.
The Ginza Honey Bee Project, a non-profit organisation that keeps honey bees in the Japanese capital, told AFP they will offer a helping hand to Mrs Abe in how she should care for her stripey charges.
The Abes visited Washington in April this year, where the two first ladies compared notes on the global decline in the number of bees.
Bees are vital to the life-cycle of many plants, including a lot of crops grown for human consumption, because of their role in pollination.
But increasing use of pesticides has killed a large number of the insects, and some scientists warn of impending disaster that could even cause food shortages.
After returning from Washington, Mrs Abe got in touch with the Ginza Honey Bee Project.
"I'm impressed honey can be harvested in the centre of Tokyo," she wrote on her Facebook page in May.
"The environment where bees can live is an environment where humans can live safely. I want Japanese bees to come back." Mrs Abe intends to fill the hive with up to 10,000 Japanese honeybees, possibly as early as this month, Jiji Press said.
"If things go smoothly, 'Abe-brand' honey is expected to be harvested in the autumn," the agency reported.