Mayor Akira Shinoda welcomed the delegates of the 2016 Miss International Beauty Pageant in the northern city of Niigata, which prides itself as home of the country’s most delicious rice, and premiere sake.  The beautiful contestants from around the world will be staying for two days in this major port city along the Sea of Japan, and will be hosted by the Niigata Sogo Gakuin.

During the brief meeting with the mayor at the Niigata City Hall, Miss Hungary, Csillag Szabo, was the first one to break the ice and asked Mr. Shinoda how long has he been serving as mayor, which the former answered coyly through an interpreter “In Japan, mayors can only serve for four years, and this is my fourth term.  I’ve been a mayor for 14 years now,” in which the girls applauded with awe.

Miss Haiti Cassandre Joseph, who has just survived hurricane Matthew, shared her admiration on how Niigata City has been kept clean and free from garbage, as well as maintaining its greenery.  Mayor Shinoda reacted that this is not just an effort coming from the government itself, but it is also due to the people who have been cooperative in maintaining the city as clean and green as possible.

Meanwhile, Miss Australia Alexandra Britton asked the mayor what is his most important responsibility, in which Mayor Shinoda responded without hesitation that “Japan, being prone to earthquake, typhoon and heavy rainfalls, it is my duty on the local level to make sure that we are always prepared during natural disasters, and the safety of the people is our first priority.”  But eventually, he shyly added that the most interesting part of his job is being in this kind of event where he gets the chance to meet beautiful women from around the world.

After the ceremonial photo shooting, the girls were divided into groups where they had the chance to visit historical factories that manufacture sake and miso. / Stephen I. Diaz



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