By Steve Elliott
Japan's First Lady Akie Abe raised eyebrows this month after telling a Japanese magazine that she's considered becoming a hemp farmer to help revive the traditional culture.
Abe, in an interview with Spa!, was quoted as saying she'd become interested in hemp cultivation and considered applying for a permit to grow the plant after studying its history, reports Jun Hungo at The Wall Street Journal.
"Hemp is a plant of which all of its parts can be used effectively," Abe said. "While it is not yet permitted in Japan, I think it can be put into great practical use for medical purposes as well."
Japan maintains a hard line with its marijuana laws. The Cannabis Control Law enacted in 1948 bans the cultivation, purchase, import and export of marijuana. But before that, hemp was widely grown in Japan and used to make fabric and for use in imperial ceremonies.
There are still legal hemp farms in Japan, but they are rare and require special permits.
Abe said she'd like to revive the Japanese tradition of cultivating hemp. "I've even considered myself to apply for a permit to grow hemp," she said.
The article included a photo of the First Lady visiting a hemp farm in western Japan in August and posing for a photo in the middle of the hemp field.
Photo: Akie Abe/Facebook