Address from Consul General Takaoka: JET Programme Returnee Reception 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to this house on this happy occasion of congratulating the successful participation in and completion of JET programme by two of our main guests tonight, Ms. Melissa Victoria Kirkland-Swann and Ms. Sheona Elizabeth MacAulay.

I would personally like to thank you for your precious service and dedication while in Japan, resulting in not just improving English ability of your former Japanese pupils and colleagues but building bridges that connect Japan and Scotland with warm friendship, especially in times of difficulties.

I am also happy to learn that Mr. Alexander Donald is with us today, who also completed his two years study under the Thomas Glover Scholarship.

All of these young scots deserve a round of applause. Congratulations and Welcome home.

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself and my wife Yumi, because we are quite new in this town of Edinburgh, only one month old as the master of this house. But in fact, we are very happy to revisit this beautiful city after 34 years of interval since the summer of 1984 when we enjoyed a round tour of Scotland while I was studying at Oxford University.

Let me also express our heartfelt appreciation to the members of the Japan Society of Scotland for their valuable and longstanding activities to nurture friendship between our two nations.

Especially, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate, because this is the first time for me to meet its Treasurer, Mr. Callum Farquhar for the recent announcement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry to commend him for his invaluable contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and the United Kingdom. Congratulations. I understand that the official ceremony of conferment will be arranged and informed in due course.

I believe nobody in this room needs an explanation what JET is. But one thing I can inform you is that back in 2001, I myself was a director in charge of this Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme in the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo. In that capacity, I emphasized the importance of building networks of Jet Alumni all over the world. This experience makes me all the more thankful to the great work done all those years by the committee members of JETAA Scotland, chaired by Mr. Matthew Sanders.

This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the JET programme’s launch back in 1987. I am very glad to learn that we have an original JET member dating back to that particular year in this room, Dr. Amy McNeese-Mechan, who started her JET career back in 1987 in Osaka. Since then, more than 65,000 hopeful youth from 65 countries all over the world followed her footsteps and participated in this program.

Such accumulation of goodwill is certainly an important basis upon which we can build further friendship between Japan and Scotland and I am sure that I can count on a strong resonating goodwill coming from the Scottish Government, kindly represented by international team leader Mr. David Johnson.

I am also glad that we have also representatives of the Japanese companies based in Edinburgh, Mr. Naoki Okusawa of Mitsubishi UFJ Baillie Gifford Asset Management Ltd, Mr.Naohiro Muta of Mitsubishi Electric Air Conditioning Systems Europe Ltd., and Mr. Hiroshi Ohashi of Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin Biologics Co., Ltd, EU branch.

It is actually my humble intention to encourage exchanges between JET returnees and Japanese companies so that someday somebody might find it attractive to continue to build their career in Japanese environment.

Since we are approaching the end of 2018, I would like to mention that the year 2019 and 2020 will offer rare opportunities for Japan and UK to strengthen our bond and friendship even further. Japan is hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2020. Both, I mean rugby and Paralympics originated from UK and it will be only natural that our mutual interest on the national level is destined to grow.

To mark the period linking these two major events, the UK-Japan Season of Culture will take place based on the agreement by the two Prime Ministers. I would like to encourage your interest and participation in the various events to be planned during this Season of Culture.

In this context, the opening of the Exploring East Asia gallery in the National Museums Scotland next year will be a definite positive sign. I am grateful for the presence of Ms. Alison Rae tonight and looking forward to working with her.

Thank you very much.