Address from Consul General Takaoka: Oyster Club Dinner at the official residence

Lords, fellow Consul Generals, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you Eric and Janis for allowing me to host this prestigious event and for the wonderful words.  It brings myself and my wife great pleasure and honour to welcome to this house so many distinguished and gracious guests, who, thanks to the Edinburgh Oyster Club can say they are associated with Adam Smith and David Hume!

I understand that six years have passed since this house welcomed members of the Oyster Club. At that time, the host was Consul General Tarahara, who was known to a certain intimate member of the club as a singing Consul General. I am sorry to break his tradition by not singing like him, but I will share with you some of the traditions of this house and Japan later. 

Before that, with Eric's permission, let me share some of the important friends of Japan we have here this evening.

We are truly honoured to have the gracious presences of two members of the House of Lords. The Right Honourable Lord David Steel and The Right Honourable Lord Selkirk of Douglas. On another occasion, we could have talked about the future of Japan and UK and Europe, which looks somewhat brighter now.

Yet, my connection with the Lord Selkirk of Douglas has nothing to do with the House of Lords, but with Balliol College of Oxford University, its oldest college founded in 1263 by John I de Balliol, the father of a son who later became the King of Scotland.
I have not asked Lord Selkirk whether it is wise of me to admit that I matriculated into Balliol in 1983, thirty six years ago this month, which means I attended the ceremony at the same time with the current Prime Minister initialed BJ.

It was intriguing to discover during a recent Gaudy College reunion dinner that the former female students spoke so favourably of him. Anyway, I omit the men's reactions.

We are very much honoured again with the gracious presence of Lord Charles Bruce. Everybody knows the Scottish King Robert the Bruce, Lord Bruce's direct ancestor. But Some of you might not know that Lord's great great grandfather, the 8th Earl of Elgin, after paving the way for Canadian Independence as Governor General of the Province of Canada, headed the British delegation to Tokugawa Shogunate Japan and signed a treaty to open its border and start diplomatic and commercial relations in 1858. I was fortunate enough the other day to appreciate great gifts given by 14th Shogun of Tokugawa to the 8th Earl of Elgin in the magnificent Broomhall.

Our bilateral relations thus started by him, was strengthened by many great Scots including Thomas Glover, who introduced beer and shipbuilding to Japan, Richard Brunton, the “Father of Japanese lighthouses, Henry Dyer, the founding member of Tokyo University and Rita Cowan the “Mother of Japanese whisky".

This positive list continues to this date. I am very much honoured and encouraged to note that Cross Party group on Japan was established at the Scottish Parliament after my arrival one year ago by the distinguished leadership role played by Convenor Dean Lockhart MSP and Deputy Convenor Maureen Watt MSP, who are kindly here with us today.

In the academic world, I commend the great encouragement by Professor Peter Mathieson of the Edinburgh University to increase study and exchange with Japan.

I am also appreciative of Professor Ian Gow of the Japan Society of Scotland and Mr. Roddy Gow of the Asia Scotland Institute for their valuable activities to promote exchange.

As the word exchange suggests, it's not only one way and it's not only currently about rugby! Therefore, I am happy to mention that Ryotaro Meshino,  who joined Heart of Midlothian one month ago, has already scored a goal for his Edinburgh team. I would like to thank its CEO, Mrs. Ann Budge for successfully acquiring him.

Here I would also like to thank Eric again for his personal contribution towards Scottish-Japanese relations. During his time as Convener of the Lothian Regional Council, he had establish twinning links between Edinburgh and Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto. Later during his time as Lord Provost of Edinburgh, the beautiful Edinburgh-Kyoto Friendship Garden at Lauriston Castle was opened in 2002.
Let me reiterate my deep gratitude to all of Japan’s friends including those already mentioned. Thank you very much.
As I said at the beginning, now let me take a moment to share some of the tradition of this house and Japan. 

First, someone of you may have spotted the decoration at the entrance of this House which is the Golden chrysanthemum crest, the Crest of the Japanese Emperor.

Secondly, above that Crest is the sign engraved in the outer wall showing the date the house was built. 1875, a mere 7 years after the Meiji Restoration.

It was built by the famous Edinburgh-born architect Sir Robert Lorimer, who restored many historic buildings and castles to their former glory including Lennoxlove House near Haddington. And I believe Lennoxlove House is the family home of Lord Selkirk so our connection continues.
As a tenant, I am thankful to my Landlord Ross Rennie, also with us, for ensuring that this listed building always looks at its best. 

Since I have started from the outside, the third tradition is the Japanese Flag blowing in the Scottish breeze in the garden. Sorry, there seems to be no breeze now. I’m also sorry all the roses are gone with the wind at this time of the year.

On entering the house, guests are kindly asked as the forth tradition to mark the occasion by signing the guestbook in the drawing room over there.  If you have not signed yet because it was crowded, please check the room again before your departure, because my butler will be serving Ritz class cocktails there so please enjoy them after or even before signing the book. 

The fifth tradition is the freshly arranged Ikebana flower, one of them in front of the golden screen like this. Sometimes I am desperate enough to seek my wife’s intervention to save budget, but today we had enough so we had help from the Edinburgh Sougetsu Study Group.

The sixth tradition is to hang several Nihonga paintings on the wall. In this room, we have two beautiful Scottish paintings.  You can appreciate three Nihongas in the dining room over there and another two in the entrance hall.

In traditional Japanese houses we had paintings on screens like this, on Fusuma, sliding door, or on Kakejiku, hanging scroll. My understanding is that when the Japanese started to live in Western style house and artists started painting in oils and watercolours in the 19th century, this Nihonga style was developed. Please enjoy them after or during my speech, which will end shortly.
The seventh tradition is that all of the official residences of Japanese ambassadors and consul generals are kitted out with a grand piano most probably Yamaha or Kawai, although I don’t know why.

Lastly, but not the least of course, you will see on the mantelpiece photographs of Their Majesties. I have personally displayed this photograph on the 1st of May this year when the new era of Reiwa, meaning Beautiful Harmony in Japanese started with his enthronement.

The official enthronement ceremony will take place on the 22nd of this month. The United Kingdom will be represented by the Prince of Wales. Actually, His Majesty is the same age as me, and we both attended Oxford 36 years ago, although he studied and lodged at Merton, another contending oldest college in Oxford. During his time studying there he did travel up to Scotland to conquer Ben Nevis.
His Majesty most kindly and graciously presented me with his book entitled「 テムズとともに」"With River Thames” in Japanese, which sits in that bookshelf, together with my four books on more secular but as important subjects like President Trump.
Although shifting political climate in Europe makes it ever more challenging to predict its future, just like the Typhoon hagibis, not haggis, currently threatening Japan and Sunday match between Japan and Scotland, one thing quite obvious to me is a renewed importance of Japanese-Scottish relations.

When I paid a coutesy call to the Right Honorable Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, last month, I briefed her that currently Scotland is home to 100 Japanese-owned businesses employing 10 thousand staff and within the past one year since I arrived in Edinburgh, Japan has continued to invest in the future of Scotland.

The newest investment was announced three days ago when External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, currently visiting Japan, met executives from Mayekawa, a world leader in gas compression for industrial refrigeration, oil and gas, and chemical processing, to hear their intention to bring their European center to  Glasgow.

How could I forget, the ninth tradition of this house was to raise a glass to sip Japanese Sake. Of course, as this is the Oyster Club, champagne is also fine.

So let me propose a toast for the good game in Yokohama the day after tomorrow when the Japanese and Scottish men will be grabbing the oval ball, as well as health and further development like them for everybody in this house, the Oyster Club, Scotland and Japan.
“Slanje va”“Kanpai”“To the Emperor” “To the Queen”
Thank you everybody.