Mrs Abe’s program during Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Canberra
On July 8th, Akie Abe met with Ms Elizabeth Broderick, Human Rights Commissioner, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash and others at the Ambassador’s residence to discuss the empowerment of women and advancing women’s leadership across Japan and Australia. Following the meeting, Mrs Abe visited Ainslie Primary School to observe their Japanese class and met some students. Ainslie Primary School is one of the oldest schools to teach Japanese, and also has a sister-school relationship with Tsubai Elementary School in Nara City (the sister-city of Canberra). Mrs Abe presented a number of books as ‘Akie’s Library’ to the school. She also paid a visit to the National Museum of Australian and the Burrunju Aboriginal Art Gallery. At the gallery, Mrs Abe saw some Aboriginal art, listened to a didgeridoo performance and tried her hand at dot painting.
On July 9th, Mrs Abe visited the National Portrait Gallery at the invitation of Margie Abbott, the wife of Prime Minister Abbott. During their meeting after the visit, Mrs Abe thanked Australia for their warm support following the Great East Japan Earthquake, and discussed the impression and the result of visit to Australia and how to support more participation of women in society with Mrs Abbott. Mrs Abe and Mrs Abbott then visited Questacon, the national institution that is the culmination of science and technology cooperation between Japan and Australia. They were briefed about the institution and cooperation in the area of science.
MEXT Alumni Canberra Establishment Ceremony
On Friday 6 June, Ambassador Akimoto invited 22 former MEXT Scholarship recipients to his residence to celebrate the establishment of the MEXT Alumni Association in Canberra. The Japanese government-sponsored MEXT Scholarship allows recipients to study in Japan. In his speech, the Ambassador congratulated the alumni on the establishment of the alumni, thanked the members for maintaining their strong connections and memories with Japan, and for their support as advocates of Japan in Australia. The Ambassador also expressed his hopes for more groups of friends of Japan to spread across Australia. Attending alumni members expressed their hopes to deepen bonds with those with a shared experience of studying in Japan. Following the reception at the residence, alumni members continued the celebrations at an after-party.
Visit of Mr Yoshitaka Shindo, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications to Australia
From Sunday 27th April to Wednesday 30th April, Minister Shindo visited Australia including Sydney. During his visit, Minister Shindo met with the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry and discussed the Geospatial Information Projects, a cooperation project between Japan and Australia using the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System launched by Japan and also covers Australia. Both ministers agreed to finalise the projects as soon as possible. Furthermore, to implement the Geospatial Information Projects, a joint statement was signed including an outline of workshops to be held in Australia. Minister Shindo also met with the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications and discussed the broadband network, and ICT service deployment. Both ministers agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and hold policy dialogue on ICT areas.
Questacon 25th Anniversary Dinner
On Wednesday 19 March, a dinner was held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Questacon. The event was attended by 80 guests, including the Hon Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry, and representative from the government and businesses in Australia, as well as Chairman Yonekura from the Japanese Business Federation (Keidanren) and Ambassador Akimoto. This dinner was held on the opportunity of Keidanren’s visit to Canberra as Keidanren has made significant financial contributions in the establishment of Questacon. Since the establishment of Questacon as a joint project between Japan and Australia in 1988 to mark Australia’s bicentennial anniversary, it has become a symbolic institution of Japan and Australia’s friendship, and science and technology collaboration. At the dinner, Keidanren and the Japanese government were thanked on behalf of Australia for their contribution towards the establishment of Questacon. Representatives from Japan and Australia also expressed their hopes for the dinner opening up further bilateral collaboration in the field of science and technology.
Letter of Appreciation to the Australian Contingent of the UNMISS
On the 3rd of April, Ambassador Akimoto invited Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison and other members of the Australian Army to his residence to confer the Letter of Appreciation to Lieutenant Colonel Drain and Corporal Lawson, who served in the Australian contingent of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) alongside the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force last year. Chief of Joint Staff Office, Japan Self Defense Forces, General Iwasaki had decided to award them for their service.The Ambassador made an opening address by first expressing his respect to Lieutenant Colonel Drain and Corporal Lawson, and commented that the joint activities by the Australian Defence Force and Japan's Self-Defense Force are the foundation of Japan and Australia's amicable relations. Lieutenant General Morrison followed, emphasising it is an honour for the Australian Defence Force to receive the Letter of Appreciation from the Head of Joint Staff through the Ambassador of Japan. Lieutenant General Morrison then proposed a toast, wishing for further deepening of our relationship. While enjoying afternoon tea, the two soldiers shared their activities and experiences in South Sudan..
Farewell for students studying in Japan under the New Colombo Plan
On the 17th of March, Ambassador Akimoto, together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, Senator Brett Mason, Dr. Andrew Leigh MP and Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Ian Young, wished two Australian students from ANU all the very best with their study in Japan under the New Colombo Plan. The New Colombo Plan is an initiative of the Australian Government which supports a range of overseas study opportunities for Australian students through scholarships and mobility grants. The pilot phase of the Plan is now taking place, involving Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore. It is hoped that people-to-people exchange between Japan and Australia will be further promoted through a large number of Australian students studying in Japan under the Plan.
Japanese Cooking Demonstration
On the 25th of February, the Embassy of Japan in collaboration with the Canberra Institute of Technology held a Japanese cooking demonstration. The Japanese ambassador’s chef, Mr Hiromitsu Kato, lead the demonstration which was attended by 80 CIT students training to be chefs. The demonstration introduced Japanese knives and dashi stock, as well as the cooking method of Kaiseki (traditional Japanese meal), such as how to prepare sashimi, appetizers, grilled fish, and tempura. Many students took notes of the recipes, observed Chef Kato’s cutting techniques, and enthusiastically asked questions about handling Japanese knives and deep-frying tempura. Through tasting Takikomi-gohan (rice with vegetables) and taking photos of Kaiseki Chef Kato prepared, the students were able to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese food culture.
Ambassador Akimoto's official visit to NT
Ambassador Akimoto made an official visit to the Northern Territory from the 16th to the 19th of February. The Ambassador met and held discussions in Darwin with the Hon. Adam Giles MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, and the Hon. Sally Thomas AM, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, as well as key figures of various fields and members of Japanese and Australian private enterprises. Ambassador Akimoto attended the memorial services marking the 72nd anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, paying tribute by laying flowers. The Ambassador also laid flowers at a Japanese cemetery in Darwin. Through this visit, Ambassador Akimoto renewed his recognition of the deep economic and historical connections between Japan and the Northern Territory, and hopes for a further strengthening of cooperation with the Northern Territory.
Conferral ceremony for Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun upon the Honourable John Winston Howard OM AC, former Prime Minister of Australia
On the 10th of December, the conferral ceremony for Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun upon the Honourable John Winston Howard OM AC, former Prime Minister of Australia, was held at the Ambassador’s residence. The ceremony was held in a congenial atmosphere, and was attended by the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ian MacFarlane MP, Minister for Industry, Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Health and Minister for Sports, Senator David Johnston, Minister for Defence, and Senator George Brandis QC, Attorney-General and Minister for Arts. Other representatives of government, and family and friends of Mr Howard were also in attendance. Mr Howard visited Japan seven times while he was Prime Minister, and he undertook initiatives in various fields including security and trade which contributed to the further enhancement of relations between our two countries. His contributions had laid the foundation of today’s amicable partnership. Based on these achievements, the government of Japan decided in November of this year to bestow Mr Howard with this honour.
Awards ceremony for the 31st Australia-Japan Relations Essay Contest
On December 5th, the awards ceremony for ACT finalists of the 31st Australia-Japan Relations Essay Contest was held at the Embassy of Japan. The contest receives essay entries from high school students on topics of Japanese culture and social issues. This year there were 727 entries from across the country, and 37 received awards. 2 of these finalists were students from the ACT. Bruce Svensson and Sarah Haider, both from Melrose High School, progressed through to the finals and received a prize in the Highly Commended Essay division. They were each awarded with a certificate and plaque by Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister Imamura. The head of the judging panel, Dr. Peter Hendriks, gave the finalists some comments and feedback, and Bruce and Sarah shared their enjoyment of participating in the contest as well as their future goals in their studies of Japanese.
Japanese Taiko Drum Perfomance and Workshop
On December 4 and 5, a Japanese Taiko drum perfomance and workshop was held at Canberra Girls Grammar School and Namadgi School under the skillful guidance of 3 Japanese Taiko drummers from Melbourne, Mr Toshinori Sakamoto, Mr Mel Ford, and Ms Ami Akimoto. Mr Sakamoto has taught Taiko drumming in Melbourne for many years. He is also the leader of the Japanese taiko group, WADAIKO RINDO, and has performed at events in Australia and overseas, in places such as Fiji and China. The 3 taiko drummers perfomed spectactularly and in perfect coordination during the perfomance. In the workshop, they explained the origin and different types of Japanese drums, and introduced basic drumming techniques. By the end of the workshop, the participants were able to put together each learning module to create a final complete and rythmical Taiko performance.
Ambassador Akimoto Invited to Opening-Pitch Ceremony of Local Baseball Team
Ambassador Akimoto was invited to throw the ceremonial first pitch for Canberra’s local baseball team, the Canberra Cavalry, on Thursday December 5th. As last year’s champions of the Australian Baseball League, the Canberra Cavalry competed in the 2013 Asia Series against Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, as well as other teams representing Asian countries. The Canberra Cavalry spectacularly took out the series. Up until last year, the Canberra Cavalry had players join from the Hanshin Tigers, however unfortunately there weren’t any this year. Baseball is a very popular sport in Japan, so we hope that exchange between Japan and Australia can be further strengthened through baseball.
Emperor's Birthday Reception
On the 4th of December, Ambassador Akimoto and his wife held a reception to celebrate the Emperor of Japan’s birthday at the Ambassador’s residence. 380 guests attended the celebrations including the Hon. Ian MacFarlane MP, Minister for Industry, Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Assistant Minister for Defence, Hon. Phillip Ruddock MP, Chief Government Whip, and Hon. Teresa Gambaro MP on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP. Other attendees were representatives from the federal government and federal agencies, embassies, universities, and Japanese companies, as well as members of the Japanese community. In his address, Ambassador Akimoto spoke of his visits around the country over the past year and how he once again felt that the current state of Japan and Australia’s friendship is supported by economic and personal exchange. The Ambassador also spoke of his wishes for 2014 of an exchange of visits by our prime ministers, and generating greater momentum in the development of bilateral relations. In a first for the Emperor’s birthday reception, products from Japanese companies operating in Australia were on display. There were also Taiko and Koto musical performances, and Japanese cuisine and sake were provided.
East Meets West 13 Charity Concert
On Saturday November 16, the East Meets West 13 Charity Concert was held at the Ambassador’s residence. Organised by the Australia Japan Society (ACT) Inc., Ms Aiko Goto was accompanied by 3 other members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. This event aimed to raise funds for the Tohoku Youth Program which invites Japanese youth who were orphaned by 2011’s Great East Japan Earthquake to Australia. Ambassador Akimoto and his wife were joined by over 100 attendees, and after enjoying the stellar performance, the attendees joined in to sing in the encore performance of the Japanese song, Natsu no Omoide (Summer Memories).
Remembrance Day Ceremony
As rain fell Ambassador Akimoto participated in the Remembrance Day ceremony on 11th of November which took place at the Anzac Place in front of the Australian War Memorial. He laid a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier in the Hall of Memory. The ceremony was attended by various representatives from the Australian Government, including Her Excellency the Hon. Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of Australia and General David Hurley, AC, DSC, Chief of the Defence Force.
Demonstration of Japanese flower arrangement by Ms Ping Block
On November 10th ikebana master, Ms Ping Block, held demonstration of Japanese flower arrangement, Ikebana at Belconnen Arts Centre. The event was organised by Belconnen Arts Centre and the Embassy of Japan. Ms Ping holds a "Komon", which is a senior teaching qualification by Sogetsu School Ikebana. She teaches ikebana in Canberra and demonstrates at various events such as Floriade and the Canberra Nara Candle Festival. Ms Hiroe Swen, renowned Japanese ceramic artist held her ceramics exhibition “AUSTRAL-JAPANESE HARMONY” at the centre. So Ms Block used Ms Swen’s vases and the audience was impressed with her 6 works which have various devices.
Defense Academy Exchange Students
Ambassador Akimoto received two students from the National Defense Academy of Japan, Mr. Kosuke Suzuki and Mr. Michio Onji, who are currently studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy as part of an exchange agreement between the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the Australian Department of Defence. At the meeting, the two students told the Ambassador about their lives and experiences with their Australian counterparts at the College. Ambassador Akimoto encouraged them by saying that he hoped they would fully understand the importance of promoting confidence building between our two countries through diplomacy and defence and to also utilize the knowledge and experience from their stay in Australia to further strengthen our relations.
Canberra Nara Candle Festival
Canberra Nara Candle Festival was held on Saturday October 26th at the Canberra Nara Peace Park. Ambassador Akimoto, Katy Gallagher, ACT Chief Minister and Gen Nakagawa, Mayor of Nara City attended the candle lighting ceremony. 2,000 candles were lit around the park. On the main stage festivalgoers were treated to performances by Wadaiko Rindo, a shamisen (Japanese guitar) player and by George & Noriko. Throughout the afternoon there were various Japanese cultural demonstrations and workshops as well. At the Embassy of Japan marquee, we introduced some Japanese culture such as origami, calligraphy and water balloon fishing. Being the Australia-Japan Tourist Exchange Year we distributed travel brochures. One highlight of the day’s activities was the “mochi-tsuki” or rice pounding demonstrations and members of the public sampled the soft rice cakes that were made. Approximately 15,000 people attended the Festival and enjoyed the Japanese Culture.
Canberra Nara Sister City 20th Anniversary Reception
Ambassador Akimoto hosted the Canberra Nara Sister City 20th Anniversary Reception on October 25th at his residence. Katy Gallagher, ACT Chief Minister, Gen Nakagawa, Mayor of Nara City and the members of Sister City Committee attended the reception. They celebrated the close exchange and achievement of 20 years as sister cities and exchanged views about the future of the relationship. Sake (Japanese rice wine) from Nara promoted to liquor retailers and restaurant managers in Canberra at the reception.
International Table-Tennis Match at Parliament House 2013
On 24th October 2013, the opening event of the international table-tennis tournament was held at the Great Hall of the Parliament House. Young promising table-tennis players from Australia, Japan, Korea and China have participated. The patron of the event, Mr John Alexander MP made the opening address. Minister Imamura, Charge D’ Affairs, emphasized in his speech the importance of international sports exchanges, praised this event and introduced the Japanese coach and four players.
Ambassador Akimoto's meeting with Mr. John Coates, President of Australia Olympic Committee
Ambassador Akimoto, who visited Sydney, met with Mr. John Coates AO, President of Australia Olympic Committee (AOC) on 17th October. Ambassador expressed his gratitude for the support extended by Australia for Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He also congratulated Mr. Coates for being selected as the Vice President of International Olympic Committee. Mr. Coates replied that he was appointed as the Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad – Tokyo 2020. He also told the Ambassador that the AOC would further promote sports exchange with the Japanese Olympic Committee and that strengthening our bilateral relations through sports should be targeted.
Ambassador Akimoto’s official visit to Victoria
Ambassador Akimoto paid an official visit to Victoria from 9th to 11th of October. In Melbourne, the Ambassador had meetings with numerous representatives of the state government — including His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, Governor of Victoria and The Honourable Dr Denis Napthine MP, Premier of Victoria — as well as members of the Japanese business community. In particular, these meetings highlighted the significance of the deep economic and cultural ties that are shared by Victoria and Japan, and reinforced the Ambassador’s determination to enhance this vital relationship further.
Ceremony to present the Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation to Mrs Pauline Gandel
Ambassador Akimoto presented the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation to Mrs Pauline Gandel on 3rd October at his residence. Mrs Gandel was central in establishing the Pauline Gandel Gallery of Japanese Art at the National Gallery of Victoria as the first public gallery devoted exclusively to Japanese art in Australia. Mrs Gandel has also widely promoted the tea ceremony among Australians for many years. In recognition of such distinguished efforts and achievements, the decision was made to award Mrs Gandel with the Commendation. With her family members and friends at the presentation ceremony, Mrs Gandel affirmed that she would continue the vital work of promoting Japanese culture in Australia.
Ceremony to present the Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation to Mr Paul Gallagher
Ambassador Akimoto presented the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation to Mr Paul Gallagher on 1st October at his residence. Mr Gallagher has served as Executive Director of the Australia Japan Business Co-operation Committee (AJBCC) for 15 years. Notably, Mr Gallagher played a central role in the planning and facilitation of the highly successful 50th Anniversary of the Australia-Japan Joint Business Conference, held last year in Sydney. Accordingly, the decision was made to award the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation in recognition of Mr Gallagher's exceptional contributions to economic exchange between Australia and Japan. At the ceremony attended by Mr Gallagher's wife and friends, Mr Gallagher expressed an eagerness to further enhance the deep economic ties that underpin the invaluable relations shared by Australia and Japan.
Ambassador Akimoto's lecture and reception for AsiaLink
Ambassador Akimoto invited participants of the AsiaLink Leaders Program for a dinner at his residence on 25th September. In front of the 60 in attendance, he gave a talk and stressed that as the Asia-Pacific region, which is the centre of economic growth in the world, faced some potential risks to its peace and stability it was essential to strengthen the cooperation between Australia and Japan to maintain and develop economic dynamism globally. Participants shared Ambassador Akimoto’s sentiments, saying the region needed to better utilise existing regional frameworks due to the changing situation of Asia-Pacific and our two countries to promote further cooperation.
Opening of “PARALLEL NIPPON” and Public Lecture by Dr Thomas Daniell
The opening ceremony of “PARALLEL NIPPON”, the Exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Architecture was held at the High Court of Australia in Canberra on Sepetmber 12th, organized by Embassy of Japan and Japan Foundation. This Exhibition has lots of photos and models of architecture designed by Japanese architects and built in Japan and other countries from 1996 to 2006. At the opening ceremony, it was started from a speech by Mr. Kensuke Yoshida, Minister of Japanese Embassy, and then Assoc. Prof. Eugenie Keefer Bell, University of Canberra, and Dr. Thomas Daniell, a curator of this exhibition, introduced the outline and highlight of this exhibition. And the public lecture by Dr Daniell was held at the University of Canberra on September 13th, organized by Embassy of Japan, Japan Foundation and University of Canberra. Dr Daniell addressed the attraction of contemporary Japanese architecture and the future activities of Japanese architects. The audience understood the Japanese Architecture deeply.
Ambassador Akimoto's speech at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
On 8th of August, Ambassador Akimoto gave a talk about the strategic environment of the Asia Pacific region and the challenges of the region ahead at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. There were about 80 audience, including representatives of the federal government, universities, business and mass media to listen to it. In his talk, he noted that as the region faced some potential risks to its stability, we needed to place our importance on rule making based on regional cooperation, strengthening the alliance and cooperation with countries of shared fundamental values and strategic interests, strengthening confidence building through security dialogues and defense exchanges as well as establishing a mechanism for crisis management. He also stressed that it was essential to strengthen the cooperation between Australia and Japan for the peace and stability of the region. (Ambassador’s speech is here)
69th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout
On 5th of August, Ambassador Akimoto visited Cowra, NSW to attend the 69th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout and placed wreaths at the Japanese War Cemetery. The Mayor of Cowra, representatives of the Australia-Japan Society of Cowra, the Cowar Japanese Garden, the Cowra Breakout Association as well as some students from local schools participated in the ceremony. At the midnight on August 5th, 1944, more than 1,100 Japanese soldiers captured at the prison in Cowra launched a mass breakout. It was tragic as 231 of them were killed along with four Australian soldiers. After the war, Cowra is indicative of how well Australia and Japan have overcome difficulties of the past.
Exhibition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
On August 5th Opening Ceremony of “Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: a quest for peace” was held by Australian Red Cross at the High Court of Australia in Canberra. The Exhibition was held in Adelaide and Brisbane before Canberra, it will be opened until 28th August in Canberra. There are some photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki just after the atomic bomb had blown up. At the Ceremony, it was started from a song by Ms. Yasuko Arimoto (Otsuji). Ms. Junko Morimoto, children’s book artist and survivor of Hiroshima atomic bomb living in Sydney, insisted on the extinction of nuclear weapons from her horrible experience. And Mr. Tetsuro Amano, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission of Japanese Embassy, announced the importance of peace education and the efforts of Japanese Government in order to realize a world without nuclear weapons.
Four Youths from Miyagi Were Invited to Canberra
On July 29th, Yuki Abe, Hina Abe, Moe Chiba and Ichinosuke Endo visited the Embassy of Japan. They were the invitees of the ‘Tohoku Youth Program’ which was established by the Australia Japan Society (ACT) in corporation with Japan Airlines to invite youths who lost their parent in the Great East Japan Earthquake. They were in Canberra for a week from July 27th, and had a busy schedule visiting Radford College during their stay. They received very warm welcome from the students and enjoyed participating in many activities including a classical concert and a ranch observation. They told Ambassador Akimoto about their life with their host family and their dream. Ambassador Akimoto said to them that ‘I would like you to tell your friends about your precious experience and also. I encourage you to keep in touch with the people you have met in Canberra.
Introduction of Japanese Culture at Skate in the City
On Sunday July 28th Embassy of Japan shared a marquee with Canberra Japan Club by the open ice rink at the Garema Place, Civic, as part of the Skate in the City’s Cultural Sunday program. Throughout the day the marquee was inundate with many children and families who enjoyed experiencing calligraphy, origami, spinning tops, and kendama as well as gathering travel information on Japan. On the ice rink, to the tune of J-pop, Ice Skaters with Japanese clothing and Cosplayers add bright colours to many skaters who made most of the final day of Skate in the City.
Demonstration of Japanese flower arrangement by Mr Tetsunori Kawana
On July 26th ikebana master, Mr Tetsunori Kawana, held demonstration of Japanese flower arrangement, Ikebana at the Ambassador’s residence. The event was organised by Sogetsu Ikebana and the Embassy of Japan. Master Kawana is now based in New York and working as a contemporary Japanese installation artist and Master Instructor of Ikebana. He has travelled all over the world for many years to introduce Ikebaba, the art and design of Japanese flower arranging, through demonstrations exhibitions and master classes. Master Kawana demonstrated Japanese Ikebana arrangements using locally sourced plant materials and vases. Over 90 people gathered to watch his demonstrations, the audience was impressed with his novel 11 works which have various devices.
2013 JET Programme Farewell Reception
2013 JET Programme Farewell Reception was held at the Ambassador’s residence on Wednesday 17 July. About 40 people attended, including 12 new JET Programme participants, former participants and Japanese language teaching staff. The JET Programme, now in its 27th year, is aimed at promoting grass-roots international exchange between Japan and other nations through foreign language education and international exchange activities.Each new participant gave a speech in English and Japanese about their aspirations and were given a rousing sendoff.
Presentation of FUKUOKA PRIZE 2013
The presentation of FUKUOKA PRIZE 2013 was held at Australia National University on July 9th, organized by Fukuoka City and Australia National University. Prof. Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a scholar of Asian Studies, has been selected as the Academic Prize laureate for the FUKUOKA PRIZE 2013. FUKUOKA PRIZE was established by Fukuoka City in 1990 to annually honor the outstanding work of individuals or groups to preserve and create unique and diverse cultures of Asia. Mr. Masanao Nakazono, Deputy Mayor of Fukuoka City presented a Letter of Notification to Prof. Morris-Suzuki at the ceremony. Ambassador Akimoto, together with Prof. Aidan Byrne, Australian Research Council CEO and Mr. Murray McLean AO, former Ambassador to Japan attended and blessed her being awarded the prize with many people. And also they praised her excellent studies and achievements.
Opening reception for the 2013 Conference of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (JSAA)
The opening reception for the 2013 Conference of the JSAA was held at the Ambassador’s residence on Monday 8 July. About 180 people attended including Professor Caroline Stevens, President of JSAA, Professor Ian Young, Vice-Chancellor of ANU and Mr Murray McLean, former Australian Ambassador to Japan (Chairman, Australia-Japan Foundation). To enhance our relationship, further collaboration and cooperation must be undertaken at various levels, including government, business, community and individual levels. It is essential to promote better mutual understanding between our two countries through such exchanges. It is hoped that Japanese studies in Australia will play a more important role to achieve this common goal.
Official Visit to Western Australia
Ambassador Akimoto paid an official visit to Western Australia from 1st to 6th of July. In Perth, he had meetings with representatives of the state government such as HE McCusker, Governor of WA and The Hon Barnet, Premier of WA as well as those from Japanese companies. He also visited a mine as well as Broome, which has a long history of friendship with Japan. He had the chance to visit the Japanese cemetery and to talk with former pearl divers. He was once again deeply impressed by the close economic and historical relations between WA and Japan and is determined to further promote closer ties with WA.
Official Visit to Queensland
Ambassador Akimoto paid an official visit to Queensland from 17th to 20th June. He had meetings with people representing both government and business including The Hon HE Ms. Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of QLD and The Hon HE Mr. Campbell Newman, Premier of QLD in Brisbane. He also visited Cairns. Through these meetings, he is once again impressed by the historical and close economic relations between QLD and Japan once again and is determined to maintain and further promote closer ties with QLD.
Lecture and Workshop by Kirigami (paper-cutting) artist in Canberra
On June 3rd and 4th a kirigami artist from Japan, Kanako Yaguchi, held lectures and demonstration workshops on the art of paper-cutting in Canberra. She visited ACT primary and secondary schools, the ANU School of Art, as well as the National Gallery of Australia. The event was organised and supported by the Japan Foundation Sydney and the Embassy of Japan. At Forest Primary School, Year 2 students learned how to fold and cut paper to make interesting patterns from Ms Yaguchi and made colourful collages. At Merici college, students used kirigami patterns as templates to print tea towels with colourful designs. At the National Gallery's Small Theatre, over 120 people gathered to hear the history and background of the art of paper-cutting and watch her demonstrations. The audience was impressed with Ms Yaguchi's intricate and creative kirigami art as the finished works unfolded before their eyes.
Lunch with the Board Members of the Australia-Japan Foundation
Ambassador Akimoto and Mrs Akimoto hosted a lunch for the Board Members of Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) at their residence on May 28th. AJF was established by the Australian Government in 1976 to expand and develop contact and exchange between the peoples of Australia and Japan and to help project positive images of Australia and Japan in each other's country. AJF helps to promote people-to-people engagement across a diverse range of sectors, including the arts, education, science and technology, sport and business. Mr. Murray McLean AO, the Chairman of AJF and the all of AJF Board Members attended the lunch. They exchanged views with the Embassy officials about the future of cultural projects, people-to-people exchange and business partnership between Australia and Japan.
Official Visit to Tasmania
Ambassador Akimoto paid an official visit to Tasmania from 14 to 17 May. In Hobart, he had meetings with many people representing both government and industry including HE the Hon Peter Underwood, Governor of Tasmania and his wife, as well as The Hon Lara Giddings, Premier of Tasmania. He also had the opportunity to experience beautiful Tasman nature. Japan imports Beef, Dairy products, Aluminium and Woodchips from Tasmania. Japanese companies are also establishing their presence in the island. We will continue to strengthen our ties with Tasmania including promotion of the state’s tourism in Japan and reinforcement of business relationship.
Rugby players' dinner at the Ambassador's Residence
Ambassador Akimoto and Mrs Akimoto hosted a dinner on 10th April for five players from Japanese Top League rugby team, the Kubota Spears who are in Canberra to train with the ACT Brumbies. Former Wallaby, Toutai Kefu is the head coach of the Kubota Spears and symbolises Australia and Japan’s close friendship. The five Japanese players are hoped to be a bridge between our two countries.
Official Visit to South Australia
Ambassador Akimoto paid his first official visit to South Australia from 2nd April to 5th April. In Adelaide, he had meetings with many people representing both government and industry including HE Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, Governor of South Australia and his wife, as well as The Hon Jay Weatherill MP, Premier of South Australia. He also had the opportunity to experience South Australia’s wonderful natural beauty and bountiful produce. Following this visit, we will actively endeavour to maintain and further promote closer ties with South Australia in the future.
Japanese Cooking Demonstration
On March 26th, a Japanese Cooking Demonstration was held at the Canberra Institute of Technology, which was organised by the Embassy of Japan with support of the Japan Foundation. Ambassador’s chef, Mr Hiromitsu Kato, took the main stage to show almost 100 participants Japanese home cooking using locally available ingredients. The menu included hand-rolled sushi, teriyaki salmon and prawn infused miso soup. (These recipes are here).This showcased quintesential Japanese cooking methods and the use of essential seasoning, such as miso paste. The enthusiastic audiences took notes as well as photos. Many questions were raised ranging from ingredients to cooking techniques and Japanese knives. Following the demonstration, the audience enjoyed the afternoon of learning Japanese food culture with sampling of the finished dishes.
Ambassador Akimoto's courtesy calls to Australian political leaders
Since his arrival in Canberra last October, Ambassador Akimoto has paid courtesy calls on various Australian political leaders such as Ms Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition, and Ms Katy Gallagher, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory. Ambassador Akimoto exchanged views with these leaders about domestic policies in Australia and Japan as well as our bilateral relations.
Lunch with Japanese Swimming Team
Ambassador Akimoto hosted a lunch for Japanese National Swimming Team Head Coach Mr Norimasa Hirai’s training squad on Tuesday 12 March. The team consists of several Olympic medalists, including Mr Kosuke Kitajima, Mr Takeshi Matsuda, Mr Kosuke Hagino, Ms Aya Terakawa, Ms Yuka Kato and Ms Haruka Ueda as well as some promising young swimmers. Ambassador Akimoto thanked the swimmers for giving many Japanese people so much fortitude and inspiration following their success at last year’s London Olympics and wished them the best of luck in the future.
Memorial Service for Earthquake/Tsunami Victims in Japan
On 11th March, a memorial service was held to commemorate the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake at Canberra Nara Park. It was organised by the Canberra Japan Club and the Australia Japan Society, ACT Inc. to remember the victims and to show support for those who are still recovering. Many candles were lit to send prayers. After a Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) performance, one minute’s silence was observed by the attendees.
An Evening of Japanese Anime 'Summer Wars'
The Embassy of Japan in conjunction with ANU Japan Institute and the Japan Foundation presented an Evening of Japanese Anime at the Coombs Theatre, ANU on 6th March. The 2009 animated Science Fiction film Summer Wars directed by Mamoru Hosoda was shown after an introductory lecture given by Dr Carol Hayes, ANU Japan Centre on ‘Portals, Avatars and Identity – Interconnectivity in the Anime of Mamoru Hosoda’. She spoke about the history of Japanese anime and characteristics commonly represented in Osamu Tezuka and Hayao Miyazaki’s Anime. Dr Hayes also gave insight into Hosoda’s anime ‘Summer Wars’ and its charm. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the depth of the film and its well-constructed storyline, and the end was met with tremendous applause.
Japanese Taiko drum Workshops
On February 2 and 3, the Embassy of Japan held Japanese drum workshops under the skillful guidance of a Japanese taiko player from Melbourne, Mr Toshinori Sakamoto. Mr Sakamoto has taught taiko drumming in Melbourne for many years. He is also the leader of a Japanese taiko group, WADAIKO RINDO, and performs both in Australia as well as overseas. During the workshop, he expalined the origin and different types of Japanese drums. He then introduced basic drumming techniques. By the end of the workshop, the participants could put together each learning module to create a final complete taiko performance.
Student TV conference between Australia and Japan at the National Broadband Network launch
Ambassador Akimoto, together with Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Kate Lundy, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, attended the official launch in Canberra of the National Broadband Network (NBN), which is currently being rolled out, on Friday 1st February. As part of the launch, students from the Harrison School and Chitose High School in Hokkaido and Tomiodaisan Junior High School in Nara communicated via video-conferencing using the NBN. As the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper suggested, online interactive Japanese language study with students in Japan is expected to be further promoted.
Master Chef, Adam Liaw, visits the Embassy of Japan
On December 19th, Master Chef, Mr Adam Liaw, paid a courtesy call to the Embassy.
Mr Liaw is a popular celebrity chef in Australia and he is planning to host a new SBS food and travel program, which focuses on Japanese cooking and culture.
During his visit to meet Ambassador Akimoto, Mr Liaw talked about his excitement about sampling regional food and introducing various stories to the Australian viewers in his upcoming visit to Japan where he will travel from Hokkaido to Okinawa.
The first pitch at a game of the Canberra Cavalry
Ambassador Akimoto threw the first pitch at the Canberra Cavalry vs. Adelaide Bite baseball game on 30th November. Just after the first pitch he met with Japanese players from the Hanshin Tigers who are here playing for a short stint with the Cavalry and offered them encouragement. More people-to-people exchanges between our two countries through sports such as baseball should be promoted. Ambassador’s pitch went straight through the strike zone much to the delight of the crowd.
Emperor's Birthday Reception
Ambassador Akimoto and Mrs. Akimoto hosted the celebration of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan at their residence on 28th of November.
Chief of Protocol, Ms. Sally Mansfield of DFAT and Ambassador Akimoto toasted celebrating His Majesty's birthday. This year was the first year to host the emperor's birthday reception for Ambassador and Mrs. Akimoto.
The sushi chef from Sydney's Yoshii restaurant, Mr. Yoshii, served sushi in front of the guests. In addition to sushi, Japanese food such as yakitori, okonomiyaki and oden entertained more than 400 guests.
The actual birthday of His Majesty is on 23 December but the reception was held in the end of November in order to welcome guests from the parliament.
Aiko Goto and friends play at the 12th “East Meets West” Charity Concert
The 12th “East Meets West” Charity Concert was held at the Ambassador’s residence on the 10th of November.
Ms Goto was accompanied by her friends from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and played some pieces by Schubert and Mendelssohn.
The charity concert was organised by the Australia Japan Society (ACT) Inc to raise funds for the Tohoku Youth Program which invites young Japanese people who lost both of their parents during last year’s tsunami to visit Australia. More than 100 people attended the event and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful music.
Canberra Nara Candle Festival
Ambassador Yoshitaka Akimoto, who arrived in Canberra just the previous day, participated in the Canberra Nara Candle Festival on 27th October and gave a short speech at the opening ceremony, as his first official duty, emphasizing how greatly the festival contributes to fostering the friendship between both cities and countries.
The Embassy of Japan introduced some Japanese culture such as origami, calligraphy, special calligraphy performance by a calligrapher artist, Ren, water balloon fishing and traditional toys. We also distributed travel brochures promoting Japan as a tourist destination. One highlight of the day’s activities was the “mochi-tsuki” or rice pounding demonstrations and members of the public sampled the soft rice cakes that were made.
According to the ACT government who hosted the festival, approximately 13,000 people attended, signaling that spring had finally sprung in Canberra!