Consul General Okada is Honorary Chairman of the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia. His message for March, 2013 follows:
One month has passed since my taking the post in Vancouver. During this period of time, I met a number of people at various events for which I was invited, including welcoming receptions for me.
At these occasions, meeting and listening to people helped me recognize more clearly the specific approaches we should take in providing future activities as the new Consul General and as the entire consulate office.
In Japan, Prime Minister Abe, under his new administration, introduced three specific policies for economic revitalization using an analogy of ‘Three Arrows’, a famous anecdote of the country. I also would like to present my 3 specific approaches as follows:
- Improvement of Consular Services Accessibility
Our consulate, as before, will keep providing detailed and attentive Consular Services, and also will offer information, in proactive ways such as seminars, on the Consular issues involving living overseas. As a first for this specific effort, our consulate is having an inaugural seminar on April 19 in the lobby, for the purpose of supporting Japanese parents in understanding the Hague Convention Treaty on child custody.
In addition, we will improve on our out-of-town Consular Services to reach out to the people living outside of the Lower Mainland. Yukon, as well as British Columbia, is one of the consular districts that our office serves, although it is not easy for the people in the territory to come to our office in Vancouver for Consular Services. Therefore, we are planning to travel to Whitehorse as often as possible to offer various Consular Services. On February 20, I visited Whitehorse and met local Japanese people. In addition to processing the Police Certificate applications there, I explained that our consulate would provide out-of-town services in the future as well.
On March 16 and 17, our consulate will be having out-of-town services in Victoria.
- Increased Support to Japanese Businesses
One of the significant roles of the Consulates General of Japan is supporting Japanese businesses. With the advancement of economic globalization, a number of Japanese companies have been making forays overseas. Under such circumstances, the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver is going to further enhance our support to the Japanese companies that have or are trying to have a business base in BC or Yukon, for which our consulate serves. The specifics of our support will be determined by listening to their opinions and discussing the details in order to cater to their needs.
What I can think of now considering the above are: providing business groups and respective companies an opportunity to have a discussion with representatives from the BC government and/or the Canadian Government; utilizing space in my official residence for business activities of respective Japanese companies; making use of the lobby area in our consulate for their PR purposes; and displaying products at our events such as the Emperor’s Birthday reception.
In any case, it is important that our consulate’s support has a sense of speed that fits with their business activities.
- Greater Promotion of Japan – Canada Cultural Exchanges
Since my arrival, I met a number of Japanese Canadians and there hasn’t been a day that I wasn’t impressed by their efforts in respecting and preserving Japanese culture. At one Japanese school’s event, from preschoolers to secondary school students, each student that has been learning the language presented a story of personal experiences of a variety of topics. Their efforts and dignified attitudes were truly moving. At UBC, where the Japanese Language Speech Contest was held, secondary and university students, with earnest eyes, gave respective speeches where once again I recognized a solid bond between the two countries. I also met scholars in Japanese studies and was impressed with their profound knowledge, for which I felt ashamed of my ignorance as a Japanese.
In order to promote exchange activities like these and to deepen ties between Canada and Japan even further, I would like to listen to opinions from many people and will reflect their input in our future activities.