Vol.11 June 2008
- African Development Conference in Yokohama
- Japan Day @ Central Park 2008
- PA Governor Rendell met CEOs of Japanese companies
- Japan Info X-tra -Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Awarded
- Japanese and Japanese American Artists’ Art Exhibition in New York
- Visit and Enjoy Wakayama
- Culture Connection - 1000 Years of the Tale of Genji
- From the Ambassador's Desk
- Film Forum Celebrates Fifty Years of Actor Tatsuya Nakadai
- Event Calendar
The Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) convened in Yokohama from the 28th to 30th of May, marking the fifteenth anniversary of the TICAD process. This summit-level conference brought together representatives from 51 African countries, 74 international and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society organizations, notable individuals, as well as 34 partner countries, including the G8 and Asian countries.
In the opening session, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda delivered a keynote address in which he stressed Japan’s resolve to work together with African countries and the international community towards a “vibrant Africa.” He announced Japan’s intention to double its ODA to Africa by 2012. According to Fukuda, Japan will offer up to US$4 billion of ODA loans to assist Africa in infrastructure developments, and Japan will double its grant and technical cooperation for Africa over the next five years. He also pledged to extend financial support of US$ 2.5 billion, including the establishment of the Japan Bank International Cooperation Facility for African Investment, and other measures to encourage private Japanese investment in Africa. Chairperson of the African Union Jakaya Kikwete (President of Tanzania) gave a keynote speech and expressed his appreciation for Japan’s commitment to assistance for the continent.
Discussions at the conference centered on three main themes: boosting economic growth; ensuring “human security”, including the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the consolidation of peace and good governance; and addressing environmental issues and climate change. Emphasizing the critical relevance of these issues, African leaders and their international partners shared ideas on how to enhance and accelerate African development. The conference adopted the “Yokohama Declaration” which summarized the outcome of the TICAD process and confirmed the continuing political commitment of Japan and other partners to African development. Most importantly, the conference introduced a “Yokohama Action Plan” for the next five years and a “TICAD Follow-up Mechanism” for monitoring and assessment. Japan will present the results of TICAD IV to the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit to be held in July.
The TICAD process was launched by Japan in 1993 as forum for high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners. A central philosophy is that African “ownership” of its development must be respected while developing the partnership between Africa and various stakeholders. Japan, as a country making strong contributions to this process, had been making intensive preparations for the Yokohama conference since the end of TICAD III in 2003.
For a related story about the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, please see Japan Info X-tra.
On Sunday June 1, the center of Manhattan was transformed for the second time into a Japanese summer celebration. On a day blessed with wonderful weather, Japan Day @ Central Park 2008 featured the Japan Run and a Japan Day Festival, which attracted 40,000 people.
The festival was organized by the Japan Day 2008 Committee with two main goals: To give New Yorkers the chance to gather in the park in order to get in touch with the traditions and contemporary culture of Japan. And also to give the entire Japanese community living and working in New York the chance to strengthen ties and to express a message of thanks to the great city it calls home.
The Japan Run, a four-mile mini-marathon, directed by the New York Road Runners, started at 8:00am just after a Japanese ritual lion dance was performed. Among the 3,000 participants was Reiko Tosa, Japan’s entry into the upcoming Beijing Olympics Women Marathon. She presented awards to the top runners after the race. Just like last year, there was also a Kids Run for children between 2 and 12 years of age.
The Japan Day Festival was held at the East Meadow in Central Park. It began at 10:00 am with welcoming remarks from Mr. Michihisa Shinagawa, Chairman of the Japan Day Committee. CNN anchor Sandra Endo was the host as visitors enjoyed live stage performances, featuring traditional and Cool Japan. The traditional Japan segment included Taiko (Japanese drum), Yosakoi Dance, Karate, Samurai sword demonstrations and a festive Omikoshi (portable shrine) Parade. To demonstrate Cool Japan, Japanese singer Shota Shimizu, internationally acclaimed Japanese Pop singing duo HALCALI, award-winning hip-hop dancer Kenichi Ebina and other artists fascinated the audience with their performances. Japanese food and activity tents were available for visitors to sample Japanese cuisine, try origami, calligraphy, traditional and modern games and toys, as well as learn about eco-education, and view an advanced humanoid robot. (For more information please visit www.japandaynyc.org)
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proclaimed June 1st, 2008 as “Japan Day”, calling this event “a terrific opportunity for all New Yorkers to learn more about the rich and historic culture of their Japanese neighbors” and stating that ever since the end of 19th century “the outstanding economic, social, and cultural contributions of Japanese Americans have played an invaluable role in the success of our great city”. On behalf of the city, Commissioner Adrian Benepe, of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, joined the festival and gave congratulatory remarks on stage.
As a way of showing appreciation to New York City, the Japan Day Committee decided to accept donations in return for original Japan Day T-shirts. The donations were then given to The New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a non-profit organization founded in 1995 by Ms. Bette Midler to reclaim and restore neglected, under-resourced parks, community gardens and open spaces throughout New York City. The donation will go to the Cherry Tree Project, which endeavors to plant cherry trees along the Harlem River.
On June 3rd, Ambassador Motoatsu Sakurai invited Governor Edward G. Rendell, Honorary Consul General Dennis J. Morikawa and other senior officials from Pennsylvania, along with top executives from leading Japanese-owned corporations headquartered in New York and the Mid-Atlantic regions, to a dinner meeting at the Ambassador’s official residence. This event was intended to further develop relations between the Keystone State and the Japanese business community.
It was a third effort of this kind to give state governors in our Consulate’s jurisdiction and top executives of Japanese corporations an opportunity to speak directly to each other. The first event, in February 2007, featured Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey, and the second one, in September 2007, featured Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
This special occasion in June was made possible in part because Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Mikio Numata, attended a reception hosted by Governor Rendell last April in Harrisburg, PA, where Mr. Numata talked directly with Governor Rendell and his Chief of Staff about the possibility of this kind of meeting.
In his speech, Ambassador Sakurai reminded the attendees of Governor Rendell’s impressive record as Mayor of Philadelphia, where he led ‘the most stunning turnaround in recent urban history’ (New York Times), and his achievements as Governor of Pennsylvania, which have made him one of America’s most respected governors. As a former head of a major Japanese company, Ambassador Sakurai suggested that Japanese businesses need time to commit to overseas investment, but that their meeting could be helpful in strengthening mutually beneficial economic ties between Pennsylvania and Japan.
Governor Rendell said that although international trade is often victimized when the economy is slowing, about 400,000 Pennsylvanians work for non-U.S. companies, and that such jobs are often some of the best-paying jobs in the state. He also mentioned that he and other participating officials, including Secretary McGinty of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, are reaching out to international companies, such as firms in the alternative energy sector, by utilizing incentives that are ‘second to none’. He also explained that Pennsylvania has the largest number of colleges per capita of any state.
Mr. Yoshiaki Kawamata, Executive Vice President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, Inc., and Senior Managing Executive Officer & CEO for the Americas of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd, made a toast. This was followed by the dinner, in which he and eighteen other top executives from Japanese companies and JETRO were assigned to one of five groups. Each group rotated from table to table, so that everyone had an opportunity to talk with Governor Rendell, Honorary Consul General Morikawa and other officials from Pennsylvania.
The guests discussed a variety of business issues, such as alternative energy investment, the so-called Wall Street West proposal (which intends to build back-office facilities in Northeast Pennsylvania linked by high-speed fiber optic network to the Manhattan financial center), construction of distribution centers, and M&A activities.
The Consulate will follow up on the issues discussed, and it hopes to host similar meetings with other governors in our jurisdiction in order to encourage even more activity by Japanese businesses in this region.
Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Awarded
On May 28th, the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize was awarded at an inaugural Award ceremony held in Yokohama as part of the TICAD IV conference. (For more about TICAD IV see “Headline.”)
The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize was conceived in 2006. After then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s official visit to Africa in April and May of that year, the Government of Japan established this international prize, named after the groundbreaking Japanese medical researcher, to honor individuals with outstanding achievements combating infectious diseases and establishing innovative medical care in Africa. The Rockefeller Foundation contributed$50,000 to the prize.
The Noguchi Prize’s inaugural laureates were Dr. Brian Greenwood from the United Kingdom and Professor Miriam K. Were of Kenya. Dr. Greenwood was recognized for his 30 years of efforts combating diseases like malaria on the continent. Prof. Were’s efforts have provided African women and children basic medical services and health care for more than 40 years. (Detailed information on both laureates can be found at: http://www.cao.go.jp/noguchisho/index-e.html.) They were chosen by a prize selection committee whose membership included Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel laureate and the President of Rockefeller University. The award ceremony was attended by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan, heads of African countries and other distinguished guests, including Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary General of the UN and Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez of the Rockefeller Foundation. At the ceremony, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda awarded a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen (approx. 1 million US dollars) to each prize winner.
2008 is the 80th anniversary of the death of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, the prize’s namesake. Noguchi was a distinguished and widely respected Japanese physician who dedicated his life to intensive research in bacteriology. He joined New York’s Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in 1904 and was a major contributor to the institution’s world renowned reputation in the field of bacteriology. His travels to Latin America and Africa were supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Noguchi died in Ghana in 1928, succumbing to yellow fever, the disease for which he was seeking a cure. Noguchi’s wife Mary was an American; when he died in 1928 he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
This year’s inauguration of the Noguchi Prize is also timely because July ushers in the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in Japan that marks the midterm of the UN Millennium Development Goals. One of this Summit’s highest agenda items will be tackling global health issues, including battling infectious diseases and strengthening healthcare systems. The Government of Japan is committed to pursuing direct measures to meet these challenges.
- Related links:
- Cabinet Office of Japan; http://www.cao.go.jp/noguchisho/index-e.html
- Rockefeller Foundation; http://www.rockfound.org/about_us/news/2006/072506noguchi.shtml
- Rockefeller University; http://newswire.rockefeller.edu/?page=engine&id=736
Japanese and Japanese American Artists’ Art Exhibition in New York
From May 8th to the 16th, the Japanese American Association (JAA) held its 13th Annual Art Exhibition for Japanese American artists who are active in the New York area. The event was held for charitable purposes in the Japanese community. Various Japanese organizations, including the Consulate General of Japan in NY, supported the exhibition.
JAA provided visitors with the precious opportunity to enjoy the best Japanese and Japanese American artists and their work gathered together in one place. During the opening reception on May 8, the artists and guests were surrounded by large pieces created to celebrate JAA’s centennial year.
The JAA Hall displayed the fine art of 30 different artists, including Pokemon Bicycle by Ushio Shinohara and Water Fall by Hiroshi Senju.
Visit and Enjoy Wakayama
Wakayama city, the capital of Wakayama Prefecture, is just 40 minutes away from Kansai International Airport. Within 90 minutes of major metropolitan centers such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, Wakayama can be reached so that visitors are able to fully relax and take in nature. Located in the northwestern corner of the Kii Peninsula at the mouth of the Kinokawa River, the city is blessed with luscious greenery and a comfortably warm climate because of the Kuroshio Current. Wakayama City also gives tourists many opportunities to enjoy the poetry-inspiring scenery, as well as the chance to explore historically famous places from the Tokugawa-era. Wakayama is also known as the gateway to Koya and Kumano, two registered world heritage sites.
Wakayama City’s symbol is Wakayama Castle. This year, the city is organizing a half-year festival called “Shiro Festa” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reconstruction of the castle. Entertaining events will take place on almost every weekend from May 18th until November 23rd.
The opening event will be Waka-Matsuri, which will be followed by other events like the Wakayama Castle Shogi Festival, Kishu-Odori “Burandara-bushi,” the 4th Annual Yosakoi Festival Taketoya, and the Wakayama ’08 Food Festival. Some of these are traditional festivals whose origins can be traced back more than 400 years; the others are modern day creations. Both types of festivals bring the city to life with a wide variety of interest. They can be enjoyed by men and women, adults and children.
During the Edo period, the castle town was known as Kishu-han, part of Lord Tokugawa Gosanke’s domain. The word Kishu is still often used to this day as the well-known name of this region. A 360-degree overlook of the city, which opened at the top of the main tower of Wakayama Castle, gives visitors chance to feel a long history of this region and imagine how wealthy it has continued to be since the Tokugawa era. The city has many national treasures, the foremost of which is Kimiidera, a temple which was built over 1,200 years ago.
Along the Wakayama coast there are many breathtaking spots. Some are recorded in Manyo-shu, a famous collection of Japan’s oldest poetry. Today, this coastal area is known as a paradise for marine sports lovers. Many people come to this area to enjoy sailing, surfing, and sea kayaking. There are plans of introducing a national training center facility for competitive sailing.
After a long day of sightseeing or participating in marine sports, visitors can conveniently revitalize themselves because hot springs and spas are in abundance throughout the City.
Cherry blossoms can be enjoyed in spring, seaside leisure activities are popular in summer, hiking can be done amid the beautifully colored trees in autumn and hot springs are available in winter. Each season has its own special appeal. Blessed with beautiful seashores, a bountiful sea and delicious food, Wakayama always has something to offer to everyone.
1000 Years of the Tale of Genji
2008 is the millennium anniversary of the Tale of Genji, the masterwork of Japanese literature, considered by many to be one of the world’s first novels. The tale was born in the early 11th century, during the Heian era, a period of thriving Japanese court life. Its author is Murasaki Shikibu (called by this name after a heroin in the work, Murasakinoue). Her diary contains the first reference to the existence of the Tale in the year 1008.
The Tale of Genji has fifty-four chapters. The majority describe how its hero Hikaru Genji (“Shining” Genji) lived a life of glory and later died in melancholy. The life of another hero, Lord Kaoru, is described in the last thirteen chapters.
Genji is a prince born of the Emperor and Kiritsubo, a beautiful lady who, though not of the first rank, is ardently loved by the Emperor, but dies young. As an attractive man gifted with phenomenal intelligence and grace, Genji is the object of people’s attention, and he falls in love with a host of court ladies. Among them is Empress Fujitsubo, who resembles Kiritsubo. Fujitsubo bears Genji’s child, the future Emperor Reizei, who knows the secret of his birth but does not reveal it. After a scandal with a daughter of his political enemy, Genji temporarily leaves the capital and goes into self-imposed exile. He soon returns, however, strengthens his political position, and achieves glory by being appointed “honorary retired Emperor.” From his lover during his period of exile a daughter is born, who becomes Empress. At the peak of his glory, however, he marries a noble but immature lady (Onna Sannnomiya), who is seduced by Kashiwagi and bears a child (Kaoru). After the death of Murasakinoue, a graceful lady who doesn’t have a child with Genji but who constantly showed touching devotion to him, Genji becomes melancholic, decides to become a priest and quietly passes away.
Kaoru is brought up as Genji’s son but is unaware of his true lineage. Being indifferent to worldly success, he repeatedly visits prince Hachinomiya, who is devoting himself to the study of Buddhism. During these visits, Kaoru hears the secret of his birth at last and falls in love with Hachinomiya’s daughter Oigimi, who eventually rejects him. After an unwilling marriage, Kaoru begins to love Ukifune, a lady similar to Oigimi. But Ukifune unknowingly shares a bed with Kaoru’s friend and rival prince Niou (Genji’s grandson) who disguises himself as Kaoru. Upset by this love triangle, Ukifune tries to drown herself. Although she is saved, she continues to reject Kaoru. (The story ends here suddenly.)
The Tale caused a great sensation after it appeared. A famous literary work of that period, Sarashina Diary, has a lively description of how its author (Sugawara no Takasue no musume) hoped to read it. In the 12th century the best Japanese artists created the Tale of Genji Picture Scrolls, now officially a Japanese national treasure. A famous literary scholar of the Edo period Norinaga Motoori (1730〜1801) invented a well-known term “mono-no-aware” (sensitivity to things) to express the important, traditional sense of beauty which permeates the Tale.
The Tale of Genji is a long and complex story. It cannot be read in a few of days, but it doesn’t take a thousand years, either! This year’s millennium anniversary is a perfect chance for readers to embark on a journey through this masterpiece of Japanese - and world -- literature. Translations in modern Japanese and English are widely available.
First, let me express my sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed to the success of Japan Day＠Central Park on June 1st. It was a wonderful event.
On the other side of the Pacific, preparations are intensively underway for the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit of June 7 - 9, where world leaders will discuss important issues like the global economy, the environment, and the development of Africa.
The G8 Summit is extraordinarily important in light of today’s 21st century challenges, many of which can only be met through close international cooperation. Today, when the conversion of food for energy use is spurring a global food crisis, soaring oil prices are a heavy burden on the world economy, and concerted measures against climate change are of the greatest importance, this summit will be a significant opportunity for the world community to come together to tackle these issues.
With this in mind, I am glad that Japan recently hosted another major international gathering, the TICAD IV conference on African development (see Headline). As a region, Africa is extremely vulnerable to global difficulties, and it is important that the world community listen to the voice of Africa and discuss how to ensure Africa’s development.
In the beginning of June, immediately after TICAD IV, Prime Minister Fukuda visited Germany, Great Britain and Italy and engaged in bilateral summit talks with the leaders of these countries. While in Rome, he also attended the FAO’s High-Level Conference on World Food Security to announce that Japan will disburse an emergency food aid package of $100 million and distribute an additional $50 million in assistance to impoverished farmers to boost food production. He also strongly stressed the necessity for international cooperation regarding food issues.
Finally, in May the world saw several shocking disasters: countless people were killed or wounded by the devastating cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in Sichuan, China. Japan has offered its deepest condolences and is actively engaged in implementing urgently needed aid to both countries.
Not many actors can boast having worked in film for 50 years. The ones that have are legends of the screen and Tatsuya Nakadai is no different. In Japan, his storied career has seen him work with legendary directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Kon Ichikawa, and Kihachi Okamoto, among others, to achieve national and international fame. Paying homage to his immense filmography, Film Forum, in association with the Japan Foundation, presents “Nakadai,” a retrospective of Tatsuya Nakadai’s work running from June 20-July 17, 2008. During these four weeks, 24 films from throughout his career will be shown, with Mr. Nakadai making a special appearance on Friday, June 20 at a Q & A after a screening of Kobayashi’s Harakiri, and on June 24 at an “Evening with Tatsuya Nakadai.” The film festival will then conclude with a three-week run of Mr. Nakadai’s three film epic, The Human Condition, running from July 18-August 7.
With an incredible career in film from 1953 to 2006, Mr. Nakadai has been in almost one film per year and as many as eight films in one year (1957). With an acting range comparable to Marlon Brando, this retrospective will highlight Mr. Nakadai’s finest performances in his most important films including all five films he starred or costarred in for Akira Kurosawa (Yojimbo, igh and Low, Ran, Kagemusha and Sanjuro); Kihachi Okamoto’s Sword of Doom; Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Face of Another; and of course, his long term working relationship with Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, Kwaidan, and The Human Condition).
A cultural icon in Japan, Tatsuya Nakadai got his start with a small part in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and went on to star in several more of his films, playing the antagonist to acting legend Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo and strengthening his position as a leading-man. His acclaimed performances in these films led him to work with Japan’s best filmmakers and which resulted in legendary performances. In Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri, Mr. Nakadai breathes extremely believable life into his character as a disgraced ronin. In Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low, he is a cool detective, while in Kihachi Okamoto’s Sword of Doom, he plays a psychotic samurai who kills for no reason. In 2007, Tatsuya Nakadai was recognized for his vast body of work by the Japanese government and was named Bunka Korosha (a person of distinguished service) to Japanese culture. He has also won five “Best Actor” Awards throughout his career for his films, which have no doubt been an inspiration to many actors throughout the world today.
In addition to the film festival is a separate run of Masaki Kobayashi’s 10-hour epic trilogy, The Human Condition (1959-1961), featuring Nakadai’s groundbreaking performance. He portrays Kaji, a socialist and pacifist trying to survive in the oppressive era of World War II Japan. The trilogy is highly regarded as one of the top films in cinema history and will run from July 18 - August 7.
Other related events include a book signing by Tatsuya Nakadai at the Kinokuniya Bookstore at Bryant Park on June 21. Also, this year marks the 10th anniversary of famed director Akira Kurosawa’s death, and to celebrate his life and amazing catalogue of films, Film Forum will also present a tribute to Ms. Teruyo Nogami, the script advisor and principal assistant to the acclaimed director for a half century (1950-1993). With events taking place both in New York and Washington D.C., this film festival may be one of the few times that you can catch Tatsuya Nakadai’s vast catalogue of work as an actor, and films by some of the greatest Japanese directors in the history of cinema.
- Nakadai: A Retrospective of Legendary Japanese Star Tatsuya Nakadai
- June 20-July 17, 2008
- Film Forum
- 209 W. Houston St. New York, NY 10014
- Info: 212-727-8110 or www.filmforum.org