Event report: NJS GM 2014

The Norway Japan Society’s 2014 General Meeting was held on May 30.

The society was pleased to welcome almost 100 of our members and guests to our General Meeting and the following reception kindly hosted by the Ambassador of Norway to Japan, H.E. Ambassador Arne Walther.

This was also the Society’s farewell party with H.E. Ambassador Arne Walther returning to Norway later this year. We are grateful for the large number of guests which attended to give greetings to the ambassador who has supported the Society on numerous occasions the past five years.

There were two performances, one by NJS Chorus Group and the other by the renowned pianist Ms. Shuku Iwasaki accompanied by violinist Ms. Waka Takahashi. Ms. Iwasaki which performed last time for NJS at the 30th anniversary of the Society five years ago.

We would like to thank H.E. Ambassador Arne Walther for kindly hosting the society’s 35th General Meeting.

 

President’s Speech at the General Meeting of the Norway-Japan Society in 2014

Your Excellency Ambassador Walther, Excellencies, distinguished guests and dear members;Welcome to the 35th General Meeting of the Norway-Japan Society.

I thank you all for your presence this evening, in particular to Ambassador Walther for your attendance in spite of your busy schedule; and also for the presence of practically all the ex-ambassadors of Japan to Norway as well as to the leader of the Idemitsu Group, Mr. Shosuke Idemitsu and Mrs. Idemitsu for joining us this evening.

Dear friends, many things are happening outside in different parts of the world, some nice and some others not so nice. But between our two countries, we have been happy with relationship to be characterized as always steady, close and cooperative.

In that connection, I should like to join others, though a little belatedly, in congratulating our friends from Norway on the 200th anniversary of Norway’s Constitution of 1814. To those who want to know more on its importance, I would suggest to read the illuminating article which Ambassador Walther has contributed to the Japan Times on the day itself, May17 of this year.

Now, turning our attention to the 35th Anniversary of our Society itself, I should like to share with you a congratulatory cable I received from the President of our brother Society in Oslo which reads as follows.

“Since your foundation 35 years ago, you have promoted friendly relations, mutual understanding and cultural exchange to enrich our lives.

Today you are a vibrant and forward-looking Society. We in Norway wish to increase our cooperation with you and services to all of our members. We salute your achievement and congratulate you on your Annual General Meeting 2014.

The Japan Norway Society,  Bjorn O. Holta, President,  Oslo [May 22nd 2014].”

It ends with a short additional message which reads “Best wishes from all of us in Norway!  Bjorn O. Holta.”

I was very much touched by this warm gesture and recalled another message which had been sent to us on the occasion of the 30th anniversary. In that message the sender praised our activities in the first thirty years of our Society and wished next thirty years would also be nice and rewarding.

If I were to respond to this message now, I would say, I am very happy with what we have been doing in the first five years of the second thirty years of our Society. But why?

As our friend in Oslo referred to, our ARTICLES of ASSOCIATION stipulate three points as the aims of our Society. They are “to promote friendly relations, mutual understanding and cultural exchange” and I think there has been much development in these three areas. in our activity in the last five years.

In cultural exchange it was just before the 30th anniversary when our Singing Group started. It is continuing since then as a popular group with its members increasing and hopefully with its artistic level improving. Also we have had in two successive years fascinating visits to Idemitsu Museum that has special relations with Munch Museum in Oslo.

Then there is Suiyokai that started as an informal dining group meeting on Wednesdays where any of you members and your friends will be welcome to join. I attended its meetings and believe that it will serve very well to make friends and promote mutual understanding.

And hopefully there will be more to come making our second thirty years more interesting and fruitful, because, as you will agree with me, Norway is a very interesting country, interesting in the way people live and aim at, nature is beautiful and its arts are wonderful, skiing and outings most enjoyable. At the same time Japan must be an interesting country for Norwegians and we Japanese should appreciate those interests, and help them to make their life in Japan enjoyable.

So that is where we stand now. Altogether, the number of individual members has been increasing steadily. Also, we meet more and more young people and those who attend our events talk of the atmosphere as friendly, pleasant and enjoyable.

For all this, I thank the members of the Board, for their devoted contributions. They are mostly new on the Board who have taken the post after the 30th General Meeting.

And to those who have not been involved, I would say, “ I also hope some of you will one day join us as Board Members or come up with new idea or with new friends to join our Society because after all this is your Society which is always waiting for your initiatives.” And I mean it.

This is all for now. Thank you very much for your attention and please enjoy the rest of this evening.

(Masaki Seo, May30, 2014)

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