As we traced back our activities and events previously done In the history of the Society, though, the details of events change together with time. We would like to explain here about today’s situation. The activities done by the Society are based on two pillars in terms of basic way of thinking: 1) Having a sense of fulfillment among people joining the activities; 2) Doing socially meaningful actions. In other words, we aim at holding activities that people who joined the activities may find fun and satisfactory, and events in any form that are useful in the world.
How would we respond to a new era while giving importance to our 70 years of tradition is also a major challenge for us. Regarding that fact, described below are our recent activities.
(1) Our traditional social events include New Year parties and respective welcome and farewell parties for our country’s newly-appointed ambassadors to Australia and New Zealand, and ambassadors and their wives from both countries. We also hold events for welcoming persons from different industries in both countries on their visit to Japan time to time.
Australian and New Zealand ambassadors, on the other hand, are usually invited to join New Year parties which are held one after another at their residences. The Society merrily welcomes guests, mainly members, who have been friendly with us. Among the guests who came to Japan from both countries and were welcomed at welcoming parties, dinners and other events held by JANZ in the past 5 years were Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the Maori Queen of New Zealand and her entourage (May 1996); Rob Bobridge, the Premier of Queensland (May 1996); Richard Court, premiere of Western Australia (July of the same year); and other relevant personalities.
On the other hand, we also hold more informal social gatherings at times. Parties where guests enjoy wines from Australia and New Zealand, and events to enjoy the cool of the evening are common. Even casual gatherings where casual friendly conversations are done many times.
(2) Outdoor gatherings and exchanges include traditional golf tournaments that are usually held in spring and autumn. We also have held pleasure trips to the suburbs of Tokyo under the theme of “rediscovering Japan” by visiting historical towns and joining festivals. For example, the Sawara Grand Festival in autumn 1995, and the Kawagoe Festival in spring 1996 were popular among visitors from Australia and New Zealand as we received cooperation from the locals. Since 1997, we have incorporated a pleasure trip of picking mikan oranges on the first days of December to our usual activities, and this event is jointly held by the city government of Shizuoka and the Japan Australia New Zealand Society. In 1997, we got students from Japan and Australia in particular to join for friendly exchanges, though we would like to have an opportunity to do it again in the future.
(3) Exchange and gatherings continue to take place at Australian and New Zealand embassies around twice a year under cooperation with the Australian and New Zeland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan. Since 1995, we have been holding discussions with interesting themes which is settled as a dinner party and is hosted by lecturers who were invited by both countries. Mr. Shijuro Ogata’s discussions on world finance were favorably received by many. We regularly ask the Oceania chief at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for lecturers.
(4) In addition to gatherings and exchanges, we have requested for cooperation from the Embassy of New Zealand and various offices of state representatives in Australia to hold events to enjoy “the cool of the evening” in respective countries and states, as for providing opportunities to deepen understanding. Together with providing speeches and materials by various state representatives, we also had tasted their food and wine as much as possible.
(5) In the recent years, it is our field to exert effort to events and activities that aim to deepen understanding of affairs in Australia and New Zealand and their relationship with Japan, as well as various related matters and trends.
First, there are lecture meetings and “public lectures” that are regularly held in the first half of the year. At the lecture meetings held in October 1995 and May 1996, the lectures done by Ambassador Ashton Calvert of Australia and Ambassador Weavers of New Zealand and a leading scholar in Japan were well-received. The first “JANZ Public Lecture” titled “For People Who Wish To Know More About Australia” was held on April 1997. 3 to 4 lecturers were invited for each lecture and lectures were conducted six times by 1999. The second lecture was titled “Culture and Character” and the third was titled “Sea and Humans”. Both lectures were well-received. We primarily sent requests to Sophia University for the lecture venue. Other than this, we have been holding visa seminars having the theme of entering Australia and New Zealand and how things are in both countries since 1998.
(6) In addition, there are three things that we would like to take in the field of business activities.
1) 20th Anniversary of the Conclusion of Japan Australia Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation Symposium “Dawn on Asia-Pacific Community”.
(August 1996, Nara) This event is mainly sponsored by the United Nations University and the Australia-Japan Foundation, and we planned and conducted the event through full back up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Convening the event as chairman was former Ambassador of Japan to Australia Kazutoshi Hasegawa (former JANZ chairman), and thought-provoking discussions concerning the future were held by 13 eminent panelists from countries such as Japan, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and the United States.
2) The symposium “Think About Coexisting Resources Over The Pacific Ocean” (Tokyo, March 2000) with Australia’s resources as theme was about thinking of resources problem in our daily lives as we and the audiences tend to forget about it every day. In that symposium, we asked businessmen and economic scholars who are actually involved in resources development to deliver lectures and conduct debates.
The “A Day of Mine – Think About the Resources – Life in Australia” pamphlet compilation is a project for making the above symposium to come together as one, and it was created with the help of visual aids for students from the upper grades of elementary school to junior high school to open their eyes and develop interest towards problems on resources, and to know the connection between our lives and lives in Australia. Around 8,000 copies were primarily distributed to schools, and they were donated to Australian Embassy upon request.
3) The “Encounter with Australia” essay contest (November 1995 to June 1994) received 243 entries was held to describe and tell various encounters in Australia.
1 entry is composed of an essay with around 8,000 characters. The judges requested by JANZ selected 22 entries from 243 entries and the two best essayists were given a round trip flight ticket to Australia by courtesy of ANA. In addition, we have been in gratitude for the wide support from junior high school students to older generations, including their selected works. The 22 selected entries were published with the same name of the contest in February the following year by Simul.
(7) We have also conducted investigations and research under various themes related to Australia and New Zealand in commission or upon receiving grants. “Survey of Local Autonomies in New Zealand” (1997, Commissioned by Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly), “For the Preservation of Mangrove Ecosystems in the South Pacific Region” (Granted by Ion Foundation. 1997. This work proposes cooperation among Japan, the northernmost point, and Australia and New Zealand, southernmost points, of mangrove trees. It was conducted in cooperation with Action for Mangrove Reforestation.)
“Development of South Pacific Islands in the 21st Century” (A report of the relationship between Japan, Australia and New Zealand, the countries deeply involved with the South Pacific, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
(8) Cultural exchange is the field that we would like to tackle on if opportunity arises. What we have achieved so far are “Concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra” (September 1996, Gakushuin) and “Joint Concert with the Queensland Youth Orchestra” (January 1997, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre). Meanwhile, “Grand Sumo Tournament Australia Sponsorship” (June 1996) is also our achievement in fields of sports.
(9) Youth Exchange Promotion. As a general custom in this field, we have given support to the Japan-Australia Student Exchange Federation which is a cross-organization of several university students and has a sister relationship with JANZ.
In addition, we have been holding international goodwill youth soccer tournaments in cooperation with several Japanese-Australian and Japanese-New Zealand associations since 1998. The tournaments were primarily held in each local venue such as Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture in 1998; Ashburton, New Zealand in 1999; and Niihama, Aichi Prefecture in 2000.
Youth exchange is the field which we would like to put more effort into from this time on. From such thoughts, for example, even at the above-mentioned Queensland Youth Orchestra’s concert, we held a Japanese-Australian Youth New Year Party at the Yoyogi Youth Olympic Village.
(10) We value our partnership and cooperation with regional Japanese-Australian and Japanese-New Zealand societies in Japan, as well as Australian-Japanese and New Zealand-Japanese societies in Australia and New Zealand.
National convention of the Japan Australia Society is held in each region, though JANZ, along with other societies in the Kanto Region, organized and held national convention in Tokyo in 1994 and followed by November 2000 to welcome the 21st century amidst success brought by inviting various guests from all over the country and even from Australia. In 1998, JANZ held an event to celebrate its 70th anniversary mentioned in the history of the Society, and was participated by approximately 50 people from various societies. Meanwhile, we also, with people from other societies, attend and socialize at national conventions by the Australia-Japan Society in Australia that are held in odd-numbered years.
In New Zealand, we have been holding joint school performance and social gatherings with academic societies in New Zealand once a year since 2000. In this way, we would like to gradually expand our circle within and outside Japan.
(11) Information on activities can be found on JANZ’s official website. While aiming to become a source of diverse information related to Australia and New Zealand, we have finally got ourselves together.
(12) As for our emergency reconstruction support activities and fundraising activities for areas stricken by natural disasters, we have actively conducting disaster victim assistance programs by launching fundraising activities for the victims of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake that happened in February of that year, as well as for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11 of the same year in cooperation with the Embassy of Australia and Embassy of New Zealand. Among foreign leaders who made the earliest visit to disaster-stricken areas is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. In 2012 and 2013, we have sponsored a performance by the Southern Cross University in Australia as a charity concert for the Great East Japan Earthquake.