New Year Greetings from Consul-General
I wish all the readers of Hiroba
a Happy New Year.
This is my first time to welcome
in the New Year in Perth, having begun my term here in April last year.
In March last year, the Great East Japan
Earthquake struck Japan. Efforts to rebuild Japan are continuing, and
strong solidarity and warm support that we receive from the Western
Australian government and people, the Japanese community and Japan-related
organizations contribute greatly to these efforts. Such support includes
those charity events held by Friends of Japan in April, and ‘Nippon Cha Cha
Cha-Genki Japan’ in November, 2011. People from the Japanese Antarctic
research ship, JS Shirase, also participated in the latter of these two
In the same month of November, the
Consulate-General of Japan in Perth took part in a World of Food Festival,
organised by the Consular Corps of Western Australia, held in the gardens
of Government House. The Consulate staff served Japanese food and provided
cooking demonstrations as a way of expressing appreciation for the support
received from the Western Australian public following the Great East Japan
Western Australia and Japan have a history of
exchange that stretches back more than a hundred years. This relationship
continues to strengthen in all fields, including politics, economics and
culture. In March last year, Premier Colin Barnett made his second trip to
Japan since becoming Premier. In July, the former Prime Minister of Japan,
Yasuo Fukuda, came to Perth to chair the ‘Boao Forum’ and in November, a
Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Western Australia and
the Japan Bank for International Cooperation was signed to build a
comprehensive strategic partnership. I hope that these exchanges will
provide an impetus for future projects in Western Australia. Academic and
cultural exchanges have also been robust. In particular, last year marked
the 30th anniversaries of both the sister state relationship between
Western Australia and Hyogo Prefecture, and the sister city relationship
between the Shire of Broome and Taiji Town. I hope that such exchanges
based on sister-state and sister-city relationships, and the sharing of
Japanese culture through Japanese language education and other means, will
flourish in the future as well.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
invited Australian former prisoners of war from the Second World War to
Japan in November and December as part of its reconciliation efforts. One
West Australian was among those to go to Japan, where he visited places of
significance to the war and participated in various exchange programmes. I
am very pleased he was able to have these experiences.
I have visited various places in
Western Australia, including Broome, the Pilbara, Geraldton and Busselton.
In these places I felt the history of their exchanges with Japan, the
abundance of resources and nature, and the warmth of the people. Perth
successfully hosted CHOGM last October, and I feel its potential as an
international city will grow further and further. At the beginning of the
new year, I am committed to the continuous improvement of consular services
for Japanese people in Western Australia, and hope to further strengthen
the relationship between Japan and this state which boasts both a rich
history and future.
Kakizome – first calligraphy of the New
One of the customs which takes place in the New
Year in Japan is a practice called kakizome,
where people write a short message for the year ahead using a brush and ink.
The custom began in the imperial court and people would write poems while
sitting facing a certain direction, but nowadays people write shorter
messages containing a few auspicious characters or words.
Kakizome traditionally takes place on
January 2 but there are many gatherings across Japan at schools or public
venues on other days in early January. Some schools assign kakizome as homework over the
year-end break, and there is a large contest held in Tokyo on January 5
every year which attracts thousands of participants and is featured in the
media. There is also a festival known as Sagicho held in mid-January where kakizome are burnt, and it is said
that if the burning paper flies high into the sky then the writing skills
of the person who wrote it will improve.
The characters in this kakizome say shougatsu, which means ‘New