Vol. 4, No. 2 (January 31, 2008)
The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.
by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
|Prime Minister Fukuda speaking at the World Economic Forum (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Public Relations Office)|
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited the Swiss Confederation on January 25 to attend the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of political and economic leaders and scholars from around the world. The Forum, also known as the Davos Meeting because it takes places in Davos, Switzerland, was held on January 26 this year. On that day, Prime Minister Fukuda gave a speech to open the session on "The Responsibility to Protect: Human Security and International Action," and also delivered a special address, in which he discussed the world economy, climate change, development and Africa. The following is Prime Minister Fukuda's address:
Release from the Cabinet
(January 18, 2008)
|(Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Public Relations Office)|
On January 18, Prime Minister Fukuda delivered a policy speech at the opening of the 169th Session of the Diet. (On the same day, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura also delivered his policy speech to the Diet, outlining Japan's diplomatic policy, including the Japan-U.S. alliance, Japan's relations with neighboring countries, the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).) Prime Minister Fukuda discussed five guiding principles for conducting affairs of state, including his vision for diplomacy that contributes to peace and development of the world. He also spoke about the Japan-U.S. security alliance, the fight against terrorism, environmental issues and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. The following is his speech:
the New York Consulate-General of Japan
From February 5 through 17, the Kennedy Center will host a program series entitled JAPAN! Culture + Hyperculture, showcasing Japan's theatre, dance, music, manga and literature, fine arts and architecture, and robots and modern technology. While the dates and times of the events during these two weeks can be found at their official website (http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/festivals/07-08/japan/), below is an introduction of the highlights of the festival:
(Embassy of Japan)
|The crowded New Year Celebration with the torii gate (Photo by Kenji Goto)|
The New Year's celebration in Japan continues well beyond the first day of the year, and various festivities may go on for almost the entire month of January. Following that tradition, on January 20, the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC) of the Embassy of Japan, the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. and the National Sushi Society held a large-scale Japanese New Year celebration for Washington-area residents. The second annual celebration at the Galleria in Lafayette Center, where JICC is located, attracted even more guests than last year. About 1,800 people, including Ambassador Kato and Washington luminaries such as former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, attended the event.
The four-hour event was filled with numerous activities. Guests had the choice of watching stage performances at the Galleria, from a New Year's lion dance to a koto concert and a chorus of traditional Japanese songs, or participating in traditional New Year's games such as spinning tops, Japanese badminton, or walking on bamboo stilts. They could also draw their fortune for the New Year, receive blessings from Shinto priestesses under a mini torii gate, or try their hand at calligraphy. Hungry children could then enjoy skewered sweet dumplings, cotton candy, rice cakes or traditional Japanese New Year's food, while their parents could peruse the used book section and have a bit of sweet sake. Those who wanted to leave the crowded Galleria could also enter JICC's exhibition hall to see the new indigo dye and noh mask exhibition and discuss the artwork with the artists themselves, or watch the film Three for the Road, the modern adaptation of a heartwarming comedy that the Japanese traditionally watch on New Year's.
The event helped families
in the Washington area kick off the new year with fun activities, and
entertained those who had never visited Japan as well as Japanese expatriates
who did not have the opportunity to go home for the holidays. After meetings
and preparations spanning more than half a year, it also provided a venue
for close to fifty Japan-related organizations and companies represented
in the nation's capital to collaborate for a grand celebration.
(Embassy of Japan)
|Students of Thomas Jefferson High School, some of them wearing kimono and yukata, engrossed in a game of hyakunin isshu|
On January 12, some of the students enrolled in Japanese class at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology celebrated the beginning of the year with traditional Japanese New Year festivities. On this Saturday afternoon, Samantha Keyser, one of the students and the President of the school's Japanese Language Honor Society, opened her home to her classmates for a small party. Many local volunteers came to assist with the celebration, representing various Japan-related organizations such as the Embassy of Japan, the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., and the Japanese Americans' Care Fund.
The Keysers' large home in Northern Virginia accommodated more than 40 people. The many rooms featured various activities such as calligraphy, toys and origami, a tea ceremony, and trying on kimono. The most popular section was the game room, which showcased matches of go and shogi. There was also an intense session of hyakunin isshu, a centuries-old card game where players match the first and second half of one hundred waka, or Japanese poems written in the rhythm of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. As the poems were read out loud, the high school students searched for and pounced on cards that featured the second half of the waka written on them.
After the game, the weary
students migrated to the kitchen and dining room, where various traditional
Japanese dishes awaited them. Osechi ryori, which is made only
for the New Year's celebration and includes many auspicious ingredients,
was served in black lacquered boxes. (Golden mashed sweet potatoes, for
example, signify monetary fortune in the coming year. Also included were
big shrimp with long antennae: the antennae resemble the busy beard of
an elderly man, and the shrimp are supposed to bring longevity.) Japanese
rice cake, another New Year staple, was featured with both soybean powder
and sweet red bean soup. Even okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese
pancake that is enjoyed all-year-round, was served. The students, the
volunteers and their family members all relished these foods and celebrated
the New Year's together.
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