Three years and two months have passed since my arrival in Vancouver as Consul General in January 2013, and now I am leaving Vancouver on March 23. During this time, with tremendous assistance from many people, I have completed my work as Consul General. I am most obliged for the support and cooperation shown to me.
At the time of my arrival, the number of Japanese people residing in our consular jurisdiction was approximately 29,500 and in three years, it has increased to 33,000. This is an indication that Japan’s relations with BC and Yukon have become much closer because of the advancement in economic relations, activation of personal exchanges including studying abroad, and also the increased number of flights between Japan and Vancouver.
For the promotion of those exchanges, our consulate organized a variety of events. In implementing cultural events, many people from the community helped us receive invited cultural figures from Japan, assisted us with performances, and even co-stared with visiting performers. As well, as a saxophone player, I joined many of them on the stage, and I have many fond memories of that.
Two years ago, when we commemorated the 125th anniversary of the establishment of our consulate, I hosted a series of forums together with people from Japanese Canadians communities. The series, titled “Parallel Paths – Japanese Diplomacy and Nikkei Heritage” was held throughout the year, and I learned a great deal.
I learned that the excellent relationship we have today between Canada and Japan was founded on the history of tremendous efforts and the hardships that Japanese immigrants endured since their immigration started in the latter half of the 19th century. And I strongly felt that we, in the present time, should never forget the history of those forerunners. Through the forums, I deepened my friendship with Japanese Canadians and shared the recognition of that history with them. These experiences are a valuable asset to me. Now I strongly feel that I should pass the history of Japanese Canadians to a lot of Japanese people on my return to Japan.
Since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, ensuring a stable supply of energy posed a serious challenge to Japan’s economic development. Natural gas exportation from British Columbia to Japan is a part of the important energy issue. In order to realize that, together with Japanese businesses people, I have been proactively approaching the Government of British Columbia and the federal government for the past three years. The exportation of natural gas hasn’t been realized yet due to numerous unsolved issues, such as the stagnation of international energy markets, delays in government environmental assessments, and negotiations with First Nations. I hope that these issues will be resolved in the near future and that the exportation to Japan to will soon start.
Before my departure from Vancouver, I received farewell wishes from many people. I thank you again for the support you have shown to me. I will continue to value friendship with the people in Canada through exchange activities even after my departure.
March 23, 2016
Consul General of Japan in Vancouver
Consul General Okada's Web Message
March 30, 2016