IJCC Regional Committee - Annual Report
Written by Ciaran Lawler, IJCC Member & IJCC Regional Committee Member
Aims of the Regional Committee
The IJCC Regional Committee was launched a year ago with the core objective of creating and enhancing connections between the IJCC and businesses in Japan’s regional areas. Additionally, the committee has sought to raise further bilateral consciousness between the two nations as a whole.
In order to accomplish these goals, we engage in a series of coordinated activities.
1. Fostering Existing Connections
We engage with companies and local governments in regional areas that have an existing connection with Ireland but may not be aware of the business and networking opportunities that the IJCC can further provide.
2. Creating New Connections
We reach out to business organisations such as rotary clubs, cooperatives and local chambers of commerce in order to have information about the IJCC distributed internally within each respective organisation to a wide variety of companies in regional areas. This enables us to create business connections and outreach for the IJCC.
3. Collaborating Actively with Members Based in Regional Areas
We hold regular online events to provide members based in regional areas chances to promote local businesses in their regions, as well as the ability to network with other chamber members. This tightens business connections between Ireland and Japan beyond physical distances.
4. Sharing Event Information
We share key details concerning upcoming events which present business opportunities with regional areas.
5. Mentorship Program Promotion
We promote the IJCC’s mentorship program to Japanese students, JET participants etc. in regional areas who are interested in studying or furthering their careers in Ireland.
With an active membership meeting on a monthly basis, the committee continues to proactively pursue its positive agenda of strengthening ties between Ireland and Japan.
Membership of the Regional Committee is open to all IJCC members, regardless of geographic location.
Tales from the Regions
Tales from the Regions, the IJCC’s flagship event, is an ongoing series of online explorations into the lives and activities of Irish people living across the length and breadth of Japan.
We have thus far conducted half a dozen presentations, focusing on everywhere from Iwate to Shimane, and there are more to come in 2022. We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped make this project a reality. The new year will bring further Tales, which we are all eagerly looking forward to.
This eagerly anticipated event began with opening remarks from the Ambassador of Ireland to Japan, Paul Kavanagh, who spoke enthusiastically about the strong ties between the two nations.
Andy O’ Doherty, IJCC director and general manager of IJCC corporate member H+K International, provided an informative presentation about Osaka’s industries, companies and the region's Irish connections. Tom O’Neill, owner of the city’s Blarney Stone Irish Pubs also joined the presentation and shared an introduction to the local Irish pub business, his personal experiences and the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.
Nara, a cultural treasure trove steeped in rich history, was the subject of this fascinating presentation.
Ms Shoko Tsuji, Director of Nara’s International Affairs Division, provided introductory remarks and expressed her wishes for further friendship between Ireland and Nara. After the remarks, Ms Katie Clancy, a Coordinator for International Relations at Nara Prefecture, gave us an informative presentation about her work at the Nara Prefecture Office, their intercultural activities, and the industries of Nara.
Vast in scale and majestic in scope, Iwate Prefecture has much to offer the international community. The focus of this talk was on the city of Kamaishi, famed for its status as a bastion of Japanese rugby and serving as a symbol of economic recovery following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Mr Tatsuya Nakamura, International Exchange Division Chief at the Kamaishi City Office, Ms Aisling Barry, Coordinator for International Relations at Kamaishi-city, Iwate, and Mr David Murphy, the First Secretary, Economic and Trade Affairs at The Embassy of Ireland held an informative discussion about Kamaishi city’s economic development and the region's Irish connections.
Shizuoka, and specifically Fukuroi City, kindly served as the base camp location for Ireland’s athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This provided an excellent opportunity to explore the region in more depth.
Mr Hideyuki Harada, the Mayor of Fukuroi City and Mr Paul Kavanagh, the Irish Ambassador to Japan, updated us on the growing relations between Ireland and Fukuroi. After their remarks, Ms Rachel Meehan, a Coordinator for International Relations at Fukuroi, gave us an informative presentation about the city’s industries and the region's links with Ireland.
Shimane’s prefectural capital of Matsue has a special connection to Ireland due to the acclaimed writer Lafcadio Hearn’s time spent living there during the Meiji Period. This connection was brought to the forefront throughout this busy event.
Ms Satomi Miyazako, Director of the International Tourism Division of Matsue, commenced proceedings with an overview of the city’s history and attractions. A message from Mayor Masataka Matsuura was subsequently delivered. Mr Anthony Kelly, a Coordinator for International Relations spoke in detail about the culture and industry of the city. Finally, IJCC Member Alan Fisher gave us an introduction to the new branch of his restaurant Kyojin Stewhouse that opened recently in Matsue.
Relaxed and idyllic, but with numerous thriving industries, Wakayama Prefecture is a major site of agricultural production, including some of the most delicious oranges and apricots you can imagine.
Proceedings began with remarks from Ms Chitose Kametani, Section Chief of the Tanabe Board of Education Lifelong Learning Division. Afterwards, Mr Paul Finn, a Coordinator for International Relations at Tanabe City gave us an informative presentation about Tanabe City and Wakayama Prefecture’s industries and the region's Irish connections, with some interesting videos about Wakayama’s unique characteristics.
IJCC Visit to Fukuroi
Fukuroi, a tranquil city situated in western Shizuoka Prefecture, graciously served as the location of Ireland’s base camp for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. On Wednesday 14th July, IJCC President Yoshihiro Tsuchiya and Operations Manager Emiko Myler visited the city in a unique opportunity to deepen this burgeoning relationship.
Mr Shigeru Tominaga of the Fukuroi Chamber of Commerce escorted the two to Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA; site of where the Irish athletes trained, Kitanomaru Hotel; which served as their accommodation, and concluded with a sightseeing trip to the historical temple complex of Kasuisai.
President Tsuchiya and Ms Myler went on to participate in a board meeting of Fukuroi’s Chamber of Commerce, where the IJCC was introduced to its members. It was here that the ambition for further cooperation between the IJCC and the FCC was articulated.
Following the meeting’s conclusion, the IJCC guests were guided to Fukuroi City Office. There they were welcomed by the freshly inaugurated mayor of the city, Mr Noriyuki Oba. The mayor expressed his desire that the bond between Ireland and Fukuroi would grow stronger for years to come in the wake of the Olympics.
As part of the IJCC’s ongoing effort to reach out to the Japanese business community, we are currently in the process of translating the most pertinent details from the chamber’s website from English into Japanese. This will enhance our ability to communicate our message with local communities in a simple and direct manner.
The Regional Committee has had a truly busy and memorable year. With monthly meetings and a plethora of online events, we have constantly been engaging with Japanese businesses and Irish communities across the regions. We have successfully raised the profile of Ireland across a diverse range of locations and connected with Irish citizens residing there through our Tales from the Regions events. In addition, our members have had the privilege of visiting Fukuroi and connecting with local authorities personally. With the ongoing translation of our website, we are aiming to reach out to an ever wider audience of Japanese professionals.
Our Resolution for the New Year
The committee is proud of its accomplishments over the course of its first year of operation, and aims to achieve ever greater success in 2022. With the hopeful resumption of in-person events next year, we are confident that we will continue to grow and thrive into the future. Above all, we will retain our steadfast commitment to ensuring the further development of positive relations between the IJCC and regional communities across the country.