Passing the Torch into the Future: Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Canada-Japan Diplomatic Relations

On March 6, The Embassy of Japan and Global Affairs Canada hosted a reception to celebrate the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan, and to highlight the closeness of our ties through sport. More specifically, the event aimed to build momentum for the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games which will take place in Japan. The promotion of these exciting sport competitions was possible thanks to the support of Rugby Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

 

The opening ceremony began with remarks by Dr. Donald Bobiash, Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific at Global Affairs Canada, and Ms. Vicki Walker, Director General of Sport Canada at Canadian Heritage. In his remarks that followed, the Ambassador of Japan to Canada, His Excellency Kimihiro Ishikane, highlighted the passing of the torch between Japan and Canada during the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Reflecting the evening's emphasis upon sports, especially as Japan prepares to host Canadian athletes for the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, he also spoke to the importance of the two countries relationship that is both reflected in, and further built, through sport.

 

To draw attention to the upcoming Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, for which Canada qualified, Canada Rugby legend, Mr. Al Charron, delivered remarks during which he highlighted exciting collaborations and friendly competition between Japan and Canada in rugby. Another upcoming international sporting competition which will take place in Japan is the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To build momentum, Mr. David Shoemaker, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Mr. Marc-André Fabien, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, spoke about the impressive work Japan has been doing to welcome athletes from across the world.

 

This year, Canada is also commemorating Vancouver’s storied Asahi baseball team. Ms. Melisa Kamibayashi-Staples, President of the Ottawa Japanese Community Association, told the history of this baseball team, composed of Japanese Canadians players. The team was extremely successful in the early 20th century, until it was disbanded during World War II as its players, along with 22,000 Japanese Canadians, were sent to internment camps. Ms. Kamibayashi-Staples announced that Canada Post will release a stamp commemorating the Vancouver Asahi in April 2019. Her remarks was followed by a screening of the Heritage Minute “Vancouver Asahi.” 

 

Guests were also treated to a video message from the Governor of the Gifu Prefecture, Mr. Hajime Furuta, which he recorded for the occasion. Gifu Prefecture will host Canadian athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Speaking in Canada’s two official languages, Governor Furuta spoke of how excited the Prefecture of Gifu is to welcome Canadian athletes and tourists for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

 

To conclude the ceremony, Ambassador Ishikane recognized a local dojo, the Takahashi Dojo, for the important contribution it has made to strengthening Japan-Canada relations during its 50 years of existence. The Takahashi dojo has promoted Japanese culture to Canadians through the teaching of Japanese martial arts and has trained several Olympians in judo. The Ambassador’s Award, awarded to the Takahashi Dojo, was accepted by Ms. June Takahashi, co-founder of the dojo, and her son Mr. Allyn Takahashi. The ceremony closed with an energetic judo demonstration performed by members of the Takahashi Dojo, including young children.

 

After the opening ceremony, a reception was held to introduce guests to the Japanese cuisine and culture. Guests also had the opportunity to learn more about the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Panels about these two events, as well as promotional videos allowed the guests to learn more about the host prefectures and the host cities and town for the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. Touristic videos of Japan screened during the reception allowed guests to appreciate the beauty of Japan and the richness of the Japanese culture.

 

Remarks by the Ambassador of Japan to Canada, His Excellency Kimihiro Ishikane

Remarks by Dr. Donald Bobiash, Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific at Global Affairs Canada
 
Remarks by Ms. Vicki Walker, Director General of Sport Canada at Canadian Heritage
 
Remarks by Canada Rugby Legend, Mr. Al Charron

 
  ©Sam Garcia
Remarks by Mr. David Shoemaker, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee

 
Remarks by Marc-André Fabien, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee

 
©Sam Garcia  

Ms. Melisa Kamibayashi-Staples, President of the Ottawa Japanese Community Association, introduces the Heritage Minute featuring
the Vancouver Asahi 

 

Screening of the Heritage Minute “Vancouver Asahi”


 
Video message by the Governor of the Prefecture of Gifu, Mr. Hajime Furuta
 
Ambassador Ishikane awards the Ambassador’s Award to the Takahashi Dojo
 
                                                           ©Sam Garcia
From left to right: Dr. Bobiash, Mr. Shoemaker, Ambassador Ishikane, Mr. Fabien, Ms. Walker, Mr. Charron