Science and Technology Diplomatic Circle and EU Science and Technology Delegation
Tokyo, 6 December 2011, Royal Norwegian Embassy
Dear Science and Technology Diplomats
Special Guest Professor Anzai
Ladies and Gentlemen
That should include everyone. If anyone feels left out, please raise your hand. Because it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this year’s Science and Technology “Bonenkai”, which we are happy to host in the “Arctic Hall” of our Embassy this evening.
A true Japanese “bonenkai” is a party that takes place at the end of the year among colleagues and friends to forget the woes and troubles of the past year, sometimes best done by drinking huge amounts of alcohol. But this year’s disasters have been of a different magnitude from business as usual.
Both in Japan and Norway, the year we soon will leave behind - 2011 - will be remembered as a year of national sorrow. In Japan, the forces of nature unleashed on 11 March caused unprecedented loss of lives, much suffering and material destruction. In Norway, the evil acts of a human-being killed innocent youth and assaulted our government offices. These terrible events will not be forgotten at Year’s end. We will carry our sorrow with us into the New Year and beyond. The woes and troubles that normally are on a “bonenkai” agenda and that can easily be forgotten, are dwarfed by this year’s national sorrow.
Some people believe that “diplomats” are untrustworthy people sent abroad to lie for their country. And that diplomats have a jolly good time doing just that at cocktail parties and at any other opportunity, while enjoying enviable privileges of every kind. Personally, I have myself never met anyone who would fit that description. Perhaps you have?
As an ordinary diplomat I would say that science and technology are quite necessary for human progress. I would even say that you Science and Technology Diplomats are, in fact, in the “truth-business”, always looking for, and once in a while even finding, new scientific truths to help the human race along in its evolution to wherever we are going and to whatever we will ultimately be. You science and technology diplomats are a human species with an important role to play, integrated as you are with Embassies, to promote cross-border cooperation - especially important here in Japan, a forefront country with a key to our future on this planet.
For Norway, science and technology are main pillars of our relations under the framework of a bilateral agreement and a commission. Focus areas are energy, environment, seafood safety, nano-technology, space and polar research. We attach great importance to fruitful clusters that have been formed, especially the Kyoto International Forum for Energy and Environment. This cooperation was celebrated when our Minister for Science and Technology visited Japan earlier this year.
With these words, let me again welcome you to “bonenkai” in the Arctic Hall of our Embassy. We are looking forward to the key-note address by our distinguished guest speaker Professor Anzai and to mingling, eating and drinking afterwards – and I dare say - in the very best diplomatic tradition. I can see by the professional way you are holding your champagne glasses, that this is something you are not doing for the first time.