Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Arctic Hall of the Embassy of Norway for what will be a very interesting seminar on “Modern Seafood Marketing” organized by the Norwegian Seafood Council.
Let me first say how very happy I am for Chairman Domstein and other members of the Board of the Seafood Council coming to Japan at this point in time to further promote the close cooperation Norwegians and Japanese enjoy in the fisheries and seafood sector. A sector, which is so important for both our economies, not least to people living along our long coasts depending on the sea and fish for their livelihood. And for all the people like me who prefer fish to meat.
These days, one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we continue to send our thoughts to those affected by the disaster, which took so many lives, caused so much human suffering and material destruction in Tohoku. At the same time, we are full of admiration for the brave way that the Japanese people are coping. We want to support in any way we can efforts for speedy recovery and reconstruction in Tohoku.
Norway’s Prime Minister announced a “Team Norway” support effort for recovery in the focus areas of fisheries and coastal development, seafood safety, renewable energy and environment technology. Our Government effort is one in close dialogue with Japanese authorities, central, regional and local, along with institutions and other Japanese stakeholders. These are key areas for reconstruction and economic development, where we already have strong ties that we want to make even stronger. Areas, where Norway has internationally recognized state-of-the-art technology and experiences to share.
As you might know, the Prime Minister of Norway was scheduled to pay an official visit to Japan starting on 15 March last year. Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs was to accompany him to help highlight the importance of the fisheries sector and its further potential in our bilateral relations. But that visit was not to be. It was postponed due to the natural catastrophe that struck Japan four days earlier. We hope that the Prime Minister’s visit can take place later this year.
The sympathy expressed by ordinary people in Norway in people-to-people contacts, donations and solidarity activities, as well as by companies and others remains heartfelt.
Against that backdrop, I am especially happy to that the Board of the Seafood Council visited the disaster-struck area, the fishing community of Ishinomaki, where they offered a generous donation to a seaweed farming cooperative. This donation in the recovery phase of the Tohoku disaster comes on top of an earlier donation by the Council in the immediate disaster relief phase last year channelled through the Red Cross.
I am looking forward to even stronger contacts in the years ahead between the Seafood Council and fisheries interests in Japan.
Let me wish your seminar this morning all success as you proceed to the sub-title of today’s seminar “How to stop the declining seafood consumption and win the protein “warfare”. After you have agreed on how to do that, let me invite you all to my Residence to enjoy some Norwegian seafood delicacies to celebrate the victory.