Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA
We have just finished a regional meeting here in Tokyo with all the Swedish ambassadors and consuls-general in Asia participating. We had several days of interesting discussions about security policy issues, domestic political developments in the countries where we are stationed, economic developments, trade and investments, promotion, cultural events, preparedness for catastrophes and many other subjects. We also spent one day in Tohoku (Iitate and Sendai), where we could listen to the officials on how they are trying to solve the problems still remaining in that region.
Having a regional meeting of this kind gives us an opportunity to get a number of issues out on the table and although we already have several ways of communicating, nothing beats face-to-face discussions. But, we also had online discussions with our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Bildt, through a video-link. This was also very useful. His blog is well worth following if you wish to know more about Swedish foreign policy and what our government thinks about world developments. He writes his blog in Swedish but he is also active on twitter, where he writes in English (@carlbildt).
All Swedish embassies can now be found on twitter and on top of that I have just started my own (@VargoLars). I will probably write mostly in Japanese, but of course also retwitter articles in English and Swedish and what others write of interest.
Tokyo is now full of cherry blossoms. It is extremely beautiful and pleasant. However, I sometimes wonder where the real beauty lies, in their brief splendor on the branches or when they fall after a few days, without having withered? Their lives are brief, like ours, but it seems they cannot wait to make the final journey. This existential question seems to be an important part of Japanese culture, but it is also often found in Swedish culture as well. The poet Stig Dagerman (1923-54) once wrote (in my own free translation): “To die is to travel a bit, from the branch to the solid ground”. During the short sakura season some people are already sitting on the solid ground under the branches, drinking cup after cup of sake. Some of them seem apt to climb up again, or are they just thinking of Arakida Moritake’s (1473-1549) famous poem about the butterfly he briefly thought was a flower petal returning to the branch?