Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA
Lately my schedule have been full of activities of the kind that makes this job so interesting:
Last Saturday I went to Kobe to give a public speech about ‘Sweden and Japan’ for and audience consisting of some 70 participants. It was organized by the Sweden-Japan Friendship Society of Kobe. At occassions like this questions and comments always arise concerning the differences and similarities between Swedes and Japanese. My opinion is that we are rather similar, not least when it comes to decision making and concensus building. Perhaps it is not always for the better, but it certainly makes it easier for us to work together, in organizations and private enterprises. We are both a bit on the shy side, but we are very attentive to what is the unspoken in conversations and meetings. Sometimes this makes our expressions vague, but we get the messages through somehow.
Just a few days later, I gave a lecture about Sweden for some 300 students at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. This academic institution was founded by Prince Saionji Kinmochi in 1869. Prince Saionji can be described as a liberal statesman, in spite of his aristocratic background, and he certainly played an important role in Japanese history. He was strongly opposed to Japanese militarism and tried several times to save Japan from the catastrophe towards which it was heading.
On Sweden’s national day, 6 June, my wife and I had the pleasure to welcome 350 visitors to our residence. Before the Swedish artist Katie goes to Tokyo entertained us with a number of beautifuls songs I handed over the gigantic study ‘The Linnaeus Apostles’ in eight volumes (11 books) to Mr. Otaki Noritada, Librarian of the National Diet Library. The work was a gift from Sweden to Japan, symbolizing our excellent bilateral relations. Six years ago, Sweden was honoured by a state visit by the Japanese Emperor Akihito, in connection with the 300th anniversary of the birth of the famous Swedish natural scientist, Carl Linnaeus. Therefore, the gift seemed very appropriate. In fact, the Emperor has been a member of the Linnean Society since 1980. I hope the Emperor as well as the Japanese public will be able to enjoy this magnificent work that is now in the archives of the National Diet Library.