A typical month in the life of a diplomat: not like others

Published 29 October 2013 in:

Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA

The autumn is usually the most beautiful season in Japan with lots of dry and sunny days. This year the month of October has been a bit special. One typhoon after another have hit the Japanese islands, probably as a result of the ongoing climate change, which has caused the temperatures of the oceans to rise and thereby creating severe storms even in late October.

October has not only been full of rain and strong winds, but also of various activities. In the beginning of the month the ‘Swedish Innovation’ exhibition opened at the leading Japanese science and technology museum, Miraikan. A number of Swedish innovators and entrepreneurs presented their new ideas and products. Later the same day a seminar on female entrepreneurship and innovation was held at the Alfred Nobel Auditorium at the Embassy. And next day there was an investment promotion seminar, followed by a round table discussion on the Japanese economy, both in connection with the visit to Japan by Mr. Håkan Ekengren, State Secretary of the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications. A large ‘shibori’ exhibition also opened in the Embassy’s Bergman Hall. It was open to the public for two weeks and attracted many visitors.

The following week was for my part mostly spent in Kumamoto, where the historical Convention on Mercury was adopted and signed by representatives of some one hundred countries. But I also had meetings with representatives from the city of Umeå, which next year will be one of two so-called cultural capitals of Europe, the other one being Riga.

On the 16th of October, Dr. Ingrid Carlberg, the Swedish journalist and author of a recently published and acclaimed book in Swedish on the actitivies of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest in 1944, gave a very interesting lecture on the same topic at Waseda University in Tokyo. The day after I met the Mayor of the City of Matsuyama, Mr. Katsuhito Noshi, who asked me to participate in next years literary activities in the summer, held every year due to the city’s importance for the development of haiku in Japan, not least thanks to the famous poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), who lived there. Since I have published several books on Japanese haiku I look forward to be part of their activities.

Last week the European Institute of Japanese Studies (EIJS) organized an interesting seminar on the Japanese economy at the Embassy, again, in our often used Alfred Nobel Auditorium. I also participated in the so-called Smart City Week in Yokohama, where one of the days was simply called the ‘Sweden Day’. Then it was time for the common Nordic seminar called ‘Nordic Green’ at the Iino Hall here in Tokyo. All these activities attracted a lot of participants, clearly showing that Sweden and the other Nordic countries gain a lot of attention when it comes to environmental policies and solutions.

On Friday last week the large project ‘Sweden Kids Week’ opened a fantastic three-day exhibition in the Bergman Hall of the Embassy. Swedish products for small children, ranging from toys, clothes and playground equipments to advanced apps for the computers were on display. Thousands, yes thousands of Japanese young families came to the Embassy over the weekend in spite of the rainy weather.

Then there are the always recuring regular meetings that fill the calendar, both with representatives of Japanese organizations and within the EU context. And later today, I will have the pleasure to welcome the Swedish opposition leader Mr. Stefan Löfvén to Japan. He will be here for a two day program filled with meetings and study visits.

It would be wrong to say that the life of a Swedish diplomat in Japan is boring.