Director-General pays official visit to Japan

From 29 July to 10 August 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, undertook an official visit to Japan, visiting Tokyo, Nara and Kanazawa.

During his stay in Tokyo, the Director-General was received by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress as well as Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan. He also held talks with Mr Taro Aso, Prime Minister of Japan; Mr Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr Kaoru Yosano, Minister of Finance; Mr Ryu Shionoya, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Mr Takeo Kawamura, Chief Cabinet Secretary; and Mr Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister of Japan. During these meetings the Director-General presented his achievements in reforming both the administration and programmes of UNESCO. He also expressed his appreciation of Japan’s support for the Organization. The Government of Japan paid tribute to Mr Matsuura's efforts and expressed its firm intention to continue to strengthen that cooperation.

A lecture to the General Assembly of the Japanese National Commission to UNESCO on 31 July on the theme “UNESCO and Education” was an occasion for Mr Matsuura to underscore the importance of further investment in education, which is a basis for development, and to present UNESCO's active role and leadership in the field.

On 3 August, Mr Matsuura gave a keynote speech about “the future of international cooperation in cultural cooperation” at the conference on the theme organized by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage). On this occasion, the Director-General also offered a UNESCO medal to Mr Ikuo Hirayama, President of JCIC-Heritage, in recognition of Mr Hirayama's 20 years of service to the Organization as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

On the following day, 4 August, the Director-General and Ms Missa Johnouchi, Japanese musician and UNESCO Artist for Peace, signed a Partnership agreement related to the “World Heritage Torch-Run Concert” to be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 12 November 2009. In the afternoon, Mr Matsuura spoke at the conference organized by the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation, in honour of Mr Nobuhiko Ushiba, former Minister of State of Japan, gathering a large audience including senior governmental officials.

The Director-General also paid visits to other senior officials of the Japanese Government as well as eminent leaders of the private sector, including Mr Toshichika Ishihara, President of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. (TBS) during which Mr Matsuura and the President expressed their satisfaction with the long-lasting partnership between UNESCO and TBS in the field of world heritage.

A meeting with Mr Shigeo Fukuchi, President of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Cooperation) on 5 August was the occasion to renew the Partnership Agreement between UNESCO and NHK, first signed in 2004. The UNESCO Young People's World Heritage Education Programme (WHE Programme) is expected to benefit from the renewal of this agreement.

The Director-General visited the city of Nara from 6 to 8 August, where he opened the 2009 UNESCO Children's Performing Arts Festival of East Asia in Nara as part of the Commemorative Events of the 1300th anniversary of Nara Heijo-kyo capital. Mr Shogo Arai, Governor of Nara Prefecture, Ms Tomoko Ukishima, Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr Gen Nakagawa, Mayor of Nara, and Ms Komaki Kurihara, actress and Special Advisor to the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan, were also present. The Director-General enjoyed a high-level performance given by children artists from Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China and Japan (see Flash Info N°147-2009*).

Also in Nara, Mr Matsuura attended the opening session of the East Asia sub-regional meeting of the Secretary Generals of the National Commissions for UNESCO.

On 8 August, the Director-General gave a keynote speech at a Symposium on “The Future of Intangible Cultural Heritage” co-organized by UNESCO and the Asahi Shimbun Company as a result of a Media Partnership Agreement signed in 2008. This was followed by evening performances at the Todaiji-temple World Heritage site designed to allow the general public to enjoy some masterpieces of intangible cultural heritage, such as Nogaku (Japan), Mugham (Azerbaijan) and Kun Qu Opera (China).

Mr Matsuura’s visit to Kanazawa on 9 and 10 August included meetings with its Mayor, Mr Tamotsu Yamade and a speech on the responsibilities incumbent on the City of Kanazawa following its nomination to UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a “City of Crafts and Folk Art” in June 2009. On 10 August, the Director-General gave a conference on the theme “Kanazawa, role to be played in the international community as a creative city.” He also took this opportunity to welcome 11 primary and secondary schools in the City of Kanazawa to the UNESCO Associated Schools Network.

Throughout his visit, the Director-General was interviewed by several major Japanese televisions and newspapers.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 148-2009
  • 13-08-2009
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