Table Speech

“Governor’s Official Visit”

July 16, 2008

Mr. Kenji Sakurai,
Governor of RI D2580,
Tokyo Musashino Rotary Club

 Two and a half years ago, I was designated as a Governor Nominee and after one year and a half I have spent one full year as Governor Elect. The past two and a half years of preparation was, for me, a very meaningful time. Recently, in order to become a Governor I attended the International Assembly. After a week of intensive training, I believe that I came to fully appreciate the importance of the activities undertaken by Rotary International through the Rotary Foundation.
 On the first day of the International Assembly, Mr. Dong Kurn Lee, the President of Rotary International delivered the opening address. President Lee’s priority items for the year are, “securing safe, potable water”, ”measures to fight infant and child starvation and improve children’s health” and “improvements in literacy rates in developing countries”. President Lee stated, “Because these 3 priorities have not been met, 6,000 infants die each day. Furthermore, those children who die are those less than 5 years old. When I first heard the number, I thought there had been some mistakes. However, I was astonished to learn that it was a fact. I wish somehow Rotarians would be able to fulfill these children’s needs and put an end to this problem. Let us put make the dreams of these children into something so that they will have hope for tomorrow. This is the reason I selected ‘Make Dreams Real’ as this year’s theme”.
 In Japan concern over unsafe drinking water, starvation or health and sanitation are foreign concepts to us. The literacy rate does not even rank as a conversation topic. However, we cannot forget that there are people suffering under living conditions far worse than those in Japan. It is the norm that not much discussion is had of priority items, but it is necessary to understand the reasons for the selection of priority items by the RI presidents at the time. Even if it is not possible to incorporate the priority items into club activities immediately, understanding should be had concerning where the RI president is focusing the importance.
 How can we tie together Rotary’s voluntary service and vocational service activities? If Rotary’s activities are an ethical movement, some kind of action as an active volunteer body is necessary. We should first draw a picture in our minds of “what vocational service is”. Each member should create their own concrete service activities and code of conduct and then that “vocational service” pictured in each of our minds will tie into “voluntary service” as we take action.
 I would like to speak now about how our District should be.
 The Governor has the responsibility of making official visits to the 71 clubs in the District. The District committees are also active. At the start, actions are based on an annual plan, but at times there will also be a need to make changes. There will be occasions when unexpected issues arise and a change in direction needs to be made. Occasionally, there will be cases where a district committee formulates an action plan not in line with the needs of the club and initiates actions. Unfortunately, it is difficult for Governors to make changes to such plans midstream.
 The RC operates on a single year system but, with the thought that there should be a vision with some continuity, an “Office System” has been established in the district organizations and office managers have been installed to manage the committees. Furthermore, in each sub-district an assistant governor is chosen to represent the Governor, and undertakes information exchanges with each club as the Governor’s representative. The assistant governor and the office manager exchange information regularly. The office manager also attends the district committee meetings and participates in the discussions. If an issue arises in each club, an immediate response is made at the corresponding district committee. Or, if activities proposed by a district committee are deemed unbeneficial to the club, the assistant governor checks the activities plans, and reaches a conclusion to create activities that will truly benefit the club.
 The intention is that a plan once decided are not unchangeable for the whole year, but to enable the members in charge to make immediate adjustments if something happens. The “Office” has just recently been created and still some confusion exists, but I intend to put in place an organization that will be productive in organizational reform as soon as possible, and be ready for use in providing club support.