Table Speech


“Address by the President for the Final Weekly Meeting”

June 24, 2009

Mr. Mitsuhiro Kurokawa
President, Rotary Club of Tokyo
Mr. Koichi Takenaka
Secretary, Rotary Club of Tokyo

“Address by the President for the Final Weekly Meeting”
Mr. Mitsuhiro Kurokawa
President, Rotary Club of Tokyo

Mr. Dong Kurn Lee, the President of Rotary International, identified “health, starvation eradication, water and improving literacy rate” to be the continuing priority areas for activities under the slogan of “Make Dreams Real” in 2008. President Lee wished to give dreams to children by improving their living conditions, where over 30,000 children under the age of five fall victim every day to causes that are avoidable in developed nations.
This message of President Lee motivated me, as the President-elect, to enhance the service activities of the Rotary Club of Tokyo for the betterment of the world. I am convinced that the Rotary Club, an international body spread to over 200 countries and regions, has an obligation to implement various activities based on a broader point of view.
Around the same time, I decided to further enhance the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation activities, as I was re-convinced on their significance by conversations with other Rotarians. October is the Yoneyama Month, and we were privileged to welcome Mr. Jun Ji, the former Yoneyama scholar and an up-and-coming lawyer in China, as our guest speaker. The Club Forum was organized after the weekly meeting, with the attendance of over 60 Rotarians. A panel discussion entitled “Mr. Umekichi Yoneyama and the Scholarship Program: what scholars have gained and how they have put it to good use” was held and 4 former and present Yoneyama scholars were the panelists. We were convinced on the significance of the “Host Club and Counselor System,” a distinctive feature that builds heart-to-heart ties between Rotarians and scholars, which expand further beyond the club. The Club Forum deepened understanding for the program, and resulted in generous contributions exceeding an annual sum of 10 million yen. The article in “ROTARY-no-tomo” June edition reported Mr. Jun Ji became the first President of the newly-established Alumni Association of Yoneyama Scholars in China, our long-cherished “dream made real,” where people of different generations will gather and mingle. The Rotary Club of Tokyo needs to establish a network of contact with 150 scholars we have sponsored.
Yoneyama Scholarship Program started in 1952, under the slogan of “save one box of cigarette per month.” Ever since, the program has sponsored over 14,500 scholars (as of April 2008) in total. I wish to express my sincere esteem to our foresighted senior Rotarians who started this program with the conviction that “Japan should pursue the path to peace from now on. We must support as many oversea scholars as possible and build mutual relationship of trust, to get recognition by the international community. This will surely be the most suitable international service activities for Rotary Clubs in Japan.”
In February, 250 Rotarians and guests, including World Peace Fellow, Yoneyama scholars, International Youth Exchange Program students and ambassadors, attended the Rotary 104th Anniversary Meeting. Our honorary member Mrs. Sadako Ogata, the 2nd Japanese Rotary scholar who studied at Georgetown University in 1951, made a speech and remarked that “collaboration between Rotary International and Rotary Japan will generate a powerful input to the new world tormented with various challenging issues.” According to the UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) report of December 2008, starving population around the world reached 963 million, an increase of 40 million from the previous year. Together with Mrs. Ogata, the Rotary Club of Tokyo should identify effective projects and take due actions from this time on.
The Rotary Club of Tokyo initiated the anti-personnel landmine clearance activities in 1998, to support activities in Cambodia which has the largest number of victims. 1,189,178 of land was cleared during 10 years and this truly international project is scheduled to conclude in February 2010. I hope a new project, which follows as an extension of this official district international service activity, will spring up from Tokyo Rotary Club under the guidance of Governor Nominee Masato Mizuno during 2011-12.
As was stated in the message of President Lee, Rotary has an obligation and responsibility to continue its Service Activities as long as there are people in dire needs. It is true that our business is suffering from the worst global recession in 100 years that calls for pressing measures to be taken. Yet, I earnestly believe that we should never take our eyes away from the underprivileged around the world.
Theme of the Club Forum in April was membership development and active discussions centered on the appropriateness of accepting female members. I hope members will discuss the matter thoroughly and come up with a conclusion that everyone will be happy to go along with. Due to sluggish economy, there was virtually no recommendation for a new member in the beginning. Thanks to the effort and appeal made by Rotarians in charge of membership, the number of recommendation boosted in the second half, which will be a strong basis for increase in membership.
Looking back at my one-year-presidency, I recognized the high potentiality of Rotary Club of Tokyo anew, thanks to all your warm support and collaboration. This is truly an outstanding asset of our Club. I cannot thank Mr. Shiina more, our Vice President, for all his support. He was an excellent host for our guest speakers, and I am sure all the guests were impressed by the intelligence of our Club. I was also supported tremendously by our Secretary Mr. Takenaka through his perfect and sincere work. I was impressed by your excellent self-respect and discipline, as I saw how devoted all the Directors, Chairmen, Assistant Secretaries and each member in our district were with your duties. Thanks to the efficient support by the Secretariat, I managed to serve out my time as the President. Let me concluded my speech by expressing my sincere gratitude to you all.

“Address by the Secretary for the Final Weekly Meeting””
Mr. Koichi Takenaka
Secretary, Rotary Club of Tokyo

I still remember the phone call I received from President Elect Mr. Kurokowa, which started with the preliminary remarks, “Rotarians are not supposed to refuse, so…” and told me my nomination as a Secretary. Although I felt overwhelmed by the heavy duty it might entail, I felt honored and decided to accept the nomination. This was the start of my 3-year-duty, 2 years as an Assistant Secretary and one year as a Secretary.
Serving as a secretary gave me a wonderful opportunity to learn about Rotary. Let me express my sincere gratitude for all the support and cooperation I received, especially by President Kurokawa, Vice-President Shiina, Treasurer Ooyama, Assistant Secretaries, Directors, Committee Chairmen, Members and the Secretariat.
Rotary year 2008 started on July 2nd, 2008. On July 7th, Mr. Dong Kurn Lee, RI President, visited Japan and a meeting was held. The theme of this meeting was all about “membership development.” President Kurokawa, Membership Director Kondo and I attended and were all stunned by the ambitious target of “increasing members by at least 10% in each club.”
That meant our club had to recruit over 30 new members, exactly when we were experiencing major decrease in membership. Due to worldwide recession, our membership development activities were not promising, while one Rotarian after another withdrew from membership due to health reasons etc. In November we received a letter from President Lee, encouraging us to further increase membership as “Japan, a country with 2nd largest membership, was now overtaken by India.”
Thanks to the effort by Membership Committee and the help from the newly-established working-group by young members, we were able to receive a few new members. The finance of the club depends on the number of members, but thanks to the cost-reduction measures taken by the Secretariat, we ended in the black.
Day-time weekly meetings were held 42 times. Thanks to the enthusiastic activities by the Program Committee, we were enlightened by table speeches of wide-ranging topics, including politics, economy, medical service, culture etc. Many of the speeches were on education, a hot issue now, given by speakers from various backgrounds and fields, including school teachers, linguists, child welfare specialists and architects. Family also joined evening meetings: one in October with the superb piano concert by Ms. Harumi Hanafusa, and another with the music and dance by the “Diamond Cowboys,” led by our member Mr. Ueda, at the end of the year.
The Meals Committee carried out 3 questionnaires and reviewed the menu considering members’ opinions. The Vocational Service Committee organized the visit to Suntory Museum of Art, in which many members joined and learnt the company’s CSR activities of how profits are plowed back into society. Let me express my sincere gratitude to all the Directors and Committee Chairmen, who succeeded in implementing effective, efficient fund-raising activities, and to all the members for your generous contribution.
As for the International Youth Exchange Program, we sponsored Ms. Patsuda Sae-Chueng from Thailand, who spent a fruitful and enjoyable one year thanks to the hospitality of the counselor, host family and district officers.
I have briefly summed up many of the service activities and events which all finished in success, thanks to your cooperation. Let me conclude my speech by wishing all the best to President Kodama, Secretary Kashiwabara, Directors and Officers for the coming Rotary year. Thank you.