Table Speech

“Official Visit by the Governor”

July 15, 2009

Mr. Hiromu Tada
Governor, RI District 2580

 Today, I have distributed the card with one of the slogans of Rotary International, “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” I hand out this card each time I make an official visit, as it is brief and to the point. I want the Rotarians in District 2580 to cherish this phrase and put it into practice.

 You will find my greetings in the Governor’s Monthly Letter (July edition). Although RI asks the Monthly Letters to be distributed only to the President and Secretary of each club, they have been distributed to all members in our district. As their volume is increasing, I made “some changes” to its contents from the vol. 1 issued in July 2009. I would be happy if you could read them and let me have your comments.

 There is an article introducing our new President of RI, Mr. John Kenny, in the Rotary-no-tomo (July edition), so please go through it and get to know his personality and thoughts. I take him to be a truly orthodox person.

 President Kenny expressed his concern by saying, “RI is at the turning point today, and I wonder which direction to take. For example, membership is increasing on a whole, in countries like India, South Korea and in African countries. Yet, membership is declining in counties like the US, Japan and Australia. Although membership development is important, we should not sacrifice the spirit of service. Rotary must give priority to its fundamental mission to serve others through each vocation and volunteer for ‘service above self.’” I am sure you share the same concern with him, as I do.

 I had a chance to visit the University of Glasgow, President Kenny’s alma mater, after participating in the Convention in Birmingham. The University dates back 800 years, turning out prominent graduates in law and medicine. I deepened my understanding of President Kenny, who is truly philosophical, meditative and literary. He stated that “Rotary Clubs consist of strictly selected Rotarians who have superior ethical views, strong will and philanthropy. The power of each Rotarian might be weak, but if we unite our efforts, we can make big changes in the world.”

 As you all know, priority areas of RI are to eradicate polio, solve water shortages, work on health and starvation, and improve literacy rate. We need “human power and money” to respond to these pressing issues.

 Mr. Bill Gates, Sr. donated 100 million dollars to eradicate polio, which motivated RI to launch the Challenge Grant fundraising, with an objective to collect the same amount of funds through Rotarians around the world. During the 2009 Convention, Mr. Bill Gates himself donated an additional 255 million dollars, and RI announced it would raise the Challenge Grant fundraising target by 100 million dollars. Rotary Japan plans to collect 3,000-yen per member for 3 years and is committed to do our best for collaboration.

 RI has a very ambitious vision to eliminate conflicts from this earth, which needs “money, personnel and time.” First, we must work on personnel training. RI proposed the “Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution” at 8 universities in 7 countries with an objective to educate personnel on master’s or doctoral courses, who will play pivotal roles in conflict elimination in the future. The International Christian University in Tokyo is one of the universities accepting the “Rotary World Peace Fellowships.” RI eased conditions for establishing RCs in 2007, to stimulate RCs to be established in Africa, a region afflicted with the most conflicts.

 As of 14 June 2009, Rotary members totaled 1,234,066 around the world, of which 885,281 (72% of the total) are from the top-10 counties (US, India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Germany, UK, Italy, France and Australia). There are 33,658 clubs worldwide, with 22,223 clubs (66%) from the top-10 countries. Japan is currently the third largest country, after being overtaken by India. Membership is expanding in Africa, the Middle-East and other developing countries. The future prospects for Japan are not promising, and actions we take now will decide our future course.

 Before closing my speech, let me clarify the three duties for Rotarians, stipulated by RI: A) pay the membership dues, B) attend the weekly meetings and associate with other Rotarians, and C) read The Rotarian or the regional magazine Rotary-no-tomo. I would like to add one more duty, as D) attend all (or most!) meetings and learn and benefit from them.

 I hope many more of you will attend the Annual Convention inviting your family members. I am going to launch the District Convention Planning Committee not just relying on a host club and planning to produce more entertaining programs for the whole family. Please look forward to the many “changes” we are going to make, and I count on an enthusiastic cooperation from the Rotary Club of Tokyo.