Table Speech


Official Visit by the Governor

July 20, 2011

Mr. Masato Mizuno
Governor, RI District 2580
Tokyo Rotary Club

I am honored to be appointed Governor for District 2580 this year. I do appreciate your warm welcome here today, at my home club.
I was born in 1943 at Ashiya City, Kobe Prefecture. I studied at Konan Gakuen from kindergarten straight up to University. I was a member of the soccer club for 7 years, while I enjoyed skiing from my early childhood. I also joined the Cub Scouts and was involved in Scouts activities for many years. I studied at Carthage College for 4 years, located at the neighboring town of Racine where Paul Harris was born, and returned to Japan after my graduation in 1970.
I initially joined the Rotary Club in Osaka in 1979 at the age of 36, following my grandfather and father. I resided in Tokyo at that time, so I intended to shuttle between Tokyo and Osaka to attend the weekly meetings. I must confess I was not a diligent Rotarian, though I managed to keep the 100% attendance rate by attending make-up meetings in Tokyo most of the time. In 1986, I decided to join the Tokyo RC by the sponsorship of Mr. Minoru Nakamura and Mr. Jiro Ushio.
I somehow became the President of Tokyo RC for Rotary Year 2004-05, the year Rotary International celebrated its centennial anniversary. I was privileged to visit our sister club in Washington DC and signed the twin club agreement. After some years, I was nominated to become the District Governor for Rotary Year 2009-10. Yet I had to ask for a 2-year-postponement, as I became extremely busy with the campaign to host the 2016 Olympics in Tokyo as JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee) Vice President. Unfortunately, Tokyo failed to be selected as the host city of the 2016 Games. Now, I am again extremely busy with preparations to bid for the 2020 Olympics. I am tormented by regret at having accepted Governorship again at such a busy time with Olympics preparations.
Mr. Kalyan Banerjee is the RI President this year. He is from Bapi RC in India and runs the largest agrochemical company in the country. He has long devoted himself in the Polioplus initiative. The 2011-12 RI theme, “Reach Within to Embrace Humanity”, is based on an Eastern philosophy, and Mr. Banerjee stated that Rotarians should be guided by three objectives – (i) healthy “family” bound by rigid ties, (ii) “continuity” of activities Rotary excels at, and (iii) “change” to adapt to the challenging socio-economic environment. People in Japan strongly felt the importance of family ties, especially after the devastating earthquake on March 11th. As we will explore “New Generation” in our new fifth Avenue of Service, this District will implement service activities that embrace the younger generation.
The District vision will be “simple but substantial,” which was originally made by our past Governor Mr. Sumao Tokumasu. When Mr. Okazaki, who was Secretary under the Tokumasu Governorship, told me about this vision, I felt as if I had been struck by lightning. It was because this vision perfectly manifests the direction we must head towards, when reform is most needed.
Today, the number of Rotarians in Japan has dropped from 130,000 to 89,000. Rotarians in our District also decreased from 5,000 to 3,000. There are various reasons for the decline, of which the battered Japanese economy is the major cause. We must make our club activities enjoyable to attract more Rotarians to participate, thus making our regular meetings a venue for friends, rather than acquaintances, to gather.
As a Governor, I want to take some drastic measures to reform Rotary towards “simple but substantial” activities. First, I will stop printing and distributing the Governor’s Monthly Letter, and will post it on the District website to have it available electronically to cut expenses. President and Secretary of each club are expected to access the website and get information on RI and Districts, and inform their member Rotarians at regular meetings. I also feel the need for training on Rotary affairs as a whole, including its guiding principles, strategic planning, programs, trends of Service activities, history of RI, priority activities etc. By allocating a few minutes on such topics during our regular meetings, Club Forum or Fireside meetings for new members, it will be possible.
Another big reform is on the District Conference which will be held here at the Imperial Hotel on February 22nd, 2012. We have shortened the 2-day-meeting to one day. It is my sincere wish that we will keep identifying areas where reforms are needed to continue “simple but substantial” activities to pursue the Rotary ideal of “Service Above Self.”
The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11th is a crisis for this country and we must do our best to reconstruct and rebuild Japan. The Governors’ Association of Rotary Year 2010-11 raised 1 billion yen throughout this country to assist the following 2 long-term reconstruction programs: first, the scholarship program for disaster orphans; and second, the “Five for One” program which supports 1 club in the disaster-stricken areas by 5 clubs. I am determined to ensure smooth implementation of these programs.
Before closing, let me reiterate my determination to do my best as Governor. As I mentioned earlier, I am also in charge of inviting the 2020 Olympic Games to Japan. I do hope we will win the race at the IOC Session at Buenos Aires on September 7th, 2013, to make the 2020 Olympics an event to celebrate reconstruction of Japan. Let me ask for your generous understanding and support throughout this year.