Table Speech

Initiation Speech
Report of the Challenge 100 Committee

August 08, 2012

Mr. Takeshi Kawamoto
Mr. Yuji Hashimoto

Mr. Takeshi Kawamoto
President, Juchheim Co., Ltd.

Germany, Japan and Baumkuchen

  I have been a Germany watcher over 50 years. When Japan was intoxicated by the frenzy bubble economy, we were deluded to be “number one” in the world. In reality, however, Japan was well behind Germany. Keeping a close eye on it, I noticed their industry was much more advanced than ours, including automobiles and foodstuff like beer, sausages, rye bread and Baumkuchen.

 Germany is also an advanced ecology-minded country. It takes a holistic “ecology balance sheet” approach that compares various cost factors for recycling, washing and transportation to find the optimal choice.

 German people like the two words “Zweckmäßig” meaning pertinent or utilitarian and “Deutsche Gründlichkeit” meaning German efficiency or thoroughness.

 Engelbert Kämpfer (1651-1716) was the first German recounted in the Japanese history. He visited Edo and had an audience with the Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi on March 29, 1691.

 The well-known physician Siebold was the next German to appear in the Japanese history. He came to Japan in 1823 as a Dutchman (Bergholländer) because Germans were prohibited from entering Japan in those days.

 In 1897, two German missionaries were murdered in Shandon under the Qing Dynasty. The German Empire took advantage of this incident and concluded a treaty which granted Germany the leasehold of Kiaochow Bay for 99 years. In 1908, one German confectioner was invited to the German Town in Qingdao and baked the Baumkuchen. In 1914, however, World War I broke out and Imperial Japan attacked Qingdao requested by the United Kingdom. The Anglo-Japanese allied forces besieged Qingdao on November 7. 4,791 German POWs were sent to 12 camps across Japan. Most of them were released and went back to Germany with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, yet some bakers, confectioners and sausage craftsmen chose to settle down in Japan.

 Japanese ate the Baumkuchen for the first time on March 4, 1919. Baumkuchen literally translates to “tree cake.” “Tree” refers to the spit around which Baumkuchen is baked. Even layers of batter are brushed on it and then the spit is rotated around a heat source. Baumkuchen is favored by many as it is not too sweet and the characteristic scorched brown rings resembling growth rings of a tree are tasty.

 Various vocational codes exist in Germany from olden times. For example in 1516, Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) was stipulated in Bavaria and only allows barley, hops and water to be used in producing beer. As for Baumkuchen, butter is the only oil allowed, while baking powder is prohibited.

 There is also a Meister system to train young craftsmen. In olden days, you needed to be a Konditor Meister (master of confectioner) to have your own shop. The famous Baumkuchen is a confection that symbolizes the Association of the German Confectionary Industry.

Report of the Challenge 100 Committee

Mr. Yuji Hashimoto
Vice Chairman of Challenge 100 Committee

Future of the Tohoku Sukusuku Project

 Let me inform you on the upcoming activities of the Tohoku Sukusuku (Mother and Child Care) Project towards our centennial anniversary. Tokyo RC has successfully completed the 10-year-Clear Land Project of demining in Cambodia. This Project was implemented to commemorate our 90th anniversary. Challenge 100 Committee was established to formulate a new project towards our centennial. In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the project theme was set to assist reconstruction of disaster-affected areas. After extensive discussions, the Tohoku Sukusuku Project was launched to support new life born in these areas.

 A Child Support Center in Rikuzentakata City was damaged by the Earthquake. A Project was established to rebuild this facility as its first initiative last year, with funding worth 11 million yen from the Rotary Japan Disaster Recovery Fund Grants and 10 million yen from Tokyo RC. The Child Care House was completed on February 4th 2012 and more than 20 member Rotarians attended the Handover Ceremony, together with Mr. Toba (Mayor of Rikuzentakata) and Mr. Itoh (Chairman of Rikuzentakata RC). Through several visits to the House, we have observed this facility is playing a pivotal role in the local community, where mothers and children communicate, the elderly residing in temporary housings communicate with others, various events take place and mothers engage in voluntary circles to help their community.

 Looking ahead, let me inform you on the future direction of this Project, based on the discussions of last week by the Challenge 100 Committee and the Board.

 Firstly, let me emphasize that circumstances in disaster-stricken areas have changed rapidly since this April, so has the assistance they receive. Right after the Earthquake, extensive financial, in-kind and personnel assistance was provided from various entities. Unfortunately, however, the majority of such assistance was completed by April. The Rotary Japan Disaster Recovery Fund Grants will also terminate shortly. I must say disaster-stricken areas are no longer likely to receive large amount of assistance from other areas.

 Under such circumstances, we decided to shift the Project from proving direct assistance to promoting “self-reliance” of local communities. Local residents themselves must get organized to take an active initiative, and Rotary will undertake to support such activities. We must train personnel who will assist mothers and children and create a community for them, and further facilitate networking among such communities. Special skills and knowledge will be given to the “core” members and staff through seminars and training sessions. Mothers must be healthy both mentally and physically to raise a healthy child and thus a “mutually supportive community” is needed to provide care and relaxation to mothers. Interactive exchanges of people and organizations through networking will facilitate information sharing and mutual support beyond each region.

 Let me emphasize that this Project is in line with one of the Areas of Focus, “Maternal and Child Health”, identified in the Future Vision set by the Rotary Foundation. I am convinced our initiative will make a significant contribution to assist new life brought into the world.

 Before closing, let me ask for your generous understanding and support for this Project. The situation in disaster areas is changing day by day, and thus the speed of project implementation might vary depending on each locality and situation. I am convinced this Project with true Rotary spirit will achieve substantial results.