Table Speech

Official Visit by the Governor

July 23, 2014

Mr. Takao Suzuki
Governor, RI District 2580 (Tokyo Ikebukuro RC)

 I was appointed to the post of governor on July 1st. A District Governor is an officer of Rotary International (RI) who performs his/her duty under the supervision of the RI Board. The governor is responsible for giving guidance and instruction to the clubs in the district, promoting the guiding principles of Rotary as well as securing continuity within the district. I attended a seven-day-training session in January for incoming governors during the International Assembly in San Diego, USA. Governors from around the world gathered with their spouses and partners, including 34 members from Japan.

 The RI President for 2014-2015 is Mr. Gary C. K. Huang, the very first Chinese governor from Taiwan. He referred to the Chinese philosopher Confucius as the “Rotarian in China 2,500 years ago,” quoting his sayings of “in good behavior, control one’s home and control one’s nation” and “do unto others what you want done unto you.” I believe Confucius was a true Rotarian. Mr. Huang chose “Light up Rotary” as the theme for this year, so let’s work to make Rotary even more radiant in this coming year.

 President Huang focuses on membership development. The number of Rotarians has dropped to 1.18 million and RI plans to bring it back to 1.3 million by the end of 2016. Another issue of focus is making donations to the Rotary Foundation “End Polio Now” program. We are close to eradicating polio, yet political instability in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nigeria has suspended the administration of live vaccines. Let me ask for your generous contribution of 150 dollars each. Part of the donation will be reimbursed to the district to be utilized for various projects.

 Now, let me enumerate three points of focus for our District 2580. Firstly, I wish you will base all the activities on the ideal of vocational service. 2020 will mark the centennial anniversary for the Rotary initiative in Japan as well as the centennial celebration for this Tokyo Rotary Club. The spirit of vocational service has won support from many Rotarians in Japan and has underlain our activities. Looking back in history, a lecturer and philosopher of the Edo period, Baigan Ishida, sought to develop a set of business ethics for merchants. The management philosophy of the Omi merchants “benefit not only company, but also customer and society” means that commercial transactions should benefit not only the merchants but society as a whole. In the Meiji era, an industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa advocated for harmony between ethics and business and worked to improve the status of professionals. Company is a public institution and thus, its management principle should incorporate the moral and ethical aspects to promote the sound development in economics and society. The Rotary philosophy of “Service Above Self” and “One Profits Most Who Serves Best” teaches us to serve for others to benefit all. Please note that the ideal of vocational service distinguishes Rotary from other social service groups.

 The second point I want to raise is membership development. I ask you all to discuss about what is causing such a large drop in membership for a group that works towards “Doing Good in the World.” I also want you to think about what makes you a Rotarian, share the good “Rotary Moment” with others, encourage young people and non-members to join us, and persuade Rotarians wondering whether to leave the Club or not to stay. I learnt that the lack of understanding on Rotary activities might have been a part of the reason for withdrawals from the Club. A training leader is appointed in each district and assistant governors of the sub-districts serve as training committee members. I have requested them to organize seminars and training sessions for each sub-district.

 The third point of focus is youth service activities, which I think is the most rewarding activities for Rotarians. We can hand down the spirit of Rotary and increase membership by making the younger generation understand the ideals of Rotary. Many young foreign students study in Japan with the support of our scholarship programs. We must get wider understanding on such activities and work to improve our public image. We will have PR campaigns around the Rotary Day on February 23rd that marks the birthday of Rotary and hope to attract much more attention. Let me also ask for your generous contributions to the Rotary Foundation and other scholarship programs that include the “Yoneyama Scholarship” as well as the “Rotary Wind of Hope Scholarship” provided to university and technical college students orphaned by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Please also note that the Yoneyama Umekichi Memorial Hall that had become derelict has been taken care of by District 2620. I understand Tokyo Rotary Club has given a large contribution, but I hope you will visit the Hall and help us with the refurbishment by our centennial anniversary.

 Tokyo Rotary Club is blessed with excellent human resource and wealth of connection. All Rotarians look up to you as a role model. Let me ask for your further support and to lead our way as the leading Club in Japan. The District Conference will be held on February 16-17 next year, followed by the International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, on June 6-9, 2015. I hope many of you can join us and “Light up Rotary” with your wisdom and excellent business contact.