Table Speech

Account of My Father’s Stay in Japan in 1953 and about the Activities of Refugee International Japan

October 14, 2015

Mr. Simon Black
Partner, Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho

 Today let me talk about my father’s experiences in Japan and about a charitable organization I work for to support those displaced by conflicts around the world.

 My father joined the Royal Navy in 1946 when he was 13. He was trained at the Royal Navy College at Dartmouth, southern England, and joined the crew of aircraft carrier HMS Victorious at age 17. He was deployed to the Korean War in 1953 and went through hard experiences.

 During those days, Victorious anchored off the shore of Sasebo in Kyushu. It took about an hour by boat to Sasebo town where my father enjoyed the beautiful scenery, delicious meals and stayed in Japanese inns. The crew also stayed at Kure in Hiroshima to refresh themselves after a hard-fought battle in Korea. My father saw how diligently the Japanese people worked to rebuild the country after WWII and was deeply impressed by its culture and the dignity of Japanese people.

 Following my father’s advice to go to Japan, I stayed in Japan from 1994 to 1996. I returned to Japan in 2010 and got involved with the Refugee International Japan (RIJ) founded in Japan in 1979 to improve the lives of displaced people at refugee camps.

 I must say three factors exacerbate the refugee crises. Firstly, civil wars and government suppressions force people to take refuge. We must bring wars to an end and ensure political solutions in Western countries as well as countries engaged in wars like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Turkey. Secondly, refugee camps around conflict areas must be provided with funds and facilities to improve the lives of the displaced. And lastly, recipient countries must be fully prepared to receive refugees, including formulation of a scheme to recognize refugee status. European countries currently face serious challenges.

 RIJ engages in fund-raising and its allocation to community-based projects implemented at refugee camps. Being a small organization, we have succeeded in keeping our operating costs to a minimum and ensuring funds are spent most effectively. We welcome your generous donations.

 An increasing number of companies are willing to contribute to both the economic and social development of the local communities they invest in. They seek to do more than simply making donations, including fund-raising and project implementation, to which RIJ offers support. Wealthy Japanese have also come to recognize the significance of making donations to charitable organizations. I sincerely hope that young people will join them and change the world to a better place to live. We can utilize SNS (social networking services) and other leisure activities to call for their support and participation.

 As I close my speech, let me ask for your wise advice and generous support to make RIJ a truly international charitable organization.

Our Familiar Fish Paste Products – Its History and Fishery Resources

October 14, 2015

Mr. Masayuki Ochiai
Audit & Supervisory Board Member, Kibun Foods Inc.

 Today, I will talk about fish paste products which are familiar, including chikuwa and kamaboko, and their raw material fish. Fish paste products date back to ancient times when fish meat was flaked, grated and pasted around a bamboo stick to be grilled. It resembles chikuwa we consume today. It was first documented in 1115, during the Heian period (794-1185), when kamaboko was served at the banquet hosted by Kampaku (Chancellor) Fujiwara no Tadazane. Kamaboko seems to have been used for celebratory feasts at the emperor’s court and aristocratic families.

 Kamaboko was mainly made with minced catfish in those days. But people also used different kinds of fish easily available in their locality. The cooking method also developed from simply using salt to using other seasonings and stewing them. The unique development of food culture in Japan after the Muromachi period (1336-1573) produced various seasonings including miso and soy sauce.

 People tried to make the fullest possible use of fish caught from the foreshore that created fish paste products utilizing raw material fish unique to each locality. For example, Atka mackerel and Walleye Pollack are used in Hokkaido, flounder in Sendai, striped pigfish and Japanese bluefish in Kanto, sardine in Shizuoka, conger-pike in Kansai and Japanese flying fish and horse mackerel in western Japan and Kyusyu.

 Two innovative changes enabled mass production of fish paste products. Firstly, the development of frozen Walleye Pollack fish paste by Hokkaido Fisheries Research Institute in 1960 ensured reliable supply of high-quality easy-to-process ingredients that allowed mass production of chikuwa and kamaboko throughout Japan at low cost. Secondly, the commercialization of kani-kamaboko (simulated crab meat, known as SURIMI overseas) in 1974 enabled it to spread throughout the world. They became available at supermarkets in many countries, including France, Italy, UK, Spain, US and Canada. Consumption of fish paste products in Japan today accounts for merely 38% of the world total, while the percentage keeps increasing in China (17%), Europe (10%) and Southeast Asia (10%). The raw material is processed following the recipe dating back to ancient times. Again, overseas manufacturers are growing rapidly and Japanese production has dropped to 18% of the world total.

 As for the resources of raw material fish, southern hemisphere fish with high fertility like golden threadfin-bream are widely-used to meet the increase in global demand. There is a growing concern, however, of overfishing, especially in the South China Sea that caused a sharp 15% decline in the catch in 2013. Walleye Pollack, on the other hand, enjoys a stable catch exceeding 1 million ton over the last five years, thanks to the comprehensive fishery management taken by the US. However, the increase in demand for cod in Western countries is tightening supply of raw material for fish paste products.

 To ensure stable supply of raw materials to meet increasing demand for these products, we must implement a sustainable management of fisheries in the South China Sea as well as develop new kinds of raw material fish. Unfortunately, the future looks uncertain at the moment.