Table Speech

Official Visit by the Governor

July 26, 2017

Mr. Masatoshi Yoshida
Governor, RI District 2580
Tokyo Shintoshin RC

 Today, let me share the theme and the three strategic priorities set by 2017-2018 RI President Ian H.S. Riseley as well as the keyword I have set for this RY “Excitement and Harmony,” our action guideline “Training and Implementation” and my life-changing experience as a Rotarian.

 “Rotary: Making a Difference” is this year’s presidential theme. During a week-long training I attended this January in San Diego, the then President Elect Mr. Riseley encouraged Rotarians to “dedicate to service through Rotary… that will continue to grow, to endure, to go from strength to strength – making a difference to our communities, our countries, and our world”.

 One of the strategic priorities is “to support and strengthen our clubs”. Currently Rotary membership totals 1.2 million in over 200 countries. While the figure is increasing in India, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, we witness continuous decline in the so-called leading Rotary countries such as the U.S.A., Europe and Japan, which leads to the overall decline. I think we must attract and engage female and younger members to revitalize our organization. Currently, female Rotarians account for merely 20% and members below 40 years of age is marginal with less than 5%.

 The second strategic priority is “to focus and increase our humanitarian service”. We are close to eradicating polio yet we must provide continuous support to ensure total eradication through our PolioPlus initiative and to generate a sustainable benefit on a global scale. President Riseley encouraged us to work for environmental sustainability in the same vein and asked every RC to plant at least one tree for each member to shoulder greater responsibility to the planet.

 The third strategic priority is “to enhance Rotary’s public image and awareness”. By tapping into various communication tools, including IT, we can disseminate information on what Rotary stands for and what we do in a more effective manner.

 I have set the keyword for this RY to be “Excitement and Harmony” with the belief that Rotary activities will be truly joyful as members unite to share the excitement. Rotary must also adapt to the changing environment while maintaining its basic principles and seek ways to work in harmony. As for our action guideline, I discussed with Past Governor Mr. Kamiyama and Governor Elect Mr. Matsuzaka to set practical “training” at the center for three successive years. I also call for active participation by member Rotarians to “implement” various initiatives.

 Now, let me share my life-changing experience in Rotary. Tokyo Shintoshin RC had applied for the Global Grant two years ago and secured 40,000 dollars this February to dig 200 wells in needy areas in Nepal, jointly with a RC in Katmandu. On May 19th, I joined a fact-finding mission with 9 member Rotarians who volunteered to visit a rural community in Chitwan. Katmandu seemed to be still on the long path to recovery after the devastating Earthquake in 2015, yet its urban infrastructure showed much improvement. On the other hand, roads to rural areas were very rough and we had to survive the bumpy journey for five and a half hours to reach Chitwan. Nearly 97% of the people in Nepal are Hindus and follow the caste system. Those who are born into the lowest caste of the social stratum are not allowed to use water from the wells within the community. They must walk 10 to 15 minutes down to the river and fetch water. We visited 5 wells funded by the Grant and observed first-hand how the wells have changed the lives of residents of all ages. Children were splashing about joyfully and teenage girls looked refreshed to wash their faces and hair with water. We also observed the actual drilling work that required strenuous physical labor as they do not use drilling machines.

 Our visit was reported by the Nepalese TV station and news agency. We could feel how welcomed we were by the people in Nepal. But I must say the challenging task starts here as we must ensure sustainable utilization of the wells together with the RC in Katmandu and BB Trust Foundation established by a successful Nepalese who is a Rotarian of Tokyo Shintoshin RC. As RI President rightly pointed out, our initiative in Nepal made us realize “it is not easy to dig a well but even more challenging to maintain it”. We are also planning to open a clinic to be run by local residents. I am deeply impressed by the success of the Sukusuku House project implemented by Tokyo RC in Kesennuma which engages local municipalities and NPOs, making it a truly sustainable service activity. Tokyo RC is a prestigious club with the longest history and all other RCs look up to you as a role model of service activities.

 I am determined to work hard as Governor and visit the remaining 64 RCs to share my belief and excitement as I did today. I will chair the Japan-Taiwan Goodwill Conference, held once every two years, to be convened in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on March 1st next year. Let me ask for your active participation. Thank you.