Table Speech

President’s Final Address for RY 2019-2020

June 24, 2020

Mr. Koichi Takenaka
2019-20 President of Tokyo RC

 I recall the first Regular Meeting for RY 2019-2020 held on July 3rd last year when I hit the gavel handed down from the past President Mr. Yamamoto. I must say no one could have imagined the situation we were thrown into during the latter half of this RY.

 As we look back, we carried out a number of projects, activities and events throughout the year under the theme “Rotary Connects the World” set by RI President Mr. Mark Daniel Maloney. Our Centennial Slogan “By Recalling Our Past, We Can See Our Future. PARTICPATE!” resonates with the fundamental values of Rotary where we cherish new encounters, exchange of views and connections. In the same spirit, I have set our Club theme for this RY to be “The Chance to Meet & Connect”. When Governor Niimoto of District 2580 made his Official Visit, he was impressed to find our Centennial Slogan represented the vision Mr. Paul Harris had set forth as he founded Rotary. He also expected our Club to trail blaze new directions for other Clubs across the country as we look ahead beyond our centenary.

 Last September marked the 50th anniversary of Yoneyama Umekichi Memorial Hall that exhibits documents and materials of the great achievements made by the founder of Rotary in Japan. Our members attended the grand ceremony and made a donation of 20 million yen funded as a Centennial Anniversary Commemorate Project. Rotary Yoneyama Scholarships were initiated by Tokyo RC with the goal to exemplify our commitment not to repeat the tragic errors of war and to foster understanding on “peaceful Japan” throughout the world. We sincerely hope scholars who have studied in Japan will promote mutual understanding and contribute to world peace and harmony.

 Our member Rotarian Mr. Mizuno made a keynote speech “Rotary Activities and Olympic Legacy” at the Chou Sub-district Intercity Meeting last November. The District Convention was held in Okinawa on 12th and 13th February where 24 member Rotarians participated together with a few family members. We were deeply impressed by a passionate speech made by a renowned Head of Urasenke (one of the schools of Japanese tea ceremony) on behalf of RI President. This 97-year-old speaker encouraged “each member to pursue one’s vocational commitment in a conscientious manner and take actions to make the world more peaceful and harmonious” in his 50-minute speech. A week after the Convention, we held the Commemorative Meeting and Family Party to celebrate the 115th Anniversary of RI. Sadly, the Regular Meeting on 26th February was the last one held for this RY because the spread of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and the subsequent State of Emergency Declaration forced us to cancel all the meetings and gatherings. The Secretariat staff had to work from home and it was only in June when we managed to hold the first on-line Board Meeting. Rotary projects and programs have centered around organizing meetings, learning from table speeches and contributing to society through our service activities. There is no doubt COVID-19 will transform our life in the long run and we must revisit how best we can implement our activities in the future, especially our Regular Meetings and family parties.

 Tokyo RC will celebrate its 100th year milestone in October. Under the leadership of the Centennial Anniversary Committee established in RY 2014, so many Rotarians have rendered support and cooperation for its preparation and we were at the final stage. To our great disappointment, however, the outbreak of COVID-19 made us decide to limit attendees to member Rotarians and cancel invitations to guests from both within Japan and from other countries, including RI President, our Twin Club Washington D.C. RC and our Sister Club Ardmore RC.

 RY 2020-2021 will be the final year for our decade-long Tohoku Sukusuku Project implemented by the Challenge 100 Committee. Tokyo RC has provided various support activities to mothers and children in Rikuzen-takata, Kesennuma, Higashi-matsushima and Namie-machi that had suffered devastating damages by the Great East Japan Earthquake. We plan to have a commemorative event to wrap up our initiative.  Humans have a long history of fighting against viral infections. The famous Sumida River Fireworks Festival, which is cancelled this year due to COVID-19, actually dates back to the Edo era when the eighth Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune held the first-ever festival to expel misfortunes of starvation and contagious diseases. Rotary has been playing an instrumental role in disease prevention and treatment, including its focus on polio eradication. The Rotary Foundation will most likely launch initiatives to fight against COVID-19. We have already set up a Tokyo RC Coronavirus Fund and will make effective use of the resources.

 In closing, let me express my sincere gratitude to Vice-President Mr. Yoshizawa, Secretary Mr. Hayashi, all the Directors, Committee Chairmen and Officers, Secretariat staff and each member Rotarian for your dedicated support and understanding throughout this RY.

Secretary’s Address

June 24, 2020

Mr. Katsumasa Hayashi
2019-20 Secretary of Tokyo RC

 At the outset, I wish to congratulate the re-start of our regular Meetings as we embark on a new RY with President Mr. Hamaguchi and Secretary Mr. Asakawa. Let me also express my sincere gratitude for your cooperation and understanding during the four-month closure of all our Meetings and gatherings during RY 2019-2020, due to the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). The world is faced with a serious crisis, as major cities have been put under lockdown on an unprecedented scale. In Japan, the infection first took a toll on the passengers and crew onboard a cruise ship in February. By mid-March, the government issued an instruction asking the public to stay at home and to avoid 3 Cs (Closed spaces, Crowded spaces, and Close-contact settings), followed by the State of Emergency Declaration issued on 8th April. In light of this extraordinary situation, our Board Members and Secretariat staff worked in close collaboration to ensure smooth operation based on the rules set forth by RI as well as our Club bylaws. We also had to get the Board Members vote and approve changes to the existing rules and regulations so as to accommodate ourselves to the new conditions, including resolutions on the closure of regular Meetings and remote work of Secretariat staff. Please refer to the Tokyo Weekly for details.

 Now, let me briefly go over our activities during RY 2019-2020 with some figures. Firstly, our membership started with 337 last July and totaled 334 at the end of June to mark a net decrease of 3. Due to the four-month closure of our regular Meetings from March to June, there are actually 10 candidates waiting to be approved as new members at this moment. I am sure the upcoming RY will be even more active, thanks to your cooperation in introducing new members and the leadership exerted by Directors and Officers in charge of membership development. Secondly, we welcomed on average 14.0 visitors (13.5 within Japan and 0.5 from overseas) and 3.2 guests per regular Meeting. My special thanks go to Directors and Committee Chairmen of Club Service, Fellowship and International Service who went out of their way to make our visitors and guests feel well-received. As for the Yoneyama Scholar, we sponsored Mr. Yikelamu Alifu for the second year who attended our Meetings and events with his wife and young son. We are happy to welcome a new Yoneyama Scholar Ms. Oh Keiso from this April.

 We all had an enjoyable and eventful year, including the Christmas Family Party, New Year’s Regular Meeting Concert, Study Tours and Birthday Parties, thanks to the Officers in charge of Fellowship, Vocational Service and Social Service Committees. We could deepen our understanding on a variety of topics through insightful table speeches and let me apologize to Officers of the Program Committee for the confusion and cancellation that resulted from the four-month closure. I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to all the Board Members, Committee Chairmen and Officers as well as Officers of RI District 2580 for your dedicated services that made our year a memorable and fruitful one.

 Unfortunately, we again suffered serious damages inflicted by a number of natural disasters during RY 2019-2020, including Typhoon Faxai last September and Typhoon Hagibis in October that made the government revise its disaster management standard for river dikes. Tokyo RC made donations for relief assistance through RI District 2580. We also collaborated with other clubs in RI District 2580 and donated in total 20 million yen to rebuild the World Heritage-listed Shuri Castle in Okinawa that had burned down last October.

 We ended RY 2019-2020 with a surplus of 21.7 million yen, mainly due to the generous arrangement made by the Imperial Hotel where we have our regular Meetings and gatherings for not charging any cancellation fees during the four-month closure. Please refer to Tokyo Weekly for details on the proposal of how to utilize this surplus, including the establishment of a Tokyo RC COVID-19 Fund.

 Before I close my greetings, I would like to thank President Takenaka for his guidance and leadership. I learned so much about Rotary and the role as a leader from his thoughtful and warm-hearted personality. Without the dedicated support and cooperation by all the Board Directors, Committee Chairmen, Assistant Secretaries, staff of the Secretariat as well as those who ensure the smooth operation of our regular Meetings, I could not have completed my duty as a Secretary. Now, I shall hand over the baton to our new Secretary Mr. Asakawa. Thank you very much.