Table Speech

President’s Address

July 1, 2020

Mr. Michio Hamaguchi
President, Rotary Club of Tokyo

 I am excited to launch RY 2020-2021 after an unprecedented 4-month suspension of our Regular Meetings. Following my predecessors, let me introduce myself by sharing my brief history as a Rotarian. I joined Tokyo RC as far back as in 1976 which makes me one of the oldest members. I have served several duties in all these years, including the Club Secretary, Directors of Club Service, Vocational Service, Membership and International Service, SAA, as well as District Assistant Secretary. I am humbled to serve as President for this memorable year when our Club will celebrate its Centennial Anniversary. I will strive to serve you all who are prominent representatives in every walk of life.

 We scheduled to celebrate our Centennial Anniversary in 2020, this glorious year when Tokyo was to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To our great disappointment, however, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the whole picture. Now the Games are postponed and our activities have become subject to a number of restrictions. Tokyo RC continued to hold the Regular Meetings even when Japan was fighting the Pacific War changing its name to Wednesday Club, yet COVID-19 has put us in an unprecedented situation where we were forced to suspend the Regular Meetings for four months. On top of that, we could not convene the Board Meetings where the Directors jointly supervise and manage our Club activities. As we approached the end of RY 2019-2020, there was an urgent necessity to hold a joint Meeting with the outgoing and incoming Members of the Board to discuss the plan ahead and to ensure a smooth transition of business to the new RY. We held this important Meeting on June 10th by connecting about 30 Directors online for the first time. I must confess when our younger members had proposed to have an online meeting, I was not sure if all the Board Members were digitally literate enough to join. Despite my worries, however, I was relieved and impressed to see how smoothly the online Meeting went with actually a higher attendance rate marked than our face-to-face Meeting. I was moved to see familiar faces of our Board Members displayed on my computer screen and came to realize how drastically our lives have changed, triggered by the abrupt outbreak of COVID-19.

 Extensive discussions unfold regarding how best we, as an individual and as a company, can adapt to the post COVID-19 new normal life. I believe Rotary is no exception and we must be open to a broad range of opinions and suggestions to ensure diversity in our ever-changing world. I think it is no coincidence that our new RI President Mr. Holger Knaack from Germany stated at the International Assembly held in San Diego on 20 January that “for many young people, sitting down for a meal together is not the best way to meet. Just because we have held Meetings this way for over 100 years doesn’t mean it is the only way. My wife’s club, for example, is a local e-club. They meet online once a week, communicating on a smartphone app, and they meet in person once a month.” Here in Japan, we also have 11 e-clubs where members communicate via website and hold Regular Meetings online. I am sure the majority of clubs will follow the traditional way of activities, yet RI must be flexible enough to put all options on the table to seek how best Rotary can adapt to the post-pandemic world.

 Having said that, Tokyo RC has the longest history in Japan. We cannot and should not make drastic changes to our time-tested traditional way of club management. I would rather elaborate on different options, together with our member Rotarians, in case the second or third wave of COVID-19 hits and we are again forced to suspend our Meetings. The unexpected 4-month suspension of our activities made me realize the importance of human interaction and relationships. I believe RI has long worked to connect people and thus succeeded in expanding and solidifying its foundation. Sharing the same belief, I have set the Club Theme for RY 2020-2021 to be “Feeling Connected.” I hope Rotary activities make us feel and appreciate our connection and engagement of like-minded members. It is the duty of Board Members to create opportunities to make you feel connected. This year will be exceptional as we will have our milestone Centennial Anniversary. Although we had to revise our invitation list and limit attendees to our members, I sincerely hope you can deepen friendship and enjoy connections by attending the Anniversary Party. Let me conclude my speech by asking for your continued support and understanding throughout this RY. Thank you.

Secretary’s Address

July 1, 2020

Mr. Seiichiro Asakawa
Secretary, Rotary Club of Tokyo

 At the outset, let me express my sincere gratitude to our past Secretary Mr. Hayashi and my fellow Assistant Secretary Mr. Shiroyama for their guidance and support during the last RY when we had to overcome a number of challenges to ensure smooth Club management in an unprecedented situation. For this RY, I am determined to support our new President Mr. Hamaguchi together with Assistant Secretaries Mr. Kokubu and Mr. Mikoda as well as Directors, Chairmen and Officers to make our milestone Centennial Anniversary a successful one.

 I joined Tokyo RC in 2007 when I was in my 30s. I recall how nervous I was to be among many prominent members, including my two sponsors I deeply respect, who had contributed greatly for the development of this Club. Following the Rotary slogan to “turn acquaintances into friends,” I have truly enjoyed my Club life as I made many friends of all ages and from different backgrounds through meetings, events and activities both within Japan and in other countries. I also learned the importance and joy of engaging myself in “service activities” and “social contribution.” I am determined to render my service as Secretary in this monumental year with your generous support.

 President Hamaguchi has set our Club theme for this RY to be “Feeling Connected”. Unfortunately, the spread of novel coronavirus has put restrictions on our meetings and social gatherings. As such, our theme to cherish connections we have long established among our members and society is more relevant than ever before.

 Our Centennial slogan “By Recalling Our Past, We Can See Our Future. PARTICIPATE!” also holds great significance at this time of uncertainty. While the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is gradually easing restrictions on business operations, I understand some of you may feel anxious about participating in meetings and activities. In our long 100-year history, Tokyo RC has always taken flexible measures faced with adversity, even in wartime, and handed down our core values of fellowship and service. We will place utmost priority on the safety of our members and ensure our meetings, events and activities are organized with all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. I hope you can “feel connected” by joining our Regular Meetings and the Centennial Anniversary Meeting and Party. We will also tap into the latest technology to provide on-line meetings and set up a dedicated website for our members.

 Before I close my speech, let me seek your kind assistance regarding membership development so that our Club can set out on a journey to prosperity and development as we go beyond the centennial milestone. Your continued support will be greatly appreciated to implement a number of projects which have a positive impact throughout the world, such as the Yoneyama Memorial Scholarship and the PolioPlus Program. Let us all make this RY successful and memorable for Tokyo RC which has the longest history in Japan.