What 32 nations signed the last two days in Tokyo

Over a month has passed since the Tokyo Conference 2016 was concluded. The results have been reported both to our Swedish alumni and to the Embassy of Japan in Stockholm. 32 countries managed to formulate and sign a Joint Statement that was handed in to the Japanese Government on the last day.

(this post is a continuation on “Tokyo Conference – first two days”)

Day 3: Full day of Official Government Visits and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)

This day was in a way the peak of the conference. All thirty-two national representatives had prepared a short three minute country presentation, got dressed up in their best formal or national costumes and were taken by bus to downtown Tokyo to report back to the institution funding this exchange experience – the Japanese Government. The meeting was extremely well organised. A square sitting table with each countries national flag and delegates place cards in alphabetical order made us feel like VIP international guests.
The delegates passing the security at Government building no. 8 for the formal report session on day 3 of Tokyo conference 2016. Almudena Ramos (Spain) to the left, followed by Louis Beauregard (Canada) and Augustine Bartning (USA) to the right.

The delegates passing the security at Government building no. 8 for the formal report session on day 3 of Tokyo conference 2016. Almudena Ramos (Spain) to the left, followed by Louis Beauregard (Canada) and Augustine Bartning (USA) to the right. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

Our hosts not only gave us updated news regarding the programme but also took the time to comment on our short reports, which gave the formal air a personal touch of appreciation. At around 2 pm we made a break for the Official Courtesy Call when the Parlimentary Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office, Mr. Hirohisa Takagi, arrived to greet us and shake hands with each representative.
The official photo of all the 32 delegates at the government visit in Tokyo. Photo credit: SWYAA International

The official photo of all the 32 delegates at the government visit in Tokyo. Photo credit: SWYAA International

We then moved to a another nearby Government building housing the politicians and staff working for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which are the current party in power in Japan. This is also the party that has had a long-term commitment to funding the programme that nowadays is named Ship for World Youth Leaders (SWYL) but is other referred to as “SWY” due to it’s original name.
Mr. Hideki Makihara, currently the Director of the Youth Division is an experienced politician that have had several important government missions in the past. He was very welcoming, greeting everyone and then asking for a round on personal introductions by all representatives. Then we had a chance to ask questions on his and his parties views on youth policy and the discussions were very interesting, to the point that the admin had to break us off, in order to stick to the schedule. After a quick official photo in the adjacent room, Mr. Makihara had to leave due to other engagements, but did leave us with some laughs by outing some personal preferences on global political issues on the way out. (For details, please contact Augustine Bartning, the representative of SWYAA USA.)
Poster collecting ideas and input on which topics are the most suitable for Course Discussion onboard the SWY-programme. The workshop was late but still productive. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

Poster collecting ideas and input on which topics are the most suitable for Course Discussion onboard the SWY-programme. The workshop was late but still productive. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

After this long and eventful day, most of the delegates still mustered up the energy to squeeze in an evening workshop back at the Centrye Office. Dispite the long day, our groups, together with the excellent organisation of the volunteering JPY’s, managed to write down quite a few insights and ideas to further and improve the international association and the implementation of upcoming SWY-programmes.

Day 4: Wrap up, signatures, fundraiser auction and farewell

The last day of the conference was a full day of work at the Centerye Office again – but with a fabulous finish and great send-off. We continued to finalise the content and phrasing in the Joint Statement as well as going through a number of motions regarding membership countries, fees and organisation of upcoming initiatives and future priorities within the international association. One of the resulting decisions was to form a review committee for the SWYAA International Charter, in which Sweden was chosen to represent the european countries.

The amazingly talented Tamae Saito, Secretary General of SWYAA International keeping the delegates in check and making sure we stick to the schedule.

The amazingly talented Tamae Saito, Secretary General of SWYAA International keeping the delegates in check and making sure we stick to the schedule.

Once the negotiations and discussions were being wrapped up, the charity auction was set up in the back of the room – with a surprising number of items from all around the globe. Lists with silent auctions made the afternoon increasingly intriguing as highly sought after items evoked some competitive bidding. But this was nothing compared to the live auction that followed.

The Charity Auction featured a diversity of exotic items from all around the globe - including artisan made organic olive oil from Spain. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

The Charity Auction featured a diversity of exotic items from all around the globe – including artisan made organic olive oil from Spain and spiritual figurines from India. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

The conference official work was concluded with authorisation of the minutes, signing of the Joint Statement and finally official hand-over of the same document to the Director for International Youth Exchange Affairs from the Office of the Director General for Policies on Cohesive Society of the Cabinet Office – mr. Hideki Uemura. You can read the entire pdf-document right here (Joint_Statement_final).

From serious meeting discussions to lively chats and laughter when the Farewell Dinner rounded off day 4 of the Tokyo Conference 2016. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

From serious meeting discussions to lively chats and laughter when the Farewell Dinner and Charity Auction rounded off day 4 of the Tokyo Conference 2016. In focus in the back is Jasem Alblooshi (UAE). Photo: Carolina Hawranek

At around five pm the meeting room was transformed to a mingle party as other ex-PY’s, volunteers, SWY-admins and other guests arrived to join the Farewell Dinner. A great buffet was complemented with the seemingly never-ending diverse sweets and snacks brought from all corners of the globe. This evening featured one of the most entertaining activities of the entire trip. The natural talent of an auctioneer – New Zealands own Arish Naresh – must have doubled the bids with his witty, comic and absolutely fabulous show in the live auction. The audience was laughing and opening their wallets at the same time.

The audience was not only entertained - but also very well motivated to join the bidding as the live auction raised almost 100 000 Japanese yen for disaster-struck Fiji. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

The audience was not only entertained – but also very well motivated to join the bidding as the live auction raised almost 100 000 Japanese yen for disaster-struck Fiji islands. Patricia López Cárdenas (Mexico), Augustine Bartning (USA) and Conor Houston (UK) applaud the show. Out of focus is also  Peter Ongera (Kenya) and Louis Beauregard (Canada). Photo: Carolina Hawranek

 

If I’m not mistaken the auction collected around 100 000 yen in Distaster Releif to the Fiji Islands just recently struck by a devastating tropical cyclone. In addition, I had the privilege to hand over SWYAA Sweden’s collected donation for the same cause – amounting to another 20 000 Japanese yen. Mr. Patrick Morgam, the representative from Fiji, was moved and thanked everyone for their generosity and support. We were also treated to a spontaneous performance of the Maori traditional dance Haka to thank and show appreciation to Tamae and the rest of the Conference organisers for their fenomenal work.

SWY ex-PY's performing the Maori Haka as a tribute to the Conference organisers.

Led by Arish Naresh (New Zealand) the SWY ex-PY’s performed the Maori Haka as a tribute to the admin and organisers. Hidden from view behind Arish is Sokoi Liavaa (Tonga) and to his right Chasmal Amaraweera (Sri Lanka). Photo: Carolina Hawranek

The rest of the last night in Tokyo was spend with old and new friends and the farewells were not that sad, as we all knew that our SWY family is strong and we will sooner or later have the chance to meet again. Next official occasion being the General Assembly in India (link to SWYAA India webpage).