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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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).