Every now and then I hear someone asking if the Japanese government and its diplomatic representatives in Canada have any interest in Japanese Canadians. I am astonished this is ever asked. I have been involved in the Japanese and Japanese Canadian community in Vancouver for more than twenty years and I have had many opportunities to observe the active, positive role the Japanese Consulate plays in those communities here. It starts with the person at the top, the Consul-General. The most recent one, Consul-General Ito, is a wonderful man who dedicated himself to connecting with as many individuals and community groups as time would allow during his three-year term in Vancouver.
Something which may not be known to many Japanese Canadians is an event which takes place once a year in different locations in Canada. It is the annual meeting of the Japanese Ambassador and the Consul-Generals in Canada. This year the meeting took place in Vancouver on October 3rd and 4th. As one would expect, much of what they discuss is closed to the public. But they open up their meeting to representatives of the Japanese Canadian community to gain knowledge on local activities and concerns found in their respective communities. Mieko Amano and I were privileged to represent the GVJCCA. The following were the other representatives in attendance: Hitomi Suzuta, President of the Ottawa Japanese Community Association; Kumiko Lucy Yamashita, President of the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre; Gary Kawaguchi, President of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto; and Alan Itakura, President of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal.
It was useful for us to share knowledge and concerns about our respective communities. Much of what was reported showed that we have many things in common. The main point of divergence can be attributed to demographics. The smaller the community, the closer knit the community is. In the case of the two biggest centres, Toronto and Vancouver, we are so much greater in numbers that it is not easy for us to have a closely knit community. I suppose a popular Japanese expression, shikata ga nai (“that’s the way it goes”), applies to this situation. But it was Gary Kawaguchi who urged all the Nikkei organizations found in Canada and the United States to strive for cooperation and mutual support. This was met with strong approval by the Japanese diplomats in attendance. It may be very difficult to fully achieve this grand vision, but I do not think we should give up on it either. We can look near at hand for signs that it can be achieved. There are already many examples of cooperation and support of local Japanese Canadian organizations. We just need to build on them.
In keeping with the theme of cooperation and support, I am pleased to announce that we are holding our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Nikkei Centre on Friday, November 16th at 6:30pm. We are grateful to all the volunteers who have contributed to GVJCCA. Please come and join us at the Nikkei Centre on November 16th so we can show our appreciation for your selfless efforts and hard work on behalf of the JCCA, The Bulletin and the Vancouver Nikkei community.