The catastrophe that struck Japan on March 11 has of course had serious consequences for Japan, its society and its industry. But after having been in Tokyo a couple of days now, I am struck by the positive attitudes I encounter, both among the Japanese themselves and in the foreign community. What happened was frightening, to say the least, but natural disasters are not new to Japan and the readiness to meet them is improved day by day. Life in Tokyo is back to normal, and in the disaster areas the difficulties are dealt with in a rational and forward-looking way. Sweden is also doing what it can to assist, and when I say Sweden I do not only mean our government authorities, but also our industry. For instance, the Swedish company Brokk, based in Skellefteå, was very quick in delivering industrial robots that could enter the nuclear power plants in Fukushima and do important work humans had to abstain from. The Embassy has also cooperated with Swedish house makers in exploring the needs in north-eastern Japan.
When one is transferred to a new post there are always a number of practical things to take care of and a great many new people to introduce oneself to. Yesterday I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to introduce myself to key officials there and this morning I gave a speech at the local SNS chapter (Centre for Business and Policy Studies). Since I have just finished a five year long posting in Seoul, I spoke on issues concerning the Korean peninsula, but also introduced my views on how the Embassy can cooperate with the Swedish business community and other Swedes in the country in order to increase our presence here and find ways to cooperate with Japan in the best way possible.
I would like the Embassy to be as open and accessible as possible and we have good facilities to make that possible. The Embassy building is an excellent facility with a large exhibition area and an auditorium which can accommodate some one hundred visitors. In many ways our Embassy in Tokyo already functions as the well-known House of Sweden in Washington D.C. But we can do more. Already it is a landmark that all the taxi drivers are well aware of.
Well … almost all.