13 Oct 2017
30th March 2017
JETAAUK Speech at 30th Anniversary Event
More than 200 guests from all areas of the Anglo–Japanese community, including government, business, universities, organisations and JET alumni attended a reception hosted by the British–Japanese Parliamentary Group at the Houses of Parliament on 16th March, 2017.
At the event, JETAAUK Chair Sarah Parsons made the following speech.
Thank you Roger and thank you Ambassador Tsuruoka.
On behalf of the JET Alumni Association UK, I would like to thank the Japanese Government for giving over 10,000 British graduates the opportunity to experience Japan on a grassroots level and also to play a part in its internationalisation over the last 30 years.
In a world with a growing number of barriers, the fact that we are here celebrating a government-sponsored programme that increases genuine openness and cultural exchange is a great achievement, and I would to thank everyone here who has come to celebrate that with us.
I would also like to thank our hosts, the BJPG and Alethea, who have worked tirelessly to organise this alongside myself and Keith Kelly, Treasurer of JETAA UK. Thank you to our wonderful musicians from the London Okinawa Sanshinkai, featuring JET alumni. It is a fantastic example of how the JET experience leads to cultural exchange. Thank you to Sake Samurai who have arranged something a bit special after the speeches and are providing sake from different regions of Japan for us.
I’d also like to thank Sue Hudson from Fujisankei Communications who has supported me with PR. Sue incidentally was on one of the pre-JET programmes, the Wolfers scheme—initiated by Nicolas Maclean—which is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year: another great achievement.
Anyway, back to JET and our alumni, because this event is really about celebrating 30 years of JET Programme alumni. And there’s lots of us here tonight. JET had such a profound effect on our lives and when you network and speak to us you’ll see many of us have carried on our Japan links either professionally, socially, culturally or through volunteering for JETAA. Like myself, many alumni work to further the economic links between our two countries.
There are literally JET alumni in every corner of UK–Japan related organisations, businesses, academia, education, travel industry, media, the diplomatic service and government. Given that Japan is currently one of the most important trade partners to the UK, JET alumni have had a huge part to play in this and will continue to do so.
JETAAUK is the voluntary organisation that brings our network together. We support our members in helping to carry on these links, with professional networking events, career advice, Japanese language events, social meetups linking with Japanese communities and festivals around the UK.
We have good relationships with Japan-related organisations, businesses and universities—many of whom are here tonight—and I thank you all for your support and apologise I can’t list you all by name. However this is testament to the reach of the Alumni Association in the UK.
We wouldn’t be able to do any of these activities without the support of the Japan Local Government Centre (CLAIR) London and also the Embassy of Japan in the UK so I’d like to say thank you to them too.
However, I’m saving the biggest thanks for last and that is for the JETAA volunteers: the people who organise the events, attend the meetings, network with other organisations and create opportunities not just for our alumni to give something back but also to create opportunities so other organisations can benefit from this fantastic network of people. I can see faces from over 20 years ago here tonight.
We welcome more alumni and more organisations becoming involved in the activities of JETAAUK.