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Speech made by Ambassador Orita on the occasion of the bestowal of the Ambassador's Commendation on Mrs Jean Goodwin

24 Mar 04
Ambassador Orita with Mrs Jean Goodwin and her husband

The Ambassador's Commendations were introduced in 2000 in order to recognise the contributions of those who had made outstanding efforts to promote grassroots exchange between the UK and Japan.

Mrs Goodwin, Mr Goodwin, and dear guests,

Thank you all for coming to the Embassy. We are here this afternoon to honour the valuable contribution of Mrs Jean Goodwin to friendship between Japan and the United Kingdom.

In the long history of our relations, many Japanese have come to Britain, stayed for a while and then made their way home to Japan. There have also been those who adopted the United Kingdom as their second home and passed away here, far away from their native land. The Japanese Cemetery in Hendon was established in 1936 to offer those people an eternal resting place.

On October 4 th last year, the Japanese Residents' Association organised a memorial ceremony at the Japanese Cemetery. My wife and I were honoured to participate in that event, together with many of you in this room today. It was a really moving experience, and I would like once again to thank Mr Hirakubo, President of the JRA, and Mr. Fukutome for organising that memorable occasion.

The Cemetery seemed to be in excellent condition and looked so peaceful: a truly apt setting for those Japanese people in repose there. For this we owe Mrs Goodwin a great deal. From 1975 until the end of 2003, at the request of the Embassy of Japan, Mrs Goodwin tirelessly devoted herself to maintaining the Japanese Cemetery. We are grateful, Mrs Goodwin, for your contribution over the years and we salute you today.

I would like to refer to Mr Goodwin as well, and by doing so to revisit the history of the Japanese Cemetery after the Second World War. The presence of the Japanese community in the United Kingdom having been disrupted by the outbreak of the War, the Cemetery lay virtually abandoned for a long time after hostilities ceased. Mr Goodwin, who worked at the Hendon Cemetery Office and lived there with his family, took good care of the Japanese Cemetery until his retirement. Mr Goodwin, we pay tribute to you, too.

We all know that the elder brother of Mrs Goodwin was at the Burma Front during the Second World War and lost his life there. He is at rest in the British Military Cemetery in Rangoon. Mr Hirakubo also fought at the Burma Front, facing great danger. Since the War, he has been working hard to promote reconciliation between Japan and the United Kingdom. In fact, he has just returned from a trip to Kohima and Imphal, where a group of Japanese and British veterans jointly held ceremony of remembrance for the victims of the War. Our respect goes to your late brother, Mrs Goodwin, and to you, Mr Hirakubo.

Today, Japan and the United Kingdom enjoy strong ties of friendship and cooperation. We should not forget, though, the paths ? sometimes happy, sometimes painful ? that previous generations had to tread. We have to work together even harder in the future to build on what they have achieved.

With this determination in mind, I now bestow the Ambassador's Commendation on Mrs Jean Goodwin.






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