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Speech made by Minister Kojima on the occasion of the reception held for departing JET Programme participants
On 8 July 2004 Seiji Kojima, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Embassy, delivered a speech on behalf of Ambassador Masaki Orita at a reception held at the Embassy for this year's 486 new participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.
8 Jul 2004

Minister Kojima delivers a speech
Minister Kojima delivers a speech

Distinguished Guests and New Jet Participants,

First of all, I would like to welcome you all to the Embassy, ��׵aishikan he Yokoso�ߡ� I am delighted to be here with you.

The new Jet participants certainly must be tired after two intense orientation days with a heavy load of Japanese language lessons. ��װtsukaresamadeshita!�ߡ�For your information, I have been struggling with English for the last 40 years.

The Japanese language must seem difficult to you, but rest assured - some former Jet Programme participants became good Japanese speakers after a couple of years in Japan.

One out of every five Japanese language teachers in British schools is an ex-JET Programme participant. Please practise your Japanese language during your stay in Japan! It is good to bear in mind that you can achieve a great deal if you have the will to do so, and who knows, you may decide to come back and teach Japanese too.

I am sure that all the new JET Participants are excited and yet worried about going to a country in the Far East, a long way away from family and friends.

When you arrive in Japan, however, you will surely have quite a unique experience, and your worries will disappear. Many Japanese people, especially our students and yours, will welcome you warmly.

In Japan you will be able to see very beautiful scenery and enjoy nice food. Like in the UK, each local area has different specialities. You might be surprised at the variety of food to be found in Japan.

The Japanese transport system, devoid of strikes and delays is superb thanks to your help! This is because the very first driver of a Japanese train was a British man!

The Jet Programme is one of the most successful exchange programmes in the world. In total, over 8000 British people have joined this programme since 1987. This year we were able to recruit nearly 500 excellent young people.

My hope is that the new Jet participants will not only get to know Japan, but that they will also come to understand cultures and different ways of thinking at a much deeper level. I encourage you to make many Japanese friends. You will discover that, despite the geographical distance and differences in cultural background, there is a lot of common ground between Japan and the UK. We both respect our history and traditions, we have similar policy issues and we are both island nations.

Your experiences on the Jet Programme will surely help you enormously whichever way you may choose to go in your future. Please tell your British friends about your experiences and discoveries in Japan and please encourage them to visit and see the real Japan during your stay.

As some of you may know, we have launched the ��׷isit Japan Campaign�ߡ�in the UK. You will be in a unique position to support our campaign by sending us suggested recommendations to make foreign visitors' stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

It is my strong belief that the fundamental basis of strong ties between countries is people-to-people exchange. And here you will be playing a very important role in fostering better understanding between the peoples of our two countries.

At the same time, the Japanese Government is taking the promotion of English language education and international understanding education very seriously indeed. You will give your students good opportunities to come into contact with living English.

One warning. Some Japanese have a fairly deep knowledge on the English language through reading, for example, ��׵he Adventure of English-The Biography of a Language�ߡ�by TV presenter, Melvyn Bragg, which has been translated into Japanese recently.

You will also provide a real image of the UK as cultural ambassador and show that the UK does not only mean the Queen, Beckham and Harry Potter!

Lastly, I wish all new Jets and all other guests every success and all the best!

Thank you!

Related website: JET UK



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