|Geoffrey Hamilton with his family and Ambassador & Madame Nogami
Mr Hamilton, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend a cordial welcome to you all this evening. We are here this evening to bestow upon Mr Geoffrey Hamilton a well-deserved decoration in recognition of his devotion to the introduction of Japanese culture to people in other countries and to the promotion of business relations between Japan and the United Kingdom.
It is interesting to contemplate how people become attracted to something. Sometimes it is pure chance that makes one's life totally different. From Japan's perspective, Mr Hamilton's encounter with a book on Judo, in the early 1950s, in an army barracks in Bermuda, proved to be a very fortunate quirk of fate. This accidental, or shall I say providential, encounter led the young Mr Hamilton to Japan a few years later, where he would stay for the following quarter-century.
When Mr Hamilton returned to the UK in 1981, after heading the Tokyo office of the British Tourist Authority, Britain in general and Wales in particular were redoubling their efforts to promote foreign direct investment. At the Welsh Development Agency, he played a pivotal role in attracting Japanese manufacturers in Wales, drawing upon the friendship and networks he had cultivated in Japan. With his deep insight into the Japanese language and culture combined with his attentiveness to the needs of the incoming firms and their personnel, he won the hearts and minds of the emerging Japanese business community in Wales.
As a result of Mr Hamilton's tireless efforts, the number of Japanese companies operating in Wales multiplied from 8 to 45 during his fourteen years at the Welsh Development Agency. I am delighted to note that, over the years, those companies have become an integral part of the Welsh economy and the Welsh community. When my wife and I visited Cardiff a couple of weeks ago, we were touched by the friendship shown to us and impressed by the depth of mutual trust between Japanese companies and the Welsh people.
Although Mr Hamilton's business accomplishments are impressive, we should not overlook his contributions in the wider perspective. Not only did he attain the rank of black belt in Judo , Kendo and Aikido himself, but he authored and translated a series of books on the Japanese martial arts, which focused not merely on techniques but also on the importance of spirituality. He also brought Judo to a world-wide audience through his enthusiastic BBC commentaries, when it became an Olympic sport for the first time at the Tokyo Games in 1964.
To sum up, Mr Hamilton has made a significant contribution to developing mutual understanding and promoting business relations between Japan and the United Kingdom. His encounter with Japan may have been by chance, but it was his deliberate effort to be a bridge between the two cultures that led to his achievements. Thus, on behalf of His Majesty The Emperor Of Japan, I take great pleasure in conferring upon Mr Geoffrey Hamilton the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.