SEIDO Students Host Japanese Consul-General
The Japanese Consul General from Calgary, Mr. Susumu Fukuda, visited Saskatoon on June 12th and 13th, 2013 at the invitation of the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) and the University of Saskatchewan.
Carolyn Aziz, a SEIDO Student Officer, worked with the SEIDO Program Coordinator Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos to receive the consul-general as part of the program’s “Visiting Consul-General Series” and arrange his itinerary with help from the Japanese consulate-general’s protocol section in Calgary. The two days included meetings they arranged with several industry and governmental leaders, as well as time at the university and a recreational boat tour of Saskatoon.
The consul general’s first day began with Tim LeClair, CEO of Saskatchewan Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA). LeClair spoke about the C-11 conference, which represents the top 11 cities in Canada driving foreign direct investment. Members from the cities will tour Asia, including Japan, to foster investment opportunities. That same afternoon, Tom Kishchuk, president of Hitachi Saskatoon, and Fukuda discussed twinning Saskatoon to a Japanese city. Kishchuk had already met with Mayor Atchison to speak of the matter, and Fukuda said he would meet with mayors in a few regions to further explore the idea. The consul general then headed to the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce where he met with current and past-presidents, Kent Smith-Windsor and Monica Kreuger, to talk about attracting Japanese investors to Saskatoon.
The following day, SEIDO students ushered Fukuda to their next scheduled meeting with Cameco executives to discuss the current public and political opinions on nuclear energy in Japan. “Attitudes to decrease the use of nuclear power were strong after Fukushima, but if we were to switch to other energy types it would take a long time for Japan to recover since a majority of energy used in the country is through nuclear,” the consul general said. “While Japan is also looking into non-conventional energy, green technologies, and electricity storage, at present and in the near future uranium power will remain a vital part of our energy source. For this Saskatchewan is a welcome trade partner.”
The next day’s meetings included Ag-West Bio, the province’s bioeconomy catalyst; the Japanese Association of Saskatoon; and several departments at the University of Saskatchewan. Fukuda met with the director of the U of S Language Centre, Professor and Researcher Pierre Hucl, and the U of S Industry Liaison Office. Fukuda also met with U of S President Ilene Busch-Vishniak and Graham Scoles, associate dean of research and graduate studies in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. They spoke of research collaborations between the U of S and Japan.
While on campus, the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program arranged for Fukuda to meet with UofS students to discuss Saskatchewan-Japan bilateral relations. The consul-general emphasized how Japan is interested in future partnerships with Saskatchewan directly, based on the 3 Fs: food, fuel and fertilizer. Currently the trade between the province and Japan is worth 1.3 billion dollars but could be significantly higher through more effort and initiatives. “While Japan has suffered a series of economic troubles, it is still an economic player with no change in its energy needs when it comes to its industries, manufacturing,” he said. Our people still have consumer interest in Canadian foods and products, which Saskatchewan can adequately source, and we still have the disposable income to import these goods.” One such example Fukuda provided was the recent opening of Japanese markets to Saskatchewan calves of 30 months, which will double beef trade between the province and his country from $70 million to approximately $150 million.
Also, between Japan and Canada, there have been 27 years of technological and scientific cooperation in nanotechnology, medicine, space, and natural disaster and climate issues. Furthering the relationship between Canada and Japan, the Japanese would like to encourage ties between business communities, as well as tourism.
Fukuda was pleased with his visit to Saskatoon. “It was very good,” he said. “The students of this special program [SEIDO] handled everything, and the tight scheduling was nice with its organization and meaningful meetings. These host students were most professional and truly showcased Saskatchewan with their industry knowledge and connections.” Fukuda added, “They will make great diplomats if ever choosing a future career in foreign service.”
* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).
The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.