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President’s Report, AJA AGM, August 28, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my 8th AGM report since I became President of the Australia Japan Association of SA, and I look back with pleasure and some pride on what we have achieved in that time. The committee and I wish to thank the members of AJA – and you who are present tonight represent them - who have loyally followed our lead, making whatever we have done over these years successful. This year has been quieter than the previous few, but it has been a productive and satisfying one. Soshite, minasan, Gokorosamadeshita!

The achievements of this year are as follows:

We have maintained a vibrant program of Conversation Meetings (20-30 have attended on average through the year) with special occasions celebrated, and a good relationship with the Caffe Amore, which reserves the back part of the café for all our meetings and provides us with a special menu.

The Fine dining Club, led by Mio Honda and Sue Treloar, has held a number of interesting and enjoyable dinners, ranging from Windy Point to the Henley Beach promenade. We have not had many other social events this year, but a few of us tried Karaoke and a kayaking picnic was very successful.

We have had continued success with our public events: the 6th Matsuri on Mobara is coming up, and we recently had the 5th Japanese Cultural Day. We are not a large association, but do well by working with others, like the Salisbury Council and the Burnside Library. We also participate annually in the OzAsia and Moon Lantern Festivals, and the Australia Day Parade. Last year we helped with the Worldbudokan tournament, which will be held again in 2014. All these events raise the profile of Japan and our links to it, and lead to firmer links with Japanese cultural performers, artists, musicians and crafts people in Adelaide; without them we could not have participated so well in such events.

We are also active beyond South Australia. Last November, Kazuko and I represented you at the NFAJS Conference in Melbourne, where I could proudly describe what AJA achieves in events and at a grass-roots level and learn what other societies were doing.

Strong, friendly relations with the Consulate in Melbourne have also been maintained, and it is great that Mr Sobashima is here just for our AGM. However, I must confess to an ulterior motive on my Melbourne visits: taking Consular staff to see Port Adelaide play AFL games at the MCG or Etihad Stadium! I plan to convert the whole of Japan in time.

Earlier this month, we hosted a Reception Dinner for 3 groups of students from Okayama Prefecture, celebrating 20 years of friendship with SA. The Okayama Kencho was most appreciative of our efforts.

I am lucky to have a really supportive committee; without them I could not act so effectively. I have more free time than most of them, but they attend meetings with a loyalty to AJA that heartens me. Despite the absence of Kyoko in Japan for so long -and you know how much she always contributes – the committee has worked very well in all events and meetings. Even Joe Jermey, who isn’t an official committee member until tonight, has already started working on our website. We didn’t need an election to determine the committee, so I am pleased to announce that Mio Honda, Sue Treloar, Sebastian Dyson, Joe Jermey, Tatsuhiko Sakai and I are your committee for 2013-14.

There is one official change that I must announce: we have a new AJA of SA post box. It is Box 333 PO Rundle Mall Adelaide SA 5000. The old Unley post box for some time had been too remote from any committee member, so we decided to make the change. Mail can still be addressed to my home, as has been the recent custom, but Box 333 will be checked a lot more often than before!

We have some goals and challenges in the year ahead:

We plan to revitalise the website – a role Joe is willing to undertake – and to make better use of social media to communicate our ideas and programs. Other committee members are much more Facebook and Twitter literate than I am!

As usual we will continue to develop new ideas for interesting meetings and extra activities

We hope to increase membership and keep numbers up at meetings, but in the meantime we will work to continue the achievements noted above with a smaller membership than a few years ago.

Another project is to bring more new talent onto the committee, and a first step is to actively encourage AJA members to attend committee meetings as observers and contributors.

Finally, I am looking for someone who is willing to overthrow the President, so that he can retire!

Thank you all for your attention.

Jim Stewart

President, AJA of SA


President’s Report, AJA AGM, August 22, 2012

After the tragic events of March last year, 2011-12 has been a quieter time for the Australia Japan Association of SA.  We have continued our usual program of Conversation Meetings at the Caffé Amore and participated in the four major cultural events which are now focal points in our year.   

The AJA of SA is a major partner in both the Burnside Japanese Cultural Day, which was held for the 4th time on July 21, and the Matsuri on Mobara at Mawson Lakes, which will run for the 5th time on October 28 this year.  Both events give us the opportunity to promote Japanese culture in the wider community and to build a sense of community among our members by working together and sharing our talents and interests.  Each year these events have been more and more successful.

Like other Asia-linked societies, the AJA of SA is an Ambassador of the increasingly popular OzAsia Festival, and we were proud that last September’s focus country was Japan.  The 2012 OzAsia Festival is the 6th, with India as the focus country, and we are supporting its program, encouraging attendance at events and participating in its Moon lantern Festival.  Our special guests tonight, Jacinta Thompson and Paola Niscioli, will tell you more about this iconic festival and its program.

As usual, we also participated in the Australia Day Parade on January 26, representing the Adelaide Japanese community, and held various other smaller events during the year.

AJA membership for 2011-12 was 66 financial and 2 life members.  Attendances at Conversation Meetings have unfortunately been lower in the past year, reflecting changed circumstances in Japan after the tsunami and the world economic slowdown.  Fewer Japanese students are in Adelaide, with those at Flinders University having a good social network there, and our numbers now average about 30 instead of 50 at regular meetings.  However, those who attend still enjoy the atmosphere of a friendly meeting at the Caffé Amore; Japanese visitors to Adelaide feel welcome at our meetings and often make good friends here.  The Caffé Amore management support us very well and much of our success is due to their cooperation.

This year’s committee has worked well, and the efforts of Kyoko Katayama, Mio Honda, Sue Treloar, Tatsuhiko Sakai and Sebastian Dyson have made my role as president an easier one.  In particular, I have really valued the extra work done by Kyoko and Mio on so many of our ventures, despite the pressure of other commitments.  Their organisational efforts have made many events even more successful on the day.   It is great, too, that all members have renominated for 2012-13.

Unfortunately, we have had to discontinue J-Talk this year, with too much needing to be done by too few available members, and a lack of sponsorship.  Special thanks must go to Kyoko, Keiko Sugai and Sebastian Dyson, and their helpers, who had kept the program going over the last couple of years.

The support of all members and friends of AJA has been appreciated by the committee.  While we work on your behalf to give our Association direction, without your contribution we can’t go far. So for the coming year we look forward to your continued support in small events and large.  Let’s make 2012-13 another good year for the Australia Japan Association of SA.

Jim Stewart


President’s Report, AJA AGM, August 10, 2011

At an Annual General Meeting we affirm who and what we are as an Association of people who celebrate the links of friendship, interest and goodwill between Australia and Japan.  In our program of events throughout the year we often take this for granted, and simply enjoy the occasions and events where we get together and achieve the everyday goals of meeting together.

On March 11 this year, however, we were confronted with the terrible earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan, and we had to become more than we had ever been before as the Australia Japan Association of SA.  There was suddenly a need to help Japan and to provide avenues by which we could do this. Consequently, we started fundraising both within our AJA group and in cooperation with other Japanese groups and the wider community, and these efforts began with a collection at the very next AJA meeting.  An early AJA highlight was the $7,000 raised by two collection days in the city, and our members organised or supported events like the Hafla Belly dance party, the Grace Emily Concert, the Ginza Dinner, and a Garage Sale, as well as the Condolence Ceremony and Matsuri dinner organised by the combined Japanese groups represented in the Japan Earthquake Appeal Committee.  I am aware that I haven’t mentioned every event, but can say the total raised so far by all groups that I know of is in excess of $40,000.

The crisis in Japan is ongoing, and we will continue to support those in need in the best way we can, as the opportunity to do so arises.  Meanwhile, in the coming year we will maintain our normal program of events, supplementing the conversation meetings with social and community events.  Many of these will have a fundraising component to further our support for Japan.

On a more normal front, we have strongly established our participation in four significant Japanese events now, the Matsuri on Mobara, the Burnside Japanese Cultural Day, the OzAsia Festival and the Australia Day Parade.  Even Japanese Garage Sales are part of our program!  A major and very successful innovation to Conversation Meetings has been a new Focus 505 Chiayo portable PA system, which is in use this evening.  The fact that we often get more than 50 people attending meetings twice a month has made this a communication necessity.

At this point, I want to thank all members and friends of the AJA of SA for the tremendous support they have given to our activities in the past year, especially the committee, who volunteer so much time.  We lost Nami Abe, Mayumi Hew, Yuka Miura and Yuki Akita earlier in the year to family or work commitments, but they still attend when they can. Tonight for similar reasons we will lose our energetic Public Officer, Steve Jordan, from the committee for a year or two. I thank him in particular, and will miss the strong support he has been over the last two or three years.  The new committee-elect are Kyoko Katayama, Sue Treloar, Mio Honda and myself all continuing on, with Tatsuhiko Sakai rejoining and Sebastian Dyson making his committee debut.  As our constitution allows for 10 members, I am pleased to declare these 6 people duly elected as your AJA of SA committee for 2011-12.

On this note, I will conclude my report, and I look forward to your continued support in the coming AJA of SA year.

Jim Stewart

August 10, 2011

Progress Report on AJA of SA response to the Japanese Earthquake Disaster     27-03-2011

The events and consequences of the earthquake and tsunami on Friday, March 11, are well known to you all, and even now, more than two weeks later, they are hard to believe, so destructive and tragic have they been.  However, we have not been idle even though it may seem so on the surface.  The committee, with other concerned members, has met on a number of occasions to consider our options in helping the disaster victims in Japan.   At the conversation meeting held the Wednesday after the earthquake, where a record 80+ people attended to hear news and offer support, $400 was raised in spontaneous and generous donations.  We have needed to decide what we can do by ourselves, with whom we can cooperate in bigger events or actions, how we can best use the resources of the AJA of SA now and in the future and what are our legal responsibilities in any public fund-raising we may undertake.

The results so far are that we have authority to collect donations for Japan in the name of the Australian Red Cross in a number of ways.  We are also promoting all genuine fund-raising efforts through our Bulletin and website (so please keep me informed, with as much notice as possible).   We are, of course, organising our own activities.

Three members of the AJA committee are also part of the Japan Earthquake Appeal Committee convened by Multicultural SA Chairman, Hieu Van Le, and now chaired by Hon. Consul-General Adam Wynn.  It is planning a Service of Condolence on Monday, April 11, a fund-raising Dinner and helping to coordinate some form of concert with the many artists who have volunteered their services.  We intend to support all events that we can, from okonomiyaki in Victoria Square to JAFA's Kodomo no Hi Festival.  Meanwhile the AJA of SA has already been raising funds in the City with two wonderfully supported collection days in the city, mainly in Rundle Mall, and will continue to do so with involvement in the Kimono Choir and the Harvest Dancers and other events as they develop.  Many social events, such as the AJA Golf Day will become fund-raisers, and we are considering another Garage Sale, and a special pizza night at Caffé Amore in the near future. 

In the longer term, because this crisis will not be over soon, our intention is to support more localised projects in the ravaged parts of Japan, and we will keep you informed about this.  For now, with greater knowledge of what is possible, we will support our families and friends in Japan in any way we can in this immediate emergency.  As President, I thank everyone in the AJA of SA for what they have done so far and for what I know they will continue to do.  Your efforts so far have been tremendous.  I also thank all others who are working with us or with the same objective in mind: let's help Japan as well as we can!

Below is a letter which I have sent to the Japanese Consul-General in Melbourne on your behalf.

Jim Stewart

Letter to the Consul-General concerning the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Consul-General, Melbourne

Dear Mr Kotake,

On behalf of the Australia Japan Association of SA I wish to extend to you and your staff the deepest sympathy and sorrow for your countrymen in Japan during the terrible events and their tragic consequences which have been unfolding there since Friday, March 11.

All members of our Association have ties to Japan and there has been an outpouring of concern and many offers to do something, anything, to be of assistance at this time.  There has also been a lot of worry and fear for family and friends whose whereabouts has been unknown, and a lot of comfort and support given to those feeling the stress.

Like many other groups, some who are not Japanese-related but simply wish to help in such a dreadful disaster, the AJA of SA has been working on ways in which we can raise money for the relief efforts in Japan, and trying to coordinate the many offers of help, donations of time, talent and money that our members and friends are making to us.  For now all proceeds will go to the Red Cross for use in Japan.

Over the last few years, in my capacity as President of the AJA of SA, I have made numerous friends in the Consulate in Melbourne, including yourself, and just as the AJA of SA is greatly concerned about the welfare and spirits of the Japanese nationals in our Association and elsewhere in our community, so I am concerned about all of my Consulate friends.  I sincerely hope that your families back in Japan are safe and well, and offer my prayers and wishes to strengthen you in any uncertainty and grief.

Mr Kevin Rudd said last week that Australians have a deep personal link to Japan through the many sister school and sister city relationships which have developed, especially over the last 20-30 years.  As a teacher involved in both links, I can assure you that very many Australians do genuinely care about what is happening in your so tragically beleaguered country.   Please reassure your people back home that they in our thoughts.  We wish them well and will continue to support them in the months and even years ahead.  We are sure that their indomitable spirit and wonderful work ethic will see them through this terrible time.

Yours faithfully,

Jim Stewart

President, AJA of SA Inc.


President’s Report, AJA AGM, August 11, 2010

The past year has been a time of change and consolidation for the AJA of SA.  Conversation meetings at the Caffé Amore have continued to be successful, with an average attendance of about 45 people.  Financial membership rose to 123 by the end of the year and AJA sponsored events were well attended.

Since the last AGM we have participated in the 2009 OzAsia Festival and been a major partner in the Salisbury Matsuri on Mobara.  Both were very successful and we are already preparing for our roles in the 2010 events.  Our second Japanese Cultural Day at Burnside Library was again a great occasion, enhanced by the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Doll Exhibition on at the same time.  AJA was able to secure this wonderful exhibition, which has travelled the world, for the Burnside Civic Centre Atrium.  AJA volunteers kept it open for the two weekends it was here.

Other regular events were our Christmas Dinner, a hanami picnic, a kimono night and a beach picnic, a dolphin cruise and a bowling tournament, parkland BBQs and five dinners at special interest restaurants organised by the new AJA Fine Dining Club.   Beach Volleyball continues to be popular, with two teams now playing, and a visit to Old Adelaide Gaol gave members a thrill!

As members of the AJA of SA you are all well aware of our activities, either by hearing of them or more often by participating in them. We have had many successful events, and I am proud as President of AJA to have represented you at numerous occasions during the past year, including meetings for Multicultural SA and the OzAsia Festival, Matsuri on Mobara and on a visit to the Japanese Consulate in Melbourne. 

The 2009-2010 executive has been Kyoko Katayama (Vice-president), Sue Treloar (Treasurer), Steve Jordan (Public Officer after being coopted) and myself (as Secretary, too).  The committee have been Mio Honda, Seiko Fuse, Yoko Sato, Nami Abe, Mayumi Hew and Mikhael Crossfield, until he went to Japan.  Yuki Akita rejoined the committee after returning to Adelaide to work.  At this AGM we are losing Seiko and Yoko to Japan, and Nami to work commitments.  They will be greatly missed, as they have been active members, and we hope they can return to us in the future.  The role and efforts of all committee members have been very important in all of our achievements.  They work hard behind the scenes, attend extra meetings and take on responsibilities which require a sacrifice of their own time.  I sincerely thank them for the tremendous support they have given AJA.

An AJA sub-committee has been working on our website and new ways to communicate information more effectively to our members, and this will continue.  Another sub-committee has been reviewing our Constitution.  We want to bring it up to date, and hope to table any changes at a general meeting next February or March.  The different election procedures for this AGM are an example of our better understanding of the Constitution and the changes needed to reflect our current role as an Association.  Another has been the re-institution of a Public Officer to the Committee executive. 

Our radio program, J-Talk, run by Kyoko Katayama, Keiko Sugai and Lee Guerin, has had a break for six months, but will be back on the air on September 3.  The J-Talk report will contain more information on this. 

Many others have also worked well with and for AJA, including our sponsors, the Caffé Amore, Matsuri Japanese Restaurant, Ronin Martial Arts Supplies and the Burnside Library, especially Sharon Downing, who has sent a letter of thanks for our recent efforts at the Burnside Library.  This year we have also had great support from the Japanese Consul-General Mr Hasegawa and the Consulate staff, the Hon. Consul-General Adam Wynn, Multicultural SA, the OzAsia Festival management, Steve Davidson from Salisbury Council for Matsuri on Mobara, Munetaka and Gail Umehara and their dancers, Kyoko Katayama’s Kimono Choir, and many other individuals, without whom we could not have been involved in so many wonderful projects.

 As I complete my 5th term as President of AJA, I thank everyone who has made my task so much easier.  It is a great privilege to serve the Australian-Japanese community of Adelaide, and very rewarding, too.

Jim Stewart

Note: If your computer cannot view the Japanese on the website or the newsletters, try going to Declan Software’s Guide to Installing and Using Microsoft’s Japanese IME.