2020 Dubai Expo Japan Day One-Year-to-Go Preview Event
At Expo 2020 Dubai, national days will be held to celebrate each nations participations. To mark one year to go until Japan’s national day (Japan Day, December 12, 2020), “One-Year-to-Go Press Conference” was held at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in central Tokyo on December 12, 2019.
Building on the Success of the Dubai Expo for the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan
The event started with a greeting from Tomiyasu Nakamura, Commissioner General of the Japanese Section. “At this event marking one year to go before Japan Day, I am very pleased to be able to introduce Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors who will together help build awareness of the Japan Pavilion and Dubai Expo.”
Before Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors were unveiled, Tetsuya Azuma, Deputy Commissioner General of the Japanese Section, gave an explanation about the Dubai Expo and Japan Pavilion. As the expo taking place prior to Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan, Azuma noted that Dubai offers a vital opportunity for showcasing the next host nation: Japan. “In the Japan Pavilion in Dubai,” he told the audience, “the ground floor of the two-floor pavilion will feature a section about Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan.”
Following a greeting from Hiroshi Kajiyama, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, it was time for the Ambassadors’ swearing-in ceremony. “The theme of the Dubai Expo—‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’—deals with the importance of partnerships,” the minister said. “Based on this, the Japan Pavilion will transmit a message of how encounters of people and ideas create new values, and that it is Japan who can form the connection point for producing those encounters between people around the world. With help from various people working across a range of different fields, we will publicize the Japan Pavilion widely at home and abroad, and build momentum as we head toward October 2020 and the start of the expo. Along with proving a great success for Japan and the expo’s host nation of the United Arab Emirates, I hope this expo can also serve to pave the way for the upcoming Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan.”
His Excellency Mr. Khaled Omran Sqait Sarhan Alameri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Japan, described the close relationship that the UAE and Japan enjoy, touching on the nearly 50 years of friendship that has existed between them. “It is particularly significant that Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors have been selected from fields that greatly strengthen relations between our two countries. Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors’ standout talent will disseminate the appeal of Japan in highly original and extensive ways, helping to build buzz and excitement about the Dubai Expo. Through this expo, the world will notice the wonderful relationship that exists between Japan and the UAE and the value of such bilateral relations will surely increase.” He closed his speech with his wishes for the success of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan.
Seven Groups (Fourteen Individuals) Appointed Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors, Including Kanjani Eight
Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors are the pop group Kanjani Eight, astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, actress Yumi Wakatsuki, singer-songwriter Tatsuo Kamon, four UAE Students at Tokai University Takanawadai High School, and Pokémon and Mobile Suit Gundam. Pikachu appeared on behalf of Pokémon, while Gundam appeared with the director Yoshiyuki Tomino, the creator of the series.
Soaking up the Appeal of the Expo and Bringing It Home to Osaka
First to take to the stage were the five members of Kanjani Eight. Representing the group, Shingo Murakami formally accepted the letter of appointment from Minister Kajiyama. “I was overwhelmed by the scale of the place,” Murakami said about Dubai, which he has visited twice. “Even just the glittering look of the airport was astonishing. It makes me very excited to see what kind of expo the city will create.” He also spoke about Osaka, which the group represents as tourism ambassadors. “I want to soak up the appeal of the expo in Dubai and then bring that energy back home to Osaka.” After the group’s appointment ceremony, another member, Tadayoshi Okura, shared the enthusiasm of all the members. “While we can’t do traditional types of entertainment like Kabuki, the kind of entertainment that Johnny’s has created is nonetheless very unique. Through this, I hope we can show how amazing Japanese entertainment is.”
Deep Links Between the UAE and Japan in the Field of Space Exploration
Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki spoke about the Dubai Expo theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” “When I was at the International Space Station in 2010, it felt almost like attending a world expo in miniature. As lots of people from different countries were living together, it really showed me the importance of the connections among people. In fact, Japan and the UAE have strong links in the field of space exploration.” To illustrate these links, Yamazaki highlighted one development scheduled for 2020, when the Dubai Expo takes place. The UAE probe al-amal (meaning “hope”) will take off from Tanegashima, an island in Japan, bound for Mars. In this way, Yamazaki shared her perspective on space exploration as a field that is building partnerships between the UAE and Japan and the rest of the world. She also congratulated on the first UAE astronaut’s successful mission to the International Space Station in 2019. “The UAE seems committed to developing space exploration as an industry for the next generation. I look forward to seeing what happens in a year’s time at the expo.”
Telling the World About Japan Through Home Cooking Like Ochazuke
On her visits to Dubai in February and April 2019, Yumi Wakatsuki was impressed by how Japanese technology is used around the city. One person in a cafe, for instance, told her that Japanese ceramics were the best for making coffee. “It might me so happy that people were using Japanese technology in this way and, not only that, they thought it the best,” she said. “I want to tell the people of Dubai even more about all the great things in Japan.” More concretely, she wants to share the wonders of Japanese food. “Japanese food is very popular. Of course, sushi is eaten a lot. But I want to recommend other types of Japanese cooking like ochazuke. This is the kind of thing we might eat at home. It’s just green tea poured over rice. This simplicity is somehow so typically Japanese, I think, and you can enjoy changing the flavor depending on the tea you use. I personally love salmon ochazuke and I recently tried hojicha roasted green tea with ochazuke in Kyoto. It’s these types of things I hope to convey to people.”
An Incredible Place for People to Transcend Their Differences and Interact
Tatsuo Kamon has served as Supporter at various expos, from Shanghai to Milan and Nur-Sultan（Astana）. “I remember Expo ’70 in Osaka in 1970. I was eleven years old, a sixth grader in elementary school. It was exhilarating to see this futuristic city right in front of me and I had a real sense that the future would be a bright and positive one. That excitement has stayed with me right up to the present.” He appeared at the event wearing a six-kilogram (13-pound) jacket with 650 badges that he collected from each of the pavilions at the Shanghai Expo. “An expo is a truly wonderful kind of place. People from all over the world come together in friendship. Each nation has its own history. People have different languages, hair colors, eye colors, even heights. But they all gather in one place to tell each other about their countries. I think the children of the UAE will, like me when I was a young boy, be full of excitement when they visit the expo.” Kamon’s sheer enthusiasm for expos was simply irrepressible. “In the future, I want to become an expo!” he joked.
A Bridge for Telling the World About Both Nations and Strengthening Their Bonds
The four UAE Students have experienced Japanese-style education since a very young age and today continue to live according to Japanese customs. These students will grow into people who can convey the wonders of both Japan and the UAE as well as strengthen the bonds between the two nations. They spoke at the event in fluent Japanese, leaving the whole venue filled with admiration for these young men. “I am very grateful and moved to receive this amazing role,” said Rashed Alberi. “I want to try my very best in my efforts,” Abdulla Alshkeili told the audience. Abdulla Alhosani said, “I was always in awe of ambassadors. I am deeply moved to be given this role.” Abdulla Almansoori was a little nervous but shared his motivations as Japan Pavilion PR Ambassador. “Through my work as Japan Pavilion PR Ambassador, I want to strive to raise Japan’s profile in the UAE and help make the relationship between our two countries even better.”
Globally Popular Content Supports the Japan Pavilion at the Dubai Expo
Pokémon representative Pikachu was welcomed onto the stage with delighted cries from the audience. After climbing the steps by itself, this character known all around the world showcased its incredible popularity by enchanting the audience simply through standing there onstage. A PR manager from The Pokémon Company, Junya Masuda, accepted the letter of appointment on Pikachu’s behalf, while Pikachu shook hands with Minister Kajiyama. When asked about how it feels about being Japan Pavilion PR Ambassador, Pikachu whispered in Masuda’s ear, who translated for the audience to much laughter: “We want to try our very best as Japan Pavilion PR Ambassadors at the expo.” Pikachu left the audience thoroughly charmed and amused by its energy and personality.
Contrasting 20th-Century Forms with the Design of the Future
With a body color especially changed to match the design of the Dubai Expo Japan Pavilion, Gundam appeared onstage with director Yoshiyuki Tomino. How does Gundam feel about being Japan Pavilion PR Ambassador? “Gundam says it is hoping that its design will provide inspiration for the new century,” Tomino said on the robot’s behalf. “It is very happy to receive this opportunity.” Tomino, who has spent over four decades with his creation, commented: “It is an absolutely thrilling and superb chance to be able to contrast Gundam, whose shape was born in the 20th century, with design and culture that looks toward the 21st and 22nd centuries. And as a backdrop for showcasing this, there is no better place than Dubai. I am excited to see what new developments appear in this hub for culture and design. I hope everyone will join me in enjoying the expo in this way.”