[From January Issue 2015]
Ambassador for the Dominican Republic
When I was in the Dominican Republic, I had the impression that Japan was a great country with both political and economic power. In 2013, I’d received an offer from our President to be posted as ambassador to a different country, but I personally told him I wanted to go to Japan. If I had gone to a country in South America, my connections and language skills would have made things easier, but sensing that there was a potential for trade with Japan to grow, I took up the challenge.
Since I arrived, my impression of Japan has improved even more. The buildings and railways are good, but above all else, I thought that the people were wonderful; everyone is modest and very polite. I highly value that.
I like all Japanese food. It’s healthy. I would probably be slimmer if I only ate Japanese cuisine. My wife and I often go out to Japanese restaurants and whenever we have guests from our country, we take them to eat out. They all appreciate the variety and delicious taste of Japanese cuisine.
I’ve visited many parts of Japan in my first year here. I liked them all. I discovered two positive aspects of Japan while traveling to those places. Firstly, marvelous historical landmarks, such as castles and old houses, have been preserved. Secondly, wherever you go in the country, there’s always a modern infrastructure.
The place I’m now interested in visiting is Hokkaido. I want to go and see the snow, which we don’t have in our country. I also want to see more of Tokyo. I want to go to places like Asakusa, to get in touch with its artistic and cultural side.
I think Japanese people are passionate about maintaining the cleanliness of their cities. That’s great. Nothing is particularly problematic for me in Japan. The lifestyle is very convenient. My only regret is I came here with my wife. Joking aside, I think Japanese women are graceful and very attractive.
I believe that Japan and the Dominican Republic have two things in common. The first thing is the people. The people of both countries do their best each day to fulfill their ambitions. The second thing is baseball. Japan and the Dominican Republic are the only countries that have been world champions in the World Baseball Classic tournament. The Dominican Republic is the current champion.
I believe our two countries will in the future become closer, not only through trade, but also through scientific, cultural, and political exchanges. Prime Minister ABE has made statements to the effect that he is paying particular attention to Latin America. We’re hoping to strengthen ties with Japan. There are many Dominican companies that want to do business with Japan.
The year 2014 is the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Dominican Republic. To commemorate this we have organized all kinds of events. The year 2015 will mark the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the five countries of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica). We Dominicans intend to play our part as a member of the Central American Integration System.
The most attractive feature of the Dominican Republic is its people. We are all open-minded and hospitable to foreigners. Our country receives the greatest number of tourists in the Central American and Caribbean area. Our population is about ten million and we receive about five million tourists a year. So that we’ll have more tourists from Japan, I’m working hard to develop ties with companies in Japan’s tourism industry.
The Dominican Republic occupies the largest portion of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The climate is pleasant all year round. Superb beaches and beach resorts are dotted along the whole coastline. It’s so beautiful that it’s been likened to “a piece of blue sky.” Legend has it that when he arrived in Hispaniola in 1492, COLUMBUS remarked, “I bet no one has ever seen such natural beauty.”
Our country is rich in natural resources such as nickel and bauxite. Our GDP comes from tourism, agriculture and mining, and 4% of this is invested in education. Education is the key to a country’s development. We learned that from Japan.
I once appeared in a TV commercial that was shown in Daiei – a Japanese supermarket. It was advertising mangos from the Dominican Republic. On the subject of food, I should say that our tropical fruits – mango and bananas and so forth – are very delicious and so are our avocados, honey and casabe crackers.
Please everyone go and visit the Dominican Republic, the most beautiful country in the world. Once you go there, you’ll certainly be captivated. We’ll be waiting for you.
- Dominican Republic Embassy
- Courtesy of Happo-en
Interview: KONO Yu