Exchange: Luxembourg meets Japan was the theme of the second in Voyages Emile Weber’s “meet and greet” series.
The “meet and greet” events, which were launched last year with guest speaker Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner, are aimed at bringing together decision makers from business and the public sector, diplomacy and culture, says the travel company.
Guest speakers at the Luxembourg meets Japan soirée included Japanese ambassador Takashi Suetsuna and the director general of the Chamber of Commerce and former Ambassador of Luxembourg to Japan, Pierre Gramegna. Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, who spent the best part of 20 years in Japan before returning to take up his current post, was prevented from attending due to a sudden illness.
The event also included a performance in the Philharmonie’s grande auditorium by Les Frères, Japanese brothers Moriya and Keito Saito who first studied piano at the Luxembourg city conservatoire.
Suetsuna said that Hollerich probably knew Japanese culture better than he did. The ambassador also spoke of the reconstruction efforts and the community spirit shown by the Japanese people, and the grateful help received from abroad, including Luxembourg, in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of much of the country in March 2011.
Both Suetsuna and Gramegna highlighted the differences and similarities between the two countries, but both urged Luxembourgers to visit Japan and discover a completely different world and way of life.
Indeed, Gramegna pointed out that the Japanese mentality is in stark contrast to that in Luxembourg, not only because of the huge discrepancy in population density (because only 15 percent of the country is populated), but also because of the different influence of foreign residents in the respective countries-- only one percent of residents in Japan are foreign.
Both speakers also highlighted the importance of trade with Japan, underlined by the service freight carrier Cargolux provides between the two countries four times a week. Both countries have had to look abroad for markets, the Chamber director explained.
Financial services also play an important role, with Suetsuna pointing out that the five Japanese banks in the Grand Duchy representing the second most from a country outside the EU after the USA.
And Luxembourg is in the top ten investors in Japan, said Gramegna. He also said that with just 48 percent of women in the workforce--already a significant increase on 20 years ago--Japan has a great untapped potential.
TEXT: Duncan Roberts · PHOTO(S): Jessica Theis