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Friday, May 18, 2012

JAPAN AND DAVAO



BRIDGING JAPAN and DAVAO


Outgoing Consul Yoshiyuki Isoda and Madame Isoda, Mayor Sara Duterte, and Consul Kazuhiko Anzai and Madame Anzai, during farewell dinner for Consul Isoda last year.
Photo From Durian Wordpress

A VETERAN in foreign ministry affairs, a devoted husband, a people-person, a pet lover, and a talented painter with a good sense of humor rolled into one.
Kazuhiko Anzai, Consul of Japan and Director of the Consular Office of Japan in Davao, is all these and more.
Consul Anzai was born in Nagano Prefecture, Japan on Sept. 16, 1951. He and his wife Kikuno hold residence in Tabata, Kita-Ku, Tokyo. They've been married for 31 years.
The nature of his job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Japan, however, brought them away from home a few times. He's been with the MFA of Japan for 31 years as well.
He first came to the Philippines in 1983 where he worked as Protocol Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Manila in 1983 when the late Ferdinand Marcos was then president. He returned to Manila in 1986 after the late Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino took over the presidency.
“Walang problema.” or “Bukas nalang” where the first of Filipino phrases he learned during those times.
Prior to his assignment here, Consul Anzai was designated as Deputy of the Mission at the Consulate-General of Japan in Perth, Western Australia where he served three years.
"I didn't have any objection when I was offered the job in the COJD. My wife and I thought it was a good move to Davao although it was a bit complicated to bring our dog here from Perth," Consul Anzai said in an e-mail interview.
They arrived on November 28, 2011 while their dog arrived a week later. But Consul Anzai had been to Davao in May 1986 for an overnight visit before going back to Tokyo. A senior officer at the Embassy suggested to him to see this city in southern part of the country.
"I think I stayed at the Insular Hotel then and the Consular Office's driver brought me to some places including central part of the city and to the suburbs in Mintal," he reminisced.
As a Consul of Japan, his primary concern is to protect the life and property of Japanese nationals and also to enhance the bilateral relations between Japan and the Philippines or in particular between Japan and Davao.
"Since there are Japanese people who wish to reside in Davao, Japanese companies that wish to do business in Mindanao and Filipinos who wish to visit Japan, we wish to support these people to people relationship," he said.
In a recent survey conducted by the MFA of Japan, there are more than 1,700 Japanese in Mindanao including over 800 in Davao City alone. He said some Japanese are residing in far-flung areas with no internet access, thus, he must establish a network with them through telephone and postal mail.
He went on saying, "To enhance the bilateral relation is easy compared with the first task I mentioned above. Since Davao has very strong ties with Japan in various way in various level, I would like to explore the business relation in areas such as trade and investment more. In that respect, I hope the access to (from) Japan would be more improved."
But he noted that no direct flight between Davao and any city in Japan is a downside.
If Dabawenyos wish to visit Japan, they have to fly to Manila first before catching a plane bound for any Japan destination. The waiting time at the airport usually takes over four hours.
"Flying time between Manila and Tokyo is less than four hours. This inconvenience of flight access is a main obstacle for Japanese people to visit Davao for either business or tourism," he added.
Aside from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Mactan Cebu International Airport caters five to six flights to Tokyo every week.
He hopes that airline companies will consider to extend two flights a week to and from Davao to Japan so that if it stops over twice in Cebu and Manila, people of Davao can go to Japan without changing the aircraft and without waiting more than four hours at NAIA where there is almost nothing to do.
He was appreciative though of the city's progress in terms of development and economy.
"I feel that the city is developing fast and obviously new buildings are rising in many areas. But I hope that the development of the city will not damage the characteristic of its beauty which the people had tried to preserve," he said.
He also admires the dynamism of leaders in the city government of Davao.
The Anzai couple had been enjoying their stay here the past six months, especially those fresh tropical fruits like banana, mango and pineapple (but not so much of durian) that abound in the city. His favorite dish? Adobong kangkong.
Is there any Filipino/Davao food you haven’t yet tried to eat? Why?
He said, "There are so many food that I have not tried because I have only one stomach (laughs), but I wish to try as much as I can."
He also wishes to explore other parts of Davao but he confessed that his time at work limits him. He whiles away time by walking with his dog or painting.
Another worthy diversion for him was watching elementary and High School baseball games during the Davao City Baseball Cup in February.
Consul Anzai, who is passionate and dedicated to his work, leaves us this message: "Japanese residents here may be businessmen or expats but they, too, are Davao citizens. So regardless of nationality or ethnicity, let us work together more closer as citizens of Davao."
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 19, 2012.

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