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EuJapan Fest, Mr. Kogi: "We see the stars when we have darkness"  

EuJapan Fest, The General committee meeting EuJapan Fest, The General committee meeting Photo by Stanislav Kogiku

 Last week the annual General Committee meeting of Eu Japan Fest was held in Tokyo, the non-governmental organization that has supported the exchange between Japanese and European cultures since over thirty years by collaborating with the European Capitals of Culture.

This is the occasion to which representatives of the European capitals of culture of the previous, current and subsequent years are invited. I was able to participate as a Goodwill Ambassador of Matera 2019, but above all as a representative of Ecocnews.com.

In the days before and after the General Committee meeting, the fantastic staff of Eu Japan fest organizes visits, participation in artistic events and, very importantly, the presentation to the Japanese creative scene of the programs of all the European Capitals of Culture present in Tokyo. In the next few days I will tell you about these activities, while today we focus on the General Committee meeting. Normally it is the occasion for the presentation of the new Chairman by the current one and for the illustration of the previous year's activity by the Secretary General, Mr. Kogi.

The Eu Japan Fest Chairman of 2023, Mr. Sato, from Mizuho financial group, introducing the meeting said that “the situation in the world, including the European region, is becoming more and more chaotic, but I believe that we must carry out our mission with determination, convinced of the importance of solidarity and action in the field of art and culture at grassroots level, beyond national borders”.

In closing, Mr. Sato expressed his sincere hope that the program in Veszprème, “will be a starting point and that the friendships created through this encounter will continue for many years to come, and that the EU-Japan Fest will continue to develop a strong cultural bridge between Europe and Japan”.

The new Chairman for the year 2024, Higashihara, Executive Chairman of Hitachi, said that “we expect that the European Capitals of Culture will further deepen the connections and mutual understanding between the EU and Japan. This includes the important activities such as exchange programs among young people, artistic activities, and the events leveraging the regional characteristics”. Talking about Hitachi activities the Chairman emphasized that “we believe the core of our business is “people.” Individuals have the ability to create innovation, bring social impact, and deliver social good to society, much like all of your artistic endeavors”.

This year Mr. Kogi wanted to remember the origins of the Eu Japan fest activity which take their cue from the beginning of the 1990s when the “EC-Japan Joint declaration” was signed by President Jacques Delors and Prime Minister Kaifu. The aim was to promote understanding and respect not only in the political and economic field but also in the cultural one.

The following year Belgian Government requested Japanese government to support the program for ECoC in 1993 in Antwerp.

Unfortunately this idea was not accepted.

Under these circumstances, Belgian Ambassador to Japan Patrick Norton, who is very pro-Japan, called on cooperation to deepen grassroots solidarity through culture, and the NGO EU Japan Fest was born.

 Mr. Kogi showed a photo of the meeting between Ambassador Norton and Prime Minister Kaifu to prepare for establishment of the Declaration. Former Prime Minister Kaifu became Honorary Chairman of Eu Japan Fest.

In 1993, on the occasion of the Emperor's visit to Belgium, Ambassador Norton also encouraged the Emperor to visit Antwerp, the European Capital of Culture.

Mr. Kogi remembered that since 1993, Eu Japan Fest collaboration with ECoC expand 40 times bigger in this 31 years.

Over the past 31 years, more than 32,000 artists and youth have participated in this activity,

“We are also proud – Mr. Kogi said- of the fact that many of these artists have since gone on to develop international careers. In 2023, we supported so many artists and curators to visit Japan and Europe for research and discussion for future program.”

Talking about the activity of the last years, Mr. Kogi pointed out Mr. Sato’s (Chairman for 2023) efforts to enable the organization to continue the activity with successful fundraising.

Many programs have been postponed due to the pandemic: last September Mr. Sumi, Chairman of 2021, visited Novi Sad and Timisoara; last May, Mr. Hirano, Chairman of 2022, visited Kaunas. Two months later also Prime Minister Kishida was in Kaunas, after having attended the Nato meeting in Vilnius. He received reports about the collaboration between Eu Japan fest and the European capital of culture.

Mr. Kogi underlined the importance of the activity of European capitals of culture during the years: “We do not know if a peaceful society will come in the world.

However, we believe in the importance of continued grassroots and borderless collaboration.

Even if there are no immediate results, I am convinced that seeds will germinate from the earth and over the years create vast forests. Working with ECoC is such an activity”.

We had difficult time with the pandemic and wars are affecting the world. “Under the sunshine - said Mr. Kogi, concluding with a positive message- we cannot see stars in the sky. We can only see the stars when we have darkness. We continued the collaboration even in Pandemic time, and our solidarity become much stronger now under so many difficulties. Artists can only continue the activity no matter what happens”.




Alberto Giordano

Alberto Giordano lived different lives crossing fields and places.