Sitting on a flight to Tokyo, I reached for my Deloitte compendium which safely stored my inbound passenger card and other travel documents. Looking closely, I saw the tiny pre-filled words on the card – Purpose of stay in Japan: Goodwill mission.
Goodwill mission? I never thought I would be involved on a goodwill mission as part of work!
In mid-February I was chosen to partake in the JENESYS Future Business Counterparts program – a goodwill program hosted by the Japanese Government. The program is for young professionals from Australia who have a strong interest in strengthening relations with Japan. The program brought together 45 Australians from various professional backgrounds.
Both Sarah Brightwell, also of Deloitte Private, and I felt very privileged to be selected for the last year of the program. As neither of us had been to Japan before, we found ourselves quite taken aback by the hospitality and warm-heartedness of the Japanese people.
Throughout the program we learned much about the Japanese economy and society through many lectures, facility visits, foreign embassy briefings, attempted Japanese conversations and karaoke.
My involvement in the program also gave me a valuable insight into the Japanese economy, complete with the opportunities and risks it faces. Another highlight of the program for me was visiting the tsunami-devastated Minami-Sanriku. Hearing first-hand the experiences of people who live there, and walking amongst the ruins of the once thriving fishing village were quite moving and memorable experiences.
A key message from various speakers was that Japan is recovering from the disasters and is ready to do business with the world.