Parker: Calgary welcomes new consul general for Japan

Wajima notes that the position as consul general covering Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Nunavut is the second largest territory of any of the Japanese overseas consular office

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Our consular corps has been strengthened with the recent arrival from Tokyo of Takehiko Wajima, the new consul general of Japan in Calgary.

After graduating with a bachelor of law from Waseda University, a prominent Tokyo school of learning where its culture and tradition has evolved over time since 1882, Wajima joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1992. He was sent to the U.S. to perfect his English, earning an MBA at Babson Graduate School in Boston, and in 1994 was named vice-consul at Japan’s consulate in San Francisco for two years, during which time he was married.

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He returned to Tokyo for five years, serving as desk officer in both the overseas public relations and the loan aid divisions at the ministry. Then it was back to the U.S. in 2000 as consul in New York, where his son was born. But the family was soon travelling again, as in 2003, Wajima and his family moved to Jamaica where he held the position as first secretary at the embassy of Japan.

Wajima’s experience was broadened in Tokyo from 2006 to 2011 as deputy director of the Southwest Asia Division and as principal deputy director of the NGO Co-operation Division, before being named consul in Los Angeles where he was director for the Japan Information Centre.

By this time the family has grown to include a black Labrador dog, and it travelled with them to Budapest in 2015 where Wajima served his country as deputy head of mission for three years before returning to Tokyo. There he held a number of senior positions, including in public diplomacy strategy, space and maritime security policy, foreign policy and with the cabinet secretariat in the office for COVID-19 and other infectious disease control.

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In 2023, Wajima was named assistant secretary general of the secretariat for the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of Japan ASEAN Friendship and Co-operation, and before his appointment in Calgary he was the senior co-ordinator of the Central and South Eastern Europe division.

A keen skier, Wajima is excited about his term here, and his son — who is now in pre-med studies in New York — is just as avid a snowboarder. He will be in Calgary for three months this summer, during which time he plans to do volunteer work.

Wajima notes that the position as consul general covering Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Nunavut is the second largest territory of any of the Japanese overseas consular office. He says he is particularly looking forward to visiting Winnipeg that has enjoyed a sister-city relationship with his hometown of Setagaya, a special ward of the Tokyo Metropolis, for many years. He met with a delegation from Winnipeg there and is eager to see that city.

The province of Alberta formally became a sister province with Hokkaido in 1980, and before moving here, Wajima paid a visit to the northern island of Japan to discuss plans for a strong delegation to visit us in 2025 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of what has been a very beneficial relationship.

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There are approximately 13,500 people of Japanese descent living in Alberta that the consulate looks after, and besides the growing number of tourists to Japan, last year the office processed more than 2,000 visas required for those staying longer than 90 days. Wajima says he is keen to promote more tourism to Japan, believing that travel is key to building long-lasting friendships. Increasing international trade is also high on his list of priorities.

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching program) that gives students the opportunity to work in Japan to gain valuable experience teaching English and to be fully immersed in the daily reality of Japanese life, will continue under Wajima’s leadership.

Canada is a new experience that he and his family — including the Labrador that will enjoy new walks — are looking forward to experiencing, and they will be made most welcome here.

Notes:

Telus has announced it will make an investment of $135 million in Calgary this year to expand and improve its infrastructure, operations and services. In addition, Telus will continue with its health-care initiatives with the TELUS Health for Good Mobile Clinics, further its engagement with Indigenous communities through Storyhive On Location, and donate $5 million in cash and in-kind support toward wildfire relief efforts in Alberta.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622.

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