Consul-General Mr. Kitamura, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am indeed greatly honored to be conferred The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays, with Rosette. I owe this honor to the work of all the pioneers in the field of Japanese Studies in Hong Kong. I would also like to share this honor with my family and everyone who worked with me in the Chinese University and in the Society of Japanese Language Education, Hong Kong. Without their help and support, nothing would have been possible.
Hong Kong has undergone tremendous changes during the past few decades: from
a light industry base to a service-oriented economy, with increasing emphasis
on high-tech and knowledge. The higher education sector in Hong Kong has also
experienced tremendous changes during the same period: rapid expansion, diversification,
globalization and to a certain degree, commercialization. It was my very good
fortune to have worked in that period of rapid expansion in tertiary education
and a growing global economy. In line with these changes, the higher education
institutions in Hong Kong benefited not only from the unlimited support of
the Hong Kong government but also from Japan. I would like to use this occasion
to thank the Foreign Ministry of the Japanese government, the Japan Foundation,
and the Japan EXPO Fund Project for their generous support by sending teaching
staff, as well as donating books and facilities for the past few decades. Support
from the Japanese Club, the Japan Society, and the Japanese communities in
Hong Kong is also very much appreciated. Here, once again, I would like to
formally say a big Thank You to them for their invaluable support and assistance.
The higher education sector in Hong Kong has played a key role in building Hong Kong as Asiafs World City. Staff members of Japanese studies programs have been contributing a great deal towards this aim. For instance, they have organized student exchange programs with Japanese universities, summer intensive courses and home-stay programs in Japan. In addition, over 20 secondary schools in Hong Kong have included Japanese language in their curriculum or as part of their extra-curricular activities. Japanese language is increasingly popular among the younger generation in Hong Kong. University graduates of Japanese studies are expected to strongly support this tendency.
On the other hand, with multi-lingualism as one of its advantages, Hong Kong has good opportunities to act as a regional centre for both initial and continuing higher education, not just for China but also for other neighbouring countries. However, there is increasing concern expressed from many sources?the Education Commission, employers, the press?that Hong Kong is losing this advantage. In view of this, Japanese studies programs in higher education deserve greater attention. Unfortunately the staff members of the programs face new challenges. They are facing many difficulties that I had never experienced before: pay cuts, budget cuts, and increasing demand for efficiency savings. To ensure that Japanese studies programs in Hong Kongfs higher education can effectively make their contribution, they should be put on a secure footing with uncertainty removed and long-term measures taken. Moreover, relevant support from the Japanese government, the Japan Foundation and the Japanese communities in Hong Kong is equally significant. Without their continuous support and encouragement, Japanese studies programs in higher education will not be able to move forward smoothly in this difficult environment. Education is of paramount importance to the long term development of Hong Kong. It is my sincere hope that Hong Kong can maintain itfs uniqueness as the meeting point of different cultures not only at present but also in the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my family and I are very grateful for your being here today. Finally I take this opportunity to wish you all good health and every success in future.
Thank you very much for your kind attention. Thank you.