A Report on the 'Woman of Courage Award, Japan'
-a look at the "Reception for International Women's Day" hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Japan
At this event that began at 18:30 on the 5th of Mar., 2009 (Thr.), I, Nami Takenaka was awarded the 'Woman of Courage Award, Japan' of which upon receipt announced, "It is my feeling that this prize in not only for me, but for all friends of Prop Station and for all those who supported us."
Let me report the scenes from the reception with pictures. (^_^)
As the name 'the Reception for International Women's Day' suggests, a gathering of approximately 80 women who were recognized as having played active parts in all walks of life in Japan were invited to the joyful atmosphere of the Ambassador's residence of James P. Zumwalt, Charge d'Affaires.
Charge d'Affairs James Zumwalt (right)
Nami Takenaka (center)
Ms. Ann Kambara (left)
Mr. James P. Zumwalt will serve as Charge d'Affaires ad interim in the United States Embassy until the arriving of Mr. Joseph Nye as the new Ambassador for the Obama administration.
Mr. Zumwalt and Ms. Ann Kambara （the Director of the Tokyo American Center）warmly welcomed me at the entrance of the reception venue. Not only did Ms. Kambara participate in our "Challenged Japan Forum in Chiba" when she worked as the Counselor of Labour at the U.S. Embassy, but she is also a person with whom I have had deep conversations with in regards to the employment policies of challenged individuals in Japan and the States. It was so good seeing her again after such a long time. As a matter of fact, It was then that I realized she and Mr. Zumwalt were now a couple. I look forward to continuing strong future relations with them.
Princess Hisako Takamadonomiya
(on the right)
As I was tasting a glass of wine, Princess Hisako Takamado-miya arrived. She walked over to me and as our eyes met she spoke to me with her nice smile and said, "You must be Ms. Takenaka who is receiving the honor today!". "Yes. Please call me Nami-ne". I replied to her and we heartily shook hands. The Princess was a straightforward lady who sported a very nice short cut hair style.
According to her, her youngest daughter, Princess Ayako will be graduating Gakushuin Girls Senior High School soon and plans to attend a college that offers a program designated to welfare for the elderly and people with disabilities. She said to me, "I came to see you today with strong interests in your activities. I also have heard about your daughter who has a disability. I would like you to meet my daughter someday." I was taken aback when she said this to me, but at the same time was so glad to hear these words from her.
Mr. Zumwalt Introducing Nami
Soon the reception room was packed with guests and Mr. Zumwalt made the opening remarks. It was surprising that he was reading in perfect Japanese from a manuscript that contained Kanji, and he did not even use the traditional 'rubi'. I felt ashamed that not only can I not speak English, but also I totally gave up trying to learn it.
Following the greetings of Mr. James Zumwalt, the award ceremony took place in front of a grand piano at the edge of the room where he presented me with a testimonial written in English with the Embassy's logo.
Charge d'Affairs. Zumwalt Reading out Nami's Certificate,
Ms. Moriyama, Former Minister of Justice, Princess Takamadonomiya, and Nami (from left)
Nami accepting graciously accepting her award
Asked if I would like to speak a few words upon reception of the prize, I said, "The honor of winning this award today fills me with warmth. I am here today, thanks to my severely challenged daughter. Although she is unable to work, the activities of Prop Station have been promoted through the support of challenged individuals with the desire to work, through staff, and through many others. It is with them, that I share this award. Also I would like to add that Prop Station is promoting our activities through cooperation with the Computer/Electronics Accommodations Program under the Department of Defense, of which the Director, Ms. Dinah Cohen, received the 'President's Quality award' last year which is the highest award given to Executive Branch agencies for management excellence. I am pausing to realize the profundity of the policies for the challenged in the U.S. Thank you for the continuing support of the American Embassy, and from everyone here. Thank you very much for today."
A toast to Nami's accomplishment
I thought the program would continue after my award ceremony, but I was surprisingly informed that, "The main event of this reception today is your recognition. We are privileged in giving you this testimonial.", From then on I continued to be congratulated by guests and after exchanging many business cards, I enjoyed a variety of wonderful dishes at the buffet style dinner reception.
I met many former acquaintances including Ms. Mayumi Moriyama, former Minister of Justice, Ms. Akamatsu Ryoko, former Minister of Education, Ms. Tomoyo Nonanka and Ms. Mitsu Kimata. They encouraged me by saying, "Nami-san, Keep it up!" Among the guests that I had met for the first time was a young lady who told me that she is reading my email magazine and I automatically asked her back, "Really?". I was truly delighted. (^o^)
Nami having conversation with Ms. Kambara (left) and Princess Takamadonomiya (center)
Mr. Daniel Garrett, Political Officer
at the U.S Embassy (right)
Leaving the official residence of the Charge d'Affaires after 8 pm, I felt that the weather was amazingly warm considering that snow had fallen here just 2 days ago. The breeze caressing my skin smelled of new spring. It was a beautiful night in Tokyo.
Encouraged by this prize, I will make further effort on promoting employment for the challenged and realizing a universal society. Your continuing support is greatly appreciated. m(_ _)m
In the meantime, my friends are planning a 'Nami-ne's 60-year-old anniversary and congratulatory 'Woman of Courage Award Japan' party and live concert' at the restaurant Sannomiya Satin Doll (Kobe City) from 12pm on Apr. 12th (Sun.) and the Roppongi Satin Doll (Tokyo) from 12pm on Apr. 19th (Sun.). I am planning to sing songs including 'a song for my daughter, Maki' (the words are written by myself, and the music is composed by Koji Seki) at the live concert. I will announce more on this later. If your schedule permits it, please join us!! Thank you from my heart.
Nami with Staff at Prop Station
Woman of Courage Award Japan Certificate