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The Basque President and the Mayoress of Toshima preside over the concert that kicks off the activities of the Basque Week in Tokyo

2023 October 13
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  • "We are two Peoples who know where they come from and are clear about where to go," said Iñigo Urkullu

The President and the Mayoress of Toshima, Miyuki Takagiwa, have presided over the concert that kicked off Basque Week, the central event of the Euskadi Japan 2023 initiative that is being developed throughout the year in Japan.

The show was performed by the musical group Oreka TX, the dance group Kukai and the Japanese duo Ki&Ki, and consisted of an encounter between two cultures to the rhythm of txalaparta, alboka and tsugaru-shamisen, a traditional Japanese plucked string instrument.

The event was attended by the entire delegation of the Basque Country and a large institutional representation from Toshima, in addition to 250 people interested in attending the concert. Among the guests were the former Japanese Ambassador to Spain, the President of the Tokyo International Film Festival, the President of the Japan Chamber of Commerce, the Director of Innovation and Start-ups of Aichi Prefecture, a member of the Japanese Parliament, two professors from the Tokyo University for Foreign Studies, the Deputy Delegate of the Japan Tourism Agency, the Minister of the Japanese Operators Association, the Director of International Relations of the city of Utsunomiya and the General Manager of Hitachi hi-tech corporation.

To all of them, Iñigo Urkullu wanted to begin his first official speech in Basque in Japan thanking the city of Toshima and its leaders for the welcome given to the Basque delegation. “From the first moment we felt at home. You have welcomed us with open arms,” he said.

The President recalled that the objective of the Euskadi Japan 2023 initiative is to strengthen the links between the two countries “because alliances are absolutely necessary”, while assuring that the Basque Country and Japan are two peoples with common characteristics that indulge the detail of their traditions. As examples he referred to Basque gastronomy, “famous throughout the world”, and to their own sport, rural sport, “current exponents of a traditional way of life”.

“We are two peoples who know where they come from and have a clear idea of where they are going,” he said,

Iñigo Urkullu ended his speech by highlighting “the greatest exponent of a culture — its language” and pointed out that languages were created to break down “barriers and distances”.

“Our languages,” he said, “have completely different roots, but that is where their beauty and uniqueness lies.”

“Today I learned to say 'Domo Arigato', 'Eskerrik asko’ (thank you) in Basque.  Throughout this week I will try to continue learning. That's what it's all about — bringing Japan and Euskadi closer — getting to know each other and making ourselves known. We will also meet this challenge,” he concluded.

Meeting with the Mayoress of Toshima

Prior to the concert, the President held a brief meeting with Miyuki Takagiwa, Mayor of Toshima (Tokyo Metropolitan), the city that will host Basque Week until October 19.

The week is the main event of the Euskadi Japan 2023 initiative for which more than 100 performances have been organised throughout the year in different places in Japan and the Basque Country. “Projects that seek to build bridges between people, even though we are more than 10,000 kilometres apart,” the President explained.

After the meeting, the two went to the Toshima Civic Centre, where they presided over the opening concert.

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Politicians attending the event