Blog from IMO Secretary-General

27 September 2014

A look to the future with Polish students

On 27 September 2014, I attended the opening ceremony for the new academic year of the Maritime University of Szczecin, Poland, conducted by the University Rector, Professor Stanislaw Gucma. This was the first event arranged for my official visit to Poland, touring Szczecin, Gdynia and Warsaw.

The ceremony was attended by Mrs Dorota Pyć, Under-Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, representatives of other maritime and technical Universities in Poland, the President of the City of Szczecin, members of Parliament and representatives of the shipping and maritime industries of Poland. A special feature of this year’s ceremony was the presence of the beautiful Russian tall ship ‘Kruzenshtern’, sent to this event by Vladimir Volkogon, the Rector of Kaliningrad State Technical University, who also attended the ceremony. Thousands of students and their families, as well as members of the general public, were also present, gathered at the port in front of the University building and the maritime museum of Szczecin.

At the ceremony I had an opportunity to deliver congratulatory remarks to the University and students. It was an exciting event and I encouraged students to work hard, acquire new skills and be ambitious to take advantage of everything this University can offer them while they dream about their future. I mentioned the outcome of Rio +20, the document “The Future We Want” and the Sustainable Development Goals which include our goal to ensure sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources, in addition to many broader goals such as the eradication of poverty and hunger, health, education, gender equality, sustainable water, energy, employment and industrialization.

"It is clear that, without shipping and maritime trade, we cannot achieve our goals", I said. I asked Government officials involved in maritime industry and maritime education to work harder to raise the profile of shipping and highlight the vital role of shipping and maritime trade for the sustainable development and prosperity of mankind.

Koji

27 September 2014

A look to the future with Polish students

On 27 September 2014, I attended the opening ceremony for the new academic year of the Maritime University of Szczecin, Poland, conducted by the University Rector, Professor Stanislaw Gucma. This was the first event arranged for my official visit to Poland, touring Szczecin, Gdynia and Warsaw.

The ceremony was attended by Mrs Dorota Pyć, Under-Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, representatives of other maritime and technical Universities in Poland, the President of the City of Szczecin, members of Parliament and representatives of the shipping and maritime industries of Poland. A special feature of this year’s ceremony was the presence of the beautiful Russian tall ship ‘Kruzenshtern’, sent to this event by Vladimir Volkogon, the Rector of Kaliningrad State Technical University, who also attended the ceremony. Thousands of students and their families, as well as members of the general public, were also present, gathered at the port in front of the University building and the maritime museum of Szczecin.

At the ceremony I had an opportunity to deliver congratulatory remarks to the University and students. It was an exciting event and I encouraged students to work hard, acquire new skills and be ambitious to take advantage of everything this University can offer them while they dream about their future. I mentioned the outcome of Rio +20, the document “The Future We Want” and the Sustainable Development Goals which include our goal to ensure sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources, in addition to many broader goals such as the eradication of poverty and hunger, health, education, gender equality, sustainable water, energy, employment and industrialization.

"It is clear that, without shipping and maritime trade, we cannot achieve our goals", I said. I asked Government officials involved in maritime industry and maritime education to work harder to raise the profile of shipping and highlight the vital role of shipping and maritime trade for the sustainable development and prosperity of mankind.

Koji

Urgent action needed on migrant issue

Today (23 September 2014) I travelled to Italy, to attend the 6th Plenary Conference of the European Coast Guard Functions Forum aboard the cruise ship Costa Serena at the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome. I appreciate very much this opportunity, provided by Vice Admiral Felicio Angrisano of the Italian Coast Guard, for me to meet those committed people in the Italian Coast Guard and the Italian Navy who are working on the front line to save thousands of migrants. I had a good conversation with the Chief of the Italian Navy, Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, on the subject of how the international community should handle the huge humanitarian problem of maritime migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

During my speech at the closing session of the Conference, I stated that the current onslaught of migration by sea is not a random occurrence. It is being organised and orchestrated by people who trade and traffic in the lives of others, and this is a crime that needs to be tackled. Poor migrants do not possess boats. Somebody must have arranged the boats, the fuel and the boats’ operators and then set sail with hundreds of migrants, against all safety regulations. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime contains the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, which means we have already a firm international legal basis to take action against this crime. What is needed now is concerted action to tackle the smugglers and all those behind this organised crime.

I explained IMO’s experience in dealing with the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia and pointed out that the international community had acted with determination to counter this crime in this arena.

Although implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime is not within the remit of IMO, I pledged that IMO stands ready to collaborate and give its support to all those who can play an active part in alleviating this dreadful situation. I called for action by relevant UN agencies including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)  and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as the  and International Organization for Migration (IOM), INTERPOL, the African Union, the European Union and European Commission as well as the Economic Commissions for Africa and for Europe.

Collectively, we all need to work together to develop impact-oriented actions. We must take action now. We must take action against smugglers, those who rendered boats, operators and all involved in this organised crime. The international community must act now, and with the same determination as was effectively demonstrated in dealing with piracy off the coast of Somalia.

In the meantime, the plight of these people, who risk a tragic fate by taking to overcrowded small boats of dubious safety under extreme conditions, and often perish – sometimes in sight of land – continues as a blight on the 21st century.

We should spare no effort to bring this to an end, sooner rather than later.

Koji

Statue of Hasekura Tsunenaga, first official Japanese mission to EuropeOn my way back to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport Civitavecchia, I detected from the car window a statue of a Japanese samurai standing by the road in a small village we were passing through. I asked the driver to stop, and discovered what was unmistakably a statue of samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga, who was sent to Europe as the Head of the Japanese mission, some 400 years ago. I knew that Hasekura Tsunenaga had visited Rome but I was not aware exactly where he had arrived in Italy. I need to investigate further but my sense of judgement at the time of writing this blog (during my return flight to London) is that he might have landed at the exact place where his statue is raised.Readers of my blog will know that I am very interested in maritime heritage and maritime history – I blogged about the story of John Manjiro on 29 January this year – and I am encouraging my colleagues to bring good maritime histories to the attention of people and the general public, in order to attract their attention to our wonderful maritime history and maritime heritage. I believe that this is a good and effective way to highlight the importance of shipping and international trade in our life today, and that public awareness of IMO’s activities can also be enhanced by understanding this historical context. I am personally very interested in this way of seeking and promoting our outreach activities.In 1600, the Englishman William Adams landed on the western island of Japan because his ship, the Dutch vessel De Liefde, had run aground and been wrecked. He survived, and passed on his knowledge of western shipbuilding technology to Japan. He served Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and himself became a samurai, Miura Anjin – the first and last Englishman to be a samurai . He built two western-style sailing ships with Japanese shipbuilders. One of them, the San Buena Ventura, was given to the then Spanish General Governor of the Philippines, Rodrigo de Vivero, to enable him and his own ships’ crew – who had also been shipwrecked on the coast of Japan – to return to the Spanish territory in America which is now known as Mexico.Tokugawa Ieyasu was interested to promote trade with Spain and attempted to contract a treaty, but it never came to fruition. Another warrior chief, daimyo Date Masamune, shared the ambition of Ieyasu and also built a galleon-style ship, the San Juan Bautista, using the technology passed to the Japanese by William Adams. He sent this ship on a formal mission to Spain, in 1614 – 400 years ago. There is a replica of this ship in Ishinomaki, in the northern part of Japan. The replica was caught up in the tsunami of 2011 but survived and is now on display to the general public in a maritime museum in Ishinomaki.The head of that mission was Hasekura Tsunenaga and, as his mission navigated eastbound through the Pacific Ocean from Japan, he called at Acapulco in Mexico. The mission then travelled further eastwards and, on arrival in Spain, he met King Filipe III. The mission continued eastbound and eventually arrived at Rome where Hasekura Tsunenaga met the Pope, Paulus V, and received the honorary title of Roman Citizen.Eventually he turned back to Japan via the present-day Mexico and through the Pacific Ocean; but when he arrived home, Christianity had been already prohibited in Japan and the country was eventually closed against foreign countries, except for a window in Nagasaki for the Dutch people. Thus the objective of Hasekura Tsunenaga’s mission, to open trade with Spain, was not realised.Today, in 2014, I saw, by chance, the statue of Hasekura Tsunenaga near Civitavecchia. Standing in front of the statue, I really felt the power of our remarkable maritime history; and it helped me to see the crucial work carried out by IMO for the maritime community in the 21st century in its true historical perspective.Koji

Statue of Hasekura Tsunenaga, first official Japanese mission to Europe

On my way back to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport Civitavecchia, I detected from the car window a statue of a Japanese samurai standing by the road in a small village we were passing through. I asked the driver to stop, and discovered what was unmistakably a statue of samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga, who was sent to Europe as the Head of the Japanese mission, some 400 years ago. I knew that Hasekura Tsunenaga had visited Rome but I was not aware exactly where he had arrived in Italy. I need to investigate further but my sense of judgement at the time of writing this blog (during my return flight to London) is that he might have landed at the exact place where his statue is raised.

Readers of my blog will know that I am very interested in maritime heritage and maritime history – I blogged about the story of John Manjiro on 29 January this year – and I am encouraging my colleagues to bring good maritime histories to the attention of people and the general public, in order to attract their attention to our wonderful maritime history and maritime heritage. I believe that this is a good and effective way to highlight the importance of shipping and international trade in our life today, and that public awareness of IMO’s activities can also be enhanced by understanding this historical context. I am personally very interested in this way of seeking and promoting our outreach activities.

In 1600, the Englishman William Adams landed on the western island of Japan because his ship, the Dutch vessel De Liefde, had run aground and been wrecked. He survived, and passed on his knowledge of western shipbuilding technology to Japan. He served Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and himself became a samurai, Miura Anjin – the first and last Englishman to be a samurai . He built two western-style sailing ships with Japanese shipbuilders. One of them, the San Buena Ventura, was given to the then Spanish General Governor of the Philippines, Rodrigo de Vivero, to enable him and his own ships’ crew – who had also been shipwrecked on the coast of Japan – to return to the Spanish territory in America which is now known as Mexico.

Tokugawa Ieyasu was interested to promote trade with Spain and attempted to contract a treaty, but it never came to fruition. Another warrior chief, daimyo Date Masamune, shared the ambition of Ieyasu and also built a galleon-style ship, the San Juan Bautista, using the technology passed to the Japanese by William Adams. He sent this ship on a formal mission to Spain, in 1614 – 400 years ago. There is a replica of this ship in Ishinomaki, in the northern part of Japan. The replica was caught up in the tsunami of 2011 but survived and is now on display to the general public in a maritime museum in Ishinomaki.

The head of that mission was Hasekura Tsunenaga and, as his mission navigated eastbound through the Pacific Ocean from Japan, he called at Acapulco in Mexico. The mission then travelled further eastwards and, on arrival in Spain, he met King Filipe III. The mission continued eastbound and eventually arrived at Rome where Hasekura Tsunenaga met the Pope, Paulus V, and received the honorary title of Roman Citizen.

Eventually he turned back to Japan via the present-day Mexico and through the Pacific Ocean; but when he arrived home, Christianity had been already prohibited in Japan and the country was eventually closed against foreign countries, except for a window in Nagasaki for the Dutch people. Thus the objective of Hasekura Tsunenaga’s mission, to open trade with Spain, was not realised.

Today, in 2014, I saw, by chance, the statue of Hasekura Tsunenaga near Civitavecchia. Standing in front of the statue, I really felt the power of our remarkable maritime history; and it helped me to see the crucial work carried out by IMO for the maritime community in the 21st century in its true historical perspective.

Koji

18 September 2014
Decision not to seek reappointment
Today, on 18 September 2014,  at my regular Informal Briefing of the Secretary General to Member Governments at the IMO Headquarters, I provided my views on important issues on the agenda of IMO, including the study of financial sustainability of the World Maritime University (WMU),  preparation for the implementation of the Mandatory IMO Member State Audit Scheme,  maritime security issues, including the issue of maritime migrants, and important issues at the forthcoming MSC and MEPC meetings, such as the implementation of the BWM Convention and finalization of the Polar Code.
I spoke about my expectations for young and future generations in supporting the future of the IMO. 
Furthermore, I spoke about my decision not to seek reappointment as the Secretary-General at the fulfilment of my current term at the end of 2015, due to personal reasons related to the health of my wife. I stated as follows:
"I would like to retire from IMO at the end of the current term which expires at the end of 2015. I will not seek reappointment.
This is because of my desire to ensure my support to my wife, who has a serious health issue, and I would like to ensure that, when needed, I could give more time for her care and support for her immune system problems.
This March and April, her problem flared up. Because of making the necessary arrangements for her care, I could not fully maintain my commitment to the work of IMO and I had to compromise my planned travel schedule in April.
Thanks to the effort of the medical service in this country, she is recovering. She is receiving excellent medical care in this country and I am very pleased with the current status of recovery. But she needs continuous health care.
My core reason for not seeking reappointment is that if she becomes unwell again in the future, that could affect my duty and responsibilities and I may have to compromise my work, in order to ensure her care. I hope she will not become unwell again, of course, but I know, that cannot be guaranteed, and it could be more so if I was honoured for another term of four years, and I cannot accept not being able to one hundred percent commit myself to the work of IMO.
This is the reason for not seeking reappointment.
When I put myself forward for the position of Secretary-General in 2010, we were fairly confident that she would be OK under the treatment and that I would be able to concentrate on my work as the Secretary-General, if elected. This has been the case up until this March.
Now, we encountered the reality and I am having to take everything into serious consideration in order to avoid the possibility of potential problems in the future.
As the Chinese saying goes, “the person who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” 
Therefore, I have made up my mind not to seek reappointment. I am sure that there are a number of highly-qualified people who can replace me and lead the Organization towards the future. But nobody can replace me to take care of her.
In our life, I believe that what is the most important thing is to be honest to yourself. I was honest when I proposed to her some forty years ago.  I was always honest to myself when I applied for a post at IMO and resigned from the Transport Ministry of Japan. I was honest to myself when I challenged myself to become the Secretary-General and I was always honest to my judgement when I took any initiatives as the Secretary-General in dealing with major management issues of this Organization. And again, I am honest and loyal to myself in taking this major decision in my life.
I believe that my decision is good for her in the first instance, and good for the Organization and also good for me.
I would therefore seek kind understanding from Member Governments. Particularly those who rigorously supported me from the beginning of the selection process in 2011.
Review and Reform is making progress and for the rest of my term as the Secretary-General, I will continue to put all my time and effort into IMO until I retire at the end of 2015.
Therefore, I would like to seek continuous support and cooperation from Member Governments and permanent representatives and the staff in the Secretariat. 
I will inform the Council of this decision through a formal document soon.”
 
Koji

18 September 2014

Decision not to seek reappointment

Today, on 18 September 2014,  at my regular Informal Briefing of the Secretary General to Member Governments at the IMO Headquarters, I provided my views on important issues on the agenda of IMO, including the study of financial sustainability of the World Maritime University (WMU),  preparation for the implementation of the Mandatory IMO Member State Audit Scheme,  maritime security issues, including the issue of maritime migrants, and important issues at the forthcoming MSC and MEPC meetings, such as the implementation of the BWM Convention and finalization of the Polar Code.

I spoke about my expectations for young and future generations in supporting the future of the IMO.

Furthermore, I spoke about my decision not to seek reappointment as the Secretary-General at the fulfilment of my current term at the end of 2015, due to personal reasons related to the health of my wife. I stated as follows:

"I would like to retire from IMO at the end of the current term which expires at the end of 2015. I will not seek reappointment.

This is because of my desire to ensure my support to my wife, who has a serious health issue, and I would like to ensure that, when needed, I could give more time for her care and support for her immune system problems.

This March and April, her problem flared up. Because of making the necessary arrangements for her care, I could not fully maintain my commitment to the work of IMO and I had to compromise my planned travel schedule in April.

Thanks to the effort of the medical service in this country, she is recovering. She is receiving excellent medical care in this country and I am very pleased with the current status of recovery. But she needs continuous health care.

My core reason for not seeking reappointment is that if she becomes unwell again in the future, that could affect my duty and responsibilities and I may have to compromise my work, in order to ensure her care. I hope she will not become unwell again, of course, but I know, that cannot be guaranteed, and it could be more so if I was honoured for another term of four years, and I cannot accept not being able to one hundred percent commit myself to the work of IMO.

This is the reason for not seeking reappointment.

When I put myself forward for the position of Secretary-General in 2010, we were fairly confident that she would be OK under the treatment and that I would be able to concentrate on my work as the Secretary-General, if elected. This has been the case up until this March.

Now, we encountered the reality and I am having to take everything into serious consideration in order to avoid the possibility of potential problems in the future.

As the Chinese saying goes, “the person who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” 

Therefore, I have made up my mind not to seek reappointment. I am sure that there are a number of highly-qualified people who can replace me and lead the Organization towards the future. But nobody can replace me to take care of her.

In our life, I believe that what is the most important thing is to be honest to yourself. I was honest when I proposed to her some forty years ago.  I was always honest to myself when I applied for a post at IMO and resigned from the Transport Ministry of Japan. I was honest to myself when I challenged myself to become the Secretary-General and I was always honest to my judgement when I took any initiatives as the Secretary-General in dealing with major management issues of this Organization. And again, I am honest and loyal to myself in taking this major decision in my life.

I believe that my decision is good for her in the first instance, and good for the Organization and also good for me.

I would therefore seek kind understanding from Member Governments. Particularly those who rigorously supported me from the beginning of the selection process in 2011.

Review and Reform is making progress and for the rest of my term as the Secretary-General, I will continue to put all my time and effort into IMO until I retire at the end of 2015.

Therefore, I would like to seek continuous support and cooperation from Member Governments and permanent representatives and the staff in the Secretariat.

I will inform the Council of this decision through a formal document soon.”

 

Koji