Name: Alan Beraud
Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Argentina (since April 21, 2016)
DoB: June 7, 1957
Hometown: Buenos Aires
Years in Japan: 2
Bright sunshine lit up the room when Ambassador Alan Beraud, sporting an Argentine blue tie, walked in and introduced himself with the warm smile and confidence of a career diplomat.
Beraud spent his early years growing up in Entre Rios, an inland province in the Mesopotamia region of Argentina. His family eventually moved to Buenos Aires and he completed his education there, studying law at the University of Buenos Aires.
“I became a diplomat (after) being a lawyer,” Beraud said. “I have always had in mind, as a diplomat and as a lawyer, that the most important thing is to create confidence … to practice, and to know how to make deals. I prepared myself in my long career for diplomatic service by dealing with treaties and agreements, from the big ones to the small ones.”
Having been the Argentine president’s representative in Japan since April 2016, he reminisced about the process of initiation. “Well actually, we ambassadors have a special date … there is a diplomat list, and we are included on this list from the moment we present (our) credentials (to the Emperor). It is a very ceremonial approach,” Beraud said. “First, you present copies of your credentials, which are the documents signed by the president. They are addressed to the head of state of the receiving country, so this document has a copy, and the copy is presented to the minister of foreign affairs. From that moment on we can work, officially.”
Style and ceremony are clearly characteristics he feels Japan shares with Argentina. “We share a lot of common values. The most important values are democracy and human rights. We are on the same frequency, in that nowadays we have a very particular, common approach to international affairs, too,” he said.
The ambassador’s broad perspective was evident as he described the newly established strategic relationship between Japan and Argentina: “It is a political recognition that we are working together, with a spectrum of possibilities. The panoramic view is a very good one.”
This year’s Group of 20 summit will take place in Argentina, with Mauricio Macri, president of Argentina, holding the yearlong position as the president of this year’s G20. Japan will host next year’s G20 summit in Osaka, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slated to serve as the president of the 2019 forum.
This is something that Beraud affirmed as significant to the growing relationship between Japan and Argentina. “Together with the same idea, and both acting as president, means we both have a big involvement with the way of seeing the world … and how things should be done. It’s not an ideal world, so we have to deal with all of the circumstances.”
Given his country’s great culinary traditions, the conversation naturally turned to food. Argentina, famous for its beef and wine, recently closed negotiations on a beef trade deal with Japan and Beraud happily noted that a shipment of Argentine beef was making its way to Japan.
“Next week comes the first container of Argentinian beef in the history of Japan,” he said. “We want Japanese people to enjoy that here, at home, because it was not possible in Japan (prior to making the deal). Now it is going to be possible.” He went on to explain that he would soon be extolling the delights of Argentine beef in a country famous for wagyu.
Although the competition is strong, he believes Japanese diners will be pleased. “Everybody says that Argentine beef is the best in the world. We want Japanese people to enjoy that,” he said, smiling with pride. Beraud has his sights set on Argentine beef and other meats being easily available throughout Japan for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Regarding politics and overall trade between Japan, the third-largest economy in the world, and Argentina, an invaluable global food supplier, Beraud conceded: “Both countries can do much better … and we have a relationship that should be more trade-related. We are promoting this trade, and also investment opportunities for Japanese enterprises in Argentina.”
The United States and the European Union have been Argentina’s traditional trade partners, but recently they have been much more focused on Asia. “We expect much more Japanese trade and Japanese investment with this new approach,” said Beraud.
Recently, he visited Okinawa to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the migration of Okinawan people to Argentina. Among Argentina’s population of around 40 million, there are about 54,000 people of Japanese descent living there today, something Beraud spoke about at length.
“They are very kind. I met them in Argentina before coming, because there is a big community there and they are very well-organized,” he said. “There is an Okinawan association of Japanese descendants in Argentina, which is very powerful.”
He takes great pride in being the ambassador during this historic milestone. “In 2016, the same year I arrived here, we were celebrating the 120th anniversary of the presence of Japanese migration in Argentina. One-hundred and twenty years is a big moment for the relationship; it means that Japan is our oldest Asian friend. The Japanese community is the Asian community in Argentina, the oldest one in the country. So this is very important — it shows that there is a long friendship.”
Calm but passionate, Beraud clearly regards his responsibility with pride and a sense of honor. “Your word and your presence is your country’s presence, so that is quite important and I feel very proud of that … it’s very rewarding,” he said with a smile.
A storied career in international law
Alan Beraud and his family moved to Buenos Aires when he was 5 years old and he eventually attended the University of Buenos Aires to study law. This was the start of a long, successful career in international law. A variety of positions, such as working as a trained legal advisor for the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, prepared him for his position as a diplomat. Working with the International Court of Justice and in conjunction with the World Trade Organization were also key moments in his career. He returned to his alma mater to teach international law, educating future lawyers and, possibly, future diplomats. Beraud enjoys exploring the quiet neighborhood where the Argentine embassy is located, as well as two things that Japan and Argentina have in common — hot springs and tea.
The Big Questions is a Monday interview series showcasing prominent figures who have a strong connection to Japan.