Kaikai ni atatte, kaichō kara hitokoto go-aisatsu o sasete-itadakimasu. (Prior to the opening of our meeting, our president will give us greetings and a word.)

Situation 1: An emcee introduces the company president at the start of an company-wide meeting.

司会: では、開会にあたって、会長から一言ご挨拶をさせていただきます。

会長: 会長の清水です。本日はお忙しいところ、大勢の方々にお越しいただき、ありがとうございます。

Shikai: Dewa, kaikai ni atatte, kaichō kara hitokoto go-aisatsu o sasete-itadakimasu.

Kaichō: Kaichō no Shimizu desu. Honjitsu wa o-isogashii tokoro, ōzei no katagata ni o-koshi-itadaki, arigatō gozaimasu.

Emcee: Well then, prior to the opening of our meeting, our president will give us greetings and a word.

President: I’m Shimizu, the chairperson. Thank you very much to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules and coming here today.

The verb 当(あ)たる, means to hit, win and get. When it is used in the structure “Xにあたって、Y,” however, it indicates a time when someone faces something formal, and can be translated as “on the occasion of” or “prior to.” “X” is a noun or a verb in its dictionary form that expresses a special event and “Y” is the clause that expresses the speaker’s or another person’s actions:

新(あたら)しいシステムを導入(どうにゅう)するにあたって、社員(しゃいん)研修(けんしゅう)を行(おこ)ないたい。 (Prior to our introduction of the new system, we’d like to conduct employee training.)

The ~にあたって pattern sounds rather formal, which is why it is used in Situation 1. An even more formal version is “Xにあたり、Y,” as can be seen in the Bonus Dialogue.

Situation 2: Continued from Situation 1. After the president’s introduction, a lawyer delivers a lecture on inheritance tax.

弁護士: 遺産の相続に際して、多額の税金がかかります。そのことを意識して、元気なうちに対策を立てておかなければなりません。

Bengoshi: Isan no sōzoku ni saishite, tagaku no zeikin ga kakarimasu. Sono koto o ishiki shite, genkina uchi ni taisaku o tatete-okanakereba narimasen.

Lawyer: Coming into an inheritance incurs a large amount of tax. With that in mind, we must take the proper steps while we are still active and healthy.

In most cases, “Xにあたって、Y” can be replaced by “Xに際(さい)して、Y,” as both have the meaning of “on the occasion of.” Strictly speaking, however, “Xにあたって、Y” includes the connotation that “Y” is done in advance or in preparation for “X,” whereas “Xに際して、Y,” simply indicates that Y is done at the beginning of X.

Bonus Dialogue: Eric Sere and his girlfriend, Yuri, are watching the dean of a prestigious university make a speech via YouTube.

学長(がくちょう): 今日(きょう)は、コロナウイルスの感染(かんせん)拡大(かくだい)を懸念(けねん)した結果(けっか)卒業式(そつぎょうしき)が取(と)りやめになり、楽(たの)しみにしていた卒業生(そつぎょうせい)やご家族(かぞく)の方々(かたがた)には申し訳(もうしわけ)ない気持(きも)ちでいっぱいです。今日は、卒業にあたり、みなさんに贈(おく)りたい言葉(ことば)があります。それは、「命(いのち)が一番(いちばん)大切(たいせつ)だ」ということです。大学(だいがく)を卒業した後(あと)、何(なに)かの節目(ふしめ)で判断(はんだん)に迷(まよ)うことがあったら、この言葉を思(おも)い出(だ)してください。すべての人(ひと)の命を守(まも)るために、私(わたし)たちは、卒業式の開催(かいさい)をあきらめたのです。

ゆり: この学長、いいこと言(い)うね。エリックの時(とき)は、どんな話(はなし)だったの?

エリック: えーっと、同(おな)じように「卒業にあたって…」って言っていた。だから、「卒業式の後、福引(ふくびき)でもあるのかな、どんな賞品(しょうひん)が出(で)るのかな」ってずっと考(かんが)えていたんだ。

ゆり: あきれた!そんな日本語力(にほんごりょく)でよく卒業できたのね!

エリック: そのころは日本語(にほんご)を教(おし)えてくれる親切(しんせつ)なガールフレンドがいなかったからだよ。今は、ゆりがちゃんと教えてくれるから、大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)。

Dean: Our graduation ceremony was called off today as a result of concern over the spread of coronavirus, and I am incredibly sorry to the graduates and their families who were looking forward to it. Today, there are words I would like to present you with on the occasion of your graduation. Those are, “Life is the most important thing.” If you are confused at a turning point after graduating from college, remember these words. In order to protect our lives, we gave up on holding our graduation ceremony.

Yuri: This dean, he says good things. How was the speech at your graduation, Eric?

Eric: Hmmm, they said “On the occasion of your graduation” [and things] similar to that. So, I was thinking, “After the graduation ceremony are they going to give us prizes? What kind of products will I get?”

Yuri: Nuts! How could you graduate with such [level of] Japanese ability?

Eric: At that time, I didn’t have a kind girlfriend who could teach me Japanese. You teach me properly now, Yuri, so I’m OK.

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