Name: Jan Adams
Title: Ambassador of Australia
Hometown: Wodonga, Australia
Years in Japan: less than a year
What was your first encounter with Japan?
I have two answers. One is from a personal point of view. When I was in primary school, my grandmother went on a cruise to Yokohama. It must have been quite early on in the industry of cruise ships. I don’t remember exactly how old I was. But I was in primary school, and it was a very exotic thing for a lady to go on her own on a cruise ship to Japan, to Yokohama. She brought me back two beautiful Japanese porcelain dolls that were wearing silk kimono. I still have those dolls. Professionally, I first came to Japan in 1994. I worked in (Australia’s) Parliament House, I worked with a trade minister at the time. In those days Australia and Japan had (a working partnership) called the Australia Japan Ministerial Council, or AJMC. It’s evolved into different formulas now. But at that time, five (Australian) Cabinet ministers came on one trip to meet with their Japanese counterparts. I was lucky enough to come with my trade minister to Japan; that was my first professional contact.
Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?
Predictably, I would have to say being involved in the conclusion of the three North Asian free trade agreements with Japan, China and South Korea. I was extremely privileged to be working on those big economic agreements for many years; to be able to see them through to conclusion was a real highlight. And of course, that’s the reason why I earned my Order of Australia.
Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.
I don’t have a motto, as such. (But for this year, “Stay calm and carry on for 2021.”)
What has surprised you the most after arriving in Japan?
I’m really taken by how strongly the seasonal aspects come into play, how important the seasons are in everything from the food to the flowers to, of course, the gardens. I knew that Japan’s quite famous for its seasons. But nevertheless, it’s so ever-present, even down to a weekly basis: Which citrus is it this week? Which flower this week? And, and how foods reflect that. So I think that’s even more than I expected, in a very nice way. Just how much of it permeates the whole culture, the seasonal aspects.
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