Foster Your Abilities of Judgment: German Ambassador’s Advice to Chuo Students


[Compilation of German Week―Ending with a lecture by the German ambassador]

 The final day of Chuo University International Week – Germany on July 10, which looked hard at Germany, and had us taking another look at Japan, concluded with a special project / lecture by inviting German Ambassador to Japan, Volker Stanzel, to Chuo University Tama Campus. Renowned Japanophile, Ambassador Stanzel enjoyed green tea after the lecture, and participated in training with aikido club members and instructors in the gymnasium.
 The ambassador was an exchange student at Kyoto University in 1972. During that time he joined the aikido club, and his lecture for this event was delivered in Japanese.

[150 years of Japanese-German relations―Common points and historical views]

 The title of this lecture was What can we learn from 150 years of Japanese-German relations?

 Ambassador Stanzel majored in Japanese studies, Chinese studies and politics when he went to the University of Frankfurt at the age of around 20. He is well versed in Japanese-German and German-Asian relations.

 The ambassador started the lecture by asking the audience of students about images Japanese people hold about Germany, such as beer, Mercedes Benz (automobile), Beethoven (composer) and soccer. On the other hand, he gave examples of images that German people hold about Japan, such as sushi, manga, animation, and the Fukushima nuclear accident.

 Japanese and Germans both hold high interests in each other’s country and carry similar values. Commenting on how relations have deepened through many common points such as the characters of both peoples being hard-working and thinking in the same competitive manner – the ambassador spoke about the historical viewpoints over the 150 years of relations between Japan and Germany.

[Importance of the ability to make decisions and having an observant eye]

 On a big screen appeared the stern faces of Germany and Japan national team goalkeepers Oliver Kahn and Eiji Kawashima. The camera closed in on their faces and the ambassador called out to the audience, “What is important is the ability to make judgments. Goalkeepers must think about where the ball is going to come from. You should all foster your thinking ability.”

 After the Great East Japan Earthquake, Germany, in a policy U-turn, has abandoned nuclear as a form of energy supply and is searching for alternative energy sources, a move which has garnered support from 80% of its citizens. Ambassador Stanzel casts suspicion on this by asking if “this was the right decision or not,” appealing his case for the importance of the ability to make judgments. You must be a keen observer in order to foster decision-making abilities. As an example, the ambassador mentioned writer Ogai Mori who observed Germany in detail during his time studying medicine abroad and wrote his novel Maihime. Ambassador Stanzel highly praised the novel because it graphically describes Germany of the time and the life of Japanese exchange students.

 Ambassador Stanzel continued by giving strength to the students in saying, “Try making judgments on your teachers’ words by yourself. The ability to judge isn’t something you have learnt or something you can acquire by imitation. The ability to make decisions yourself, this is important in everyday life, university life, and even after entering the workforce.”

 In the question and answer session he replied to eight questions from Chuo students, giving an analysis that “Japan and Germany are similar countries with the differences being that Japan is an island country and Germany, being in the centre of Europe, has a strong awareness of international issues.”

 After the lecture, Stanzel was presented a bouquet of flowers and a CD of a mixed chorus singing of Beethoven, and he left the venue while being sent off by students cramming the auditorium.

[Experiencing Japanese Culture at Chuo University]

 At the tea ceremony room “Kyohaku-an”, Ambassador Stanzel was treated to green tea served by the tea ceremony club with Chancellor and President Tadahiko Fukuhara. Afterwards, in the Gymnasium No.1, he changed into a uniform presented to him by the university, and practiced with the aikido team for about 30 minutes. Having learnt aikido during his time as a student at Kyoto University, he was in his element, and even in sparring with a serious opponent, with superior judgment skills, he didn’t allow his opponent any space to take advantage. At the end he was presented with a wooden sword, and he bowed and said, “I will never forget today’s training. Thank you.”

 The ambassador’s lecture and aikido became a thing that will never be forgotten by Chuo University students.


<Brief history> Born in Kronberg in 1948. Majored in Japanese studies, Chinese studies and politics at the University of Frankfurt from 1968. Studied at Kyoto University from 1972. Entered the Foreign Ministry in 1979 and earned his PhD from the University of Cologne in 1980. After that he has held positions in the Italian Embassy, South Yemen Embassy, Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Bundestag as faction diplomat, Foreign Ministry Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Policy Department chief, Foreign Ministry Policy Bureau chief (in charge of Asia, Africa and Central and South America), and Ambassador to China, before taking up his current position in December 2009.  He is currently planning walks in Shibamata, Tokyo, on his days off. His blog Ambassador’s Diary can be found on the German Embassy’s homepage (see link below).

[Special lecture held on June 20]

 For International Week (Germany), a special lecture titled, German Economy and Business was held on June 20.

 Three speakers were present, with Minister at the German Embassy, Beate Maeder-Metcalf, talking on the theme of Issues in Current Japanese-German Business Relations. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Germany became the first nation in the industrialized world to commit to non-proliferation of nuclear energy. He emphasized the circumstances and effects behind the change in policy of supplying power with renewable energy sources. Being on the topic of greatest concern these days, the sight of students pushing forward in the venue to listen stood out.

 Next, Hans-Dieter Hausner, President and CEO of Bayer Holding Ltd., internationally renowned pharmaceutical company famous for its discovery of the fever-alleviating painkiller Aspirin, talked about his company’s social contributions with the aim of improving quality of life under the title, The Appeal of German Business: The Case of Bayer Holding Ltd. He intimately spoke on familiar topics including the current state of the company with over 150 years of history centering around healthcare, agricultural chemicals, and advanced materials, and its status as an older brother to Chuo University, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010.

 The first two speeches were given with simultaneous translations, but the third speaker, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Japan Office head, Georg K. Löer, surprised the audience by delivering his speech in fluent Japanese. His topic was, North Rhine-Westphalia: European Business Hub of Japanese Companies. In his lecture, Löer called for luring more Japanese companies with a comfortable way of life where Japanese can apply themselves to business, study and research.

 Each speaker spoke for 20 minutes. Valuable data was shown on a big screen, and the sight of participating students listening attentively left an impression.