Ms. Claire Deronzier
Delegate General, Québec Representation Office in Tokyo
Interview with Ms. Claire Deronzier, Delegate General, Québec Representation Office in Tokyo.
—Québec is one of the founding members of the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) and plays a very important role in working towards its construction and development. Could you give us some examples of the actions that Québec has taken within the framework of the IOF?
The International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) is the only intergovernmental and interstate organization of which Québec has been a member in full standing, since 1971. The contribution made by Québec to the conceptualization of a multilateral “Francophonie” has been recognized, and its commitment is a long-term one as proven by its leadership and determination to promote French as a significant international language, and as a language of business and economic development.
For Québec, with a population that accounts for only 2% of the inhabitants of North America, participation in the international francophone community provides a direct access to more than one third of United Nations member countries.
Furthermore, Québec has a reputation for being both innovative and pragmatic. Here are a few examples:
- Québec hosted two “Francophonie” summits, in 1987 and 2008.
- Québec City, capital of the province of Québec, hosted the first French Language World Forum in July 2012.
- The province of Québec hosts the headquarters of three organizations associated with the IOF, in Québec and in Montreal: Institut de La Francophonie pour le Développement Durable (Francophonie Institute for Sustainable Development), Agence universitaire de La Francophonie (Francophone University Association), and TV5 (Québec/Canada).
- Several Québecois have presided over decision-making francophone organizations over the years. Since January 2015, Ms. Michaëlle Jean has held the prestigious position of Secretary General of La Francophonie.
- More recently, in June 2015, Québec implemented its commitment to support skills development in the area of youth politics among La Francophonie member states and governments.
—The Québec Representation Office in Japan is also very active and militant in terms of promoting La Francophonie. What does being a francophone state in Japan mean?
It is an advantage of the Québec Government Office in Japan to promote Québec’s culture and identity, and to do so in French. That is what sets us apart! The Japanese have a great admiration for the French language. In 2014-2015, as vice president of the Council for the Promotion of La Francophonie in Japan, I represented Québec and the Council at numerous activities in Kobe, Kyoto and Tokyo that were attended by over 3000 people. These activities gave attendees an opportunity to discover a diverse range of cultures. Council members together promote the learning of French in Japan, and represent the values of solidarity, democracy and respect of this cultural diversity.
In terms of public diplomacy, the presence of Québec within the Council enables it to broaden its network of contacts with the Japanese government, with Francophile diplomats, and with embassies in Japan.
I would add to this the development of a greater cultural outreach by Québec in various parts of Japan. The Japanese Association for Québec Studies is very active, bringing together over 100 members who love Québec, its culture and of course the French language. Meiji University has been offering a course on Québec for the last 12 years and which is attended by over 100 students a year. Our delegation also collaborates with partners, including the French Institute network in Japan, to introduce Québec’s works and take part in joint projects.
Finally, the members of the Council for the Promotion of Francophonie in Japan wish to offer their support to the Japanese Government, the city of Tokyo, and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to facilitate the use of the French language and the intercultural dialogue with Japanese during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
—You recently took a Japanese delegation to French Language World Forum 2015 in Liège, Belgium. Why was it important for you to be there? What is the relationship/link between the IOF and Japan?
The presence of a Japanese delegation in Liège is an initiative of the Council for the Promotion of La Francophonie in Japan, with the support of the Global Communications Office of the Prime Minister’s Office, under Prime Minister Abe.
We are very proud of this delegation which consisted of seven young Japanese whose presence was acknowledged by Ms. Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the International Organization of La Francophonie.
Japan fascinates people, as much francophones as anyone else, and the young Japanese became media stars. I had a pleasure of moderating a 90-minute workshop in which each made a presentation in French on a specific aspect of Japan. As for the young people themselves, they had an unforgettable experience, which means that there are now seven new ambassadors of Francophonie in Japan. Quite a success!
—In Japan, Québec is well-known for some of its consumer products, the most famous of which is maple syrup. How would you describe the commercial ties between Québec and Japan?
Japan is Québec’s seventh largest customer worldwide. The first noteworthy element is that Québec and Japan have complementary economies. The Japanese are keen on Québec’s food products and the Québec consumers buy Japanese cars. Over the years, the range of Québec’s foodstuff available in Japan, has grown consistently. In addition to the quality of its products, I should also mention that the system of traceability for meat products in Québec, one that is unique in North America, is very prized by the Japanese as an additional food safety measure.
With regard to products derived from the maple, for which Québec assures 80% of the global supply, these are very popular with the Japanese due to their natural origin, their unique taste, and their health benefits. It is also important to mention that Québec is a world leader in aeronautics, in information technology including video games and multimedia, as well as in biotechnology. Products from these fields are also available in Japan.
Our role at the Quebec Representation Office in Japan is to provide support for Québec’s exporters with their Japanese partners, to promote investment in Québec and to support our artists and the promotion of Québec’s culture in Japan.