It is a great pleasure for me to be with you all today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of TELL.
Exactly 50 years ago, on the first of April 1973, a TELL volunteer answered its first telephone call and provided free mental health counselling in English. Since then, TELL has been providing valuable counselling services to Japan’s international community. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the staff, volunteers and supporters of TELL for your precious contributions.
Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet some of TELL's board members, staff and volunteers. They showed me their warm hearts and strong will to support people through effective and professional services. They told me about the embassies, corporates, international schools, volunteers, and donors who make it possible to organize TELL so that it can continue to carry out its mission. It was a genuine pleasure to get to know such a dedicated group of people, and I felt very encouraged by them.
TELL plays a crucial role in mental health provision. The TELL Lifeline provides an English-language telephone and chat service throughout Japan by well-trained volunteers. TELL provides counselling anywhere in Japan via online teletherapy, or face-to-face counselling in Tokyo and Okinawa, with licensed therapists. TELL also carries out programs to promote mental health awareness, and conducts outreach to vulnerable communities and diverse corporates. It is amazing that TELL has been providing such comprehensive services, to an excellent standard.
I was very impressed by TELL's website, which is full of understanding and consideration for people who need help. Please let me read out some parts to share with you.
“It can take a lot of courage to ask for help.
We know it can be difficult to share what’s troubling you.
There is no rush, you can take your time.
Sharing your concerns can be an important step in confronting your worries, hearing a caring voice or seeing a caring statement can give you the strength to keep going and know you are not alone.”
Such words, not only on this website but also by telephone or in the counselling rooms or in the outreach programs must have reduced emotional distress, and saved many lives.
I have great respect for all of you who have been a part of these activities of TELL.
I wish good health to all of you, and hope that the very important service of TELL will be more widely recognized and utilized.
And please remember, you are not alone.
It is my great pleasure to be with you today, at the opening ceremony of the Asia Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Astronomical Union, held in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture.
The International Astronomical Union was founded in 1919 by astronomers from seven countries including Japan. Since then, it has been playing an important role in the development of various activities in astronomy, such as research and education, through international cooperation. I would like to express my sincere respect to all of you devoted to the field of astronomy. And I also deeply appreciate the effort of those who have been working hard to prepare this conference.
Since ancient times, people have been looking at the stars in the sky, researching astronomical phenomena, and making numerous discoveries. I have learned that recent research utilizing space telescopes, radio telescopes and other new technologies is uncovering clues that may help to solve many questions including how stars and galaxies were born and develop. I feel very excited that astronomical research is finding answers to the questions that we have been wondering about since childhood. Astronomy helps us to explore the universe. I am sure that astronomical research, discoveries and initiatives will continue to provide us with new perspectives, allowing us to deepen our thoughts about the universe.
The IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach in Tokyo carries out activities such as providing opportunities for children in Asia to experience astronomical observation, and for citizens to interact with astronomers. I imagine that these outreach activities will impress people and stimulate their interest in astronomy.
I remember my childhood, when I gazed at the stars shining in the darkness at campsites together with my family and friends, imagining and sharing thoughts about the universe. I also recall my precious experience with a portable planetarium that delivered a starry sky to children with difficulties such as illnesses, who have little opportunity to see the real stars in the sky. I cherish the memory of looking up at the projected stars with the children and their families, feeling as if we were traveling in space.
Here in Fukushima Prefecture, there are a number of locations in which you feel as if you can almost reach the shining stars and moon in the sky at night. Fukushima also has a historical astronomical site. In 1803, the Aizu Han, the feudal clan, built an astronomical observatory in its educational institution, and it remains as the only observatory site in Japan from that period. It would be my pleasure if you have a memorable time in Fukushima related to astronomy.
I hope that this conference will serve to promote future development in astronomy, astrophysics and planetary science. And I would like to close my address by wishing that this meeting in Fukushima will be very fruitful for all of you and further deepen our understanding of the universe and our world.