RI President: Rotarians promoting service and peace

President Tanaka and club presidents from Hong Kong visit a site in Mongolia. Photo by Peter Pang

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

Throughout my travels in September, I saw Rotarians promoting Peace Through Service and diligently helping others.

One event that comes to mind, which I attended in September, was the 11th Korea-Japan Goodwill Conference in Tokyo. It brought together more than 1,400 Rotarians from two countries that are experiencing conflict. I was proud to see Rotarians talking about promoting friendship between their countries. Many Rotarians feel that, despite what politicians say, Rotarians share common ideals of service, and this attitude can help transcend conflict. Continue reading

Using vocational service to build peace

RI President Sakuji Tanaka

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

In Japan, we place great importance on the value of work. Whatever we are called to do, we should do it to the very best of our abilities, with dignity and with pride. Whether the job is running a country or shining shoes, there is honor in every vocation.

I grew up embracing this belief, but I had never stopped to contemplate it. One day, in my third year in Rotary, we had a speaker at our club who talked about the purpose of one’s livelihood. He asked, why do we work hard? What is the importance of our work? Continue reading

RI President: Receiving a goat in Kenya

RI President Sakuji Tanaka receives a goat as a gift during his visit in Kenya.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

While I was in Africa recently, I traveled through eight countries and nine cities, meeting people and projects along the way. What I saw amazed me.

For example, I met Rotarians who had an impressive ability to identify the needs of orphaned children. They were using grants from The Rotary Foundation to help support a dairy farm in Kenya. Continue reading

A soggy lobster bake shines with Rotary spirit

Marty Peak Helman with RI President Sakuji Tanaka during the Changeover ceremony in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, 1 July. Photo by Ann Lee Hussey

By Marty Peak Helman, governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, USA)

On his first day as RI President, Sakuji Tanaka joined Rotarians in my hometown of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, taking part in a Changeover ceremony for six district governors and 46 club presidents.

Rotarians came from Quebec, New York, New Jersey, and all over New England – some making a 10-hour drive — in order to shake hands with Tanaka-san, hear him speak, and be formally inducted by him into their new Rotary offices. It was a remarkable honor for all. Continue reading

RI President: Parade grand marshal

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (right) served as grand marshal in Evanston’s Independence Day parade. With him are RI General Secretary John Hewko and his wife, Marga.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

I was honored to have been the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Being in the parade was a great opportunity to represent Rotary and the work of Rotarians — especially our polio eradication efforts.

Despite the record heat, I was surprised at the number of people who lined the streets well in advance of the parade in order get a place along the route. It was an impressive display of patriotism. I was happy to have been a part of this event, and I hope that future Rotary International presidents participate in this parade. Continue reading

RI President: Through service, we can bring peace

RI President Sakuji Tanaka

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

It’s a great honor to serve as your 2012-13 RI president and represent you in Rotary.  Since joining this organization in 1975, it has changed my life and given me more than I ever anticipated. I look forward to sharing some of that with you.

Through Rotary, I learned the purpose of my life wasn’t to earn more, but to help others.  Through our service, we learn that the problems that may seem large to us are really very small. Continue reading

Rotarians in Japan work to bring back a local economy


To celebrate the rebirth of northeastern Japan’s fishing industry after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, five Rotary clubs in the Oshu-Mizusawa area threw a party in September at the Plaza Inn Mizusawa. The guests enjoyed a dinner that showcased fish from Ofunato, a coastal town in Iwate Prefecture.

Before the event, Plaza Inn chef Kowa Sato, a member of the Rotary Club of Mizusawa-Isawa, drove about 25 miles with his team to buy fish at the Ofunato market, which had reopened that May. The video above featuring Sato captures the sushi-making process from start to finish. Continue reading