Farewell Meiho High School

Last Friday night the College hosted the farewell for our Japanese exchange students and their host families. It was a lovely evening where the boys spoke for a couple of minutes in English and taught us something of Japanese food and games. At the whole College assembly, one of the teachers,  Masafumi Tomikawa, (Tommy) gave a very moving speech. He has given us permission to share it with the school community. It demonstrates one of the reasons why these exchanges are so important.
Thank you for having us. As for me, this is the second time to be here. I really appreciate what you have been doing for us these two weeks and for three years.   I'm a school teacher, so I would like to talk about history. On the first day I came here, I found the names of 33 people, including 20 killed in World War Two, in front of the Chapel. I bowed to them silently.   Almost, really almost 70 years have passed since the end of World War Two. As one adult from Japan, as I love my country, I want to say, "Never again must we make the same mistake."     
Over 70 years ago, when my grandfather was a young man and my father was a schoolboy like you, they were not allowed to study English, they were not allowed to make friends with people who speak English. That was one aspect of the war Japan started along with the two countries in Europe.  I still remember my father saying when I was very young, "No study, no freedom. No study, no peace." I was not a good student, but it touches my heart. Not only English but also many things you are now enjoying, for example, sports like basketball and football, foreign music and comic books, were all prohibited under the war policy in Japan those days.
But now I`m very happy today to be able to say, "Times have changed." I am here with my students to study English and to know about culture of this beautiful country, Australia.  Friendship among young people from different countries will make this world a peaceful and wonderful place to live in. I asked these students to speak English as much as possible and make friends with as many people as possible. Please don`t hesitate to talk to us and ask us about anything you like. We are happy to try to answer. However, we are not always good at understanding what you say. I really thank you for your kindness and patience you have when communicating with us. 
 I do hope friendship between your school St Columban`s College and our school Meiho will continue and develop into the future.  Thank you.