Japanese honour for local
Geraldton resident Terry O’Toole has been recognised by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs for his services in the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and Australia.
Minister Fumio Kishida has bestowed commendations on 187 people and 45 groups worldwide, with Mr O’Toole among four WA recipients.
A teacher and former City of Greater Geraldton councillor, Mr O’Toole played a key role in the establishment of the Geraldton-Arai/Kosai sister city relationship in 1993.
He also worked to create the Australia-Japan Society of Geraldton, of which he was president for more than 20 years.
Through his efforts, more than 300 students and community members were given the opportunity to visit Japan and Mr O’Toole has dedicated many years to promoting grassroots exchange between the two countries.
Mr O’Toole received word of his nomination for the commendation last month and said he was thrilled with the honour.
“My involvement with the Australia-Japan Society of Geraldton has been a magnificent journey and one which has enabled me to develop many Japanese friendships, both socially and in the business world,” he said.
“I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given to travel to Japan, and through teaching, I have enjoyed being able to share Japanese culture with others, especially young people.”
Mr O’Toole said his interest in culture stemmed from university, where he studied sociology.
“This allowed me to better understand my own background as well as the backgrounds of others,” he said.
“I learnt the importance of being both adaptable and flexible in my dealings with the world.”
Having first travelled to Japan in 1995, Mr O’Toole has now visited the country 10 times.
“There are always more trips on the agenda,” he said.
“My friends over there always asking me when I am coming next.
“Japanese people are very genuine and very helpful — each trip has been a wonderful time.
“When you’re over there you immerse yourself in the culture, and experiences like that you cannot buy.”
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