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On August 8, 2019, the International School Network visited the Norwegian Embassy to interview the Minister Counsellor (Chargé d'Affaires a.i.), Mr. Tom Knappskog. 

Mr. Knappskog explained the importance of the value of education in Norway. Education is free to high school and university levels and has a focus on democracy. A similarity of education between Norway and Japan is that students are curious to learn and engage in world-class education and research. 



Mr. Knappskog explained the culture of Norway to have a joint historical, language, and cultural heritage. There is a strong focus on equality, and opportunities are close to equal for all cohorts, no matter gender or ethnicity. People are confident in their cultural heritage and are working to preserve it. 

As an advanced economy, Norway's strengths are in its oil and gas exports. Anyhow, Mr. Knappskog notes that a well-rounded economy should be advanced in various aspects, including education, equality, work-life balance, and natural preservation. Norway ranks highly in such elements, founded on strong cultural and societal values.

Tourism in Norway is also very significant. The diversity in nature in Norway brings about different cultures that people can visit and appreciate. For example, Mr. Knappskog noted that in the West, there are fjords and mountains. Meanwhile, the North is famous for its midnight sun in the summer. Because of its latitude, the Northernmost part of Norway (located above the arctic circle) receives no sunlight in the winter and receives sunlight all day in the summer. He also recommends tourists to visit Norway's spring festivals​.


Gender equality is something that strong men and women have fought for decades. It started as a fight for political rights and has been continuing today. Norway has come a long way in this aspect. Now, Mr. Knappskog notes that women have gained political, social, and economic rights, and although unperfect, Norway has been a forefront in this equality. Nevertheless, in the private sector, most CEOs are men. There must be more adaptation that changes the economic structure of social security and parental leave systems.
Mr. Knappskog explained that politics has a major responsibility for changing society. In Norway, many women's associations and parties have been nominating women and voting for women candidates in government. 


Norway-Japan Relations
Norway gained independence in 1905, and Japan was one of the first countries to recognize it. Even before independence in the 19th century, Mr. Knappskog noted that the two countries have been establishing relations through shipping. Shipping is still an important business today.
Trade between the two countries includes Japanese cars, and Norwegian salmon (used for sushi!). 
The two countries also cooperate in fields such as environmental policies and research, especially on the Arctic. Being countries close to the seas, Mr. Knappskog stated that our closeness to the waters "binds us together despite the distance." 
Mr. Knappskog hopes that this relationship can continue to improve and hopes to see more trade and student exchanges.


Mr. Knappskog's passion as the Minister Counsellor of the Norwegian Embassy is his participation in improving relations, and his life in Japan.
Before he became a diplomat, Mr. Knappskog's childhood dream had been to become a football player and then later a journalist. Mr. Knappskog enjoys traveling to see new people and places.

"Peace needs to start somewhere." Mr. Knappskog explained that there must be increased knowledge and understanding between nations and cultures by every global citizen. He also mentioned that it is essential that we do not believe everything but to make our observations and understanding of what is happening in the world. 

Mr. Knappskog's message fo students are to "seek to increase the knowledge of other people." He hopes that people around the world can engage in their studies thoroughly, and also communicate well with others.

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