On August 27, 2019, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Uruguay in Tokyo for an interview with the Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Ferrer.
In Uruguay, public education is free from preschool to university. H.E. Mr. Ferrer believes that education is the most important tool for an egalitarian society. He explained that the development of public education is a foundation that leads to equal opportunities for all citizens.
H.E. Mr. Ferrer also noted that all countries should continuously strive to improve the quality of education, alongside the changes of society. Uruguay has been working on providing citizens with IT devices for both the younger and older generations. Since about 12 years ago, Uruguay is successfully providing free laptops to primary school children, and is also giving tablets to senior citizens who cannot afford one for the purpose of information and entertainment.
Cultural values (Nanami)
H.E. Mr. Ferrer believes that a strong emphasis on democracy is a common value that unites the nation. The people of Uruguay actively exercise their political rights, and value voicing their opinions to improve their society. This is their major defining characteristic, and is one of the many reasons why they were able to make great changes to their country over the years. For instance, a great percentage of university students today are the very first generation in their families to attend receive college education. This shows that the cultural values of Uruguay are not only being preached but practiced, and the people are very united in their desires for constant social growth.
Uruguay has various tourist attractions, popular especially to visitors from neighboring countries. H.E. Mr. Ferrer recommends the beaches in Uruguay in the summer, because of its beauty and fine weather. H.E. Mr. Ferrer also recommends the colonial city from 4 centuries ago that depict the fusion of Portuguese and Spanish architecture, as Uruguay had been a borderland of wars.
Uruguay is very interactive in terms of environmental issues. Most of their energy come from wind energy, which developed a lot over the last 10 to 12 years. H.E. Mr. Ferrer said that Uruguay was able to take advantage of the strong winds coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, and went on to say that the winds are sometimes so strong that when it rains, people have to hold their umbrellas sideways. There is not as much emphasis on solar energy yet, but he informed us that several Japanese companies are currently developing solar energy based systems in Uruguay. In an article celebrating Uruguay’s 194th anniversary of their independence, H.E. Mr. Ferrer also mentioned that Uruguay uses sustainable processes when creating their delicacies such as their wine, cheese, and beef. It was very evident that the nation takes pride in their environmental efforts.
Uruguay-Japan relations (Madoka)
H.E. Mr. Ferrer expressed to us his optimism that the relations between Uruguay and Japan will be “brighter than ever”. H.E. Mr. Ferrer aims to increase political dialogues, economic links, and cultural exchanges between the two countries. H.E. Mr. Ferrer noted that Montevideo and Tokyo are capital cities that are the most furthest away from each other in the world! Yet despite such geographical distance, H.E. Mr. Ferrer is passionate about the almost-100 year relations between the two nations. It had been 110 years since the first group of Japanese people visited Uruguay, and H.E. Mr. Ferrer noted that even today, there are descendants of those Japanese people living in the country.
H.E. Mr. Ferrer identified its great business climate as one of Uruguay’s best qualities. Their social infrastructure allows for businesses to flourish while maintaining its dedication to environmental and social concerns. They also have a very grounded rule of law, which gives its citizens the ability to pursue their interests freely and safely. Under these circumstances, H.E. Mr. Ferrer believes that Uruguay is a desirable target for foreign investments. Uruguay and Japan have many similarities in terms of social outlook, which explains the very positive relations between the two nations. He encourages more interactions within its citizens, as Uruguay is welcoming of people of all backgrounds.
While globalization brings upon both good and bad aspects, H.E. Mr. Ferrer believes that it is a phenomenon that one cannot hide from. It is therefore the current generation’s necessity to promote the good aspects and overcome the challenges of globalization. H.E. Mr. Ferrer noted that there is no denying in the increasing interdependence and intercommunication between countries, so it is the aim for all countries to find suitable complementarities for mutual benefits.
Gender equality (Nanami)
Since the age of 16, H.E. Mr. Ferrer had wanted to become a diplomat. He was exposed to such interests when he did an exchange study in Los Angeles, USA for half a year. There, as a secondary school student, he studied international relations and government, which led him to become passionate about the topic from a young age. H.E. Mr. Ferrer encourages students to engage in exchange programs, which he noted are useful and helpful in opening one’s mind.
Ever since his first posting as a diplomat 42 years ago, H.E. Mr. Ferrer had been eager to work in Japan. He worked in Australia, Spain, Egypt, China, and India, and worked in the Ministry with Asian and Japanese issues but never worked in Japan until his current posting. H.E. Mr. Ferrer commented that he is an admirer of Japanese culture, especially since he met many Japanese people in Brazil in the 1970s. Working as the Ambassador of Uruguay to Japan, H.E. Mr. Ferrer is working to keep his aims alive, and also hopes to encourage others to never quit their objectives.