Hello everyone. MEXITOWN interviewed with Ambassador of Mexico in Japan, Melba Pria. She talked about how Japan and Mexico cooperate together in the international society and her favorite things in Japan. During the interview, we spent a great time to share our thoughts for Amistad of Japan and Mexico. Please take a look.
My 3 favorites in Japan
- Good morning, Ambassador Melba Pria. It is very honor to have an interview today. Let's start from the 1st question. What are the 3 impressive cultural events after you came to Japan?
Ambassador Melba: Thank you very much for proposing the interview. I am very happy to deliver my message to MEXITOWN readers. Well, my first Japan visit was 1982 and the second time, as an ambassador of Mexico in Japan, 2019 to 2023 are totally different.
Of course, I changed myself, but Japan became more open for foreginers. In my 1st visit, I didn't understand Japanese at all. Many signs in cities were only in Japanese. Right now, those are in Engish, Chinese, and Korean. That's why I realized that Japan became more open for foreigners.
For your question, my 3 impressive cultural events are followings:
Japanese traditional festivals
In Japan, there are many traditional festivals. They have many kind of roots such as seasons (summer festivals), or religious related ones. It's interesting for me that Mikoshi are not the same in each festivals. They have completely different characters and meanings.
Discovering around Japan by my bike
Last year, I traveled inside Japan by my bike from the Northest (Hokkaido) to Southest (Okinawa). I felt that Japan is richness country and so wonderful culture in each place. Okinawa has a jungle maybe no one can imagine Japan has a jungle. Kumano-Kodo is totally different from those kind of places too. Japan is very small island, but it has variety of faces. Discovering Japan by bike is the great experience.
Children in Japan
I love Japanese children (with a big smile)! They ar every cute and have a wonderful act anytime. Every time when I saw them, they are smiling and funny. We would like to create the confortable society for their future and keep the safe life.
Everybody can be an Ambassador of Mexico and Japan
- What do you think about how Japan and Mexico communicate (cooperate together) in International socienty?
Ambassador Melba: Japan and Mexico has a long history over 415 years. When Mexico met Japan, Mexico was the 80 years dependent from Spain. In this period, Japan has no engaged of foreign countries except the Dutch in Dejima island. Mexico met the Japan after Philipine. Thereafter, Japan opened the border and Mexico became the first country that recognized "Japan is the country". It means "You are equal to Mexico". Since then, Japan and Mexico has the tight relationship and ever had fight, no argument. Sometimes we have different opinion for diplomatic and world issues, but everytime we respect each other and work together.
In 2004, Japan and Mexico signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Mexico’s FTA with Japan was the first integral FTA of its kind signed by Japan, as the one they signed with Singapore it was only for economic services,
We share the same ocean, Pacific Ocean. We work together in International Organization.
Regarding the activities between us, I think everybody can be the ambassodor. The photografer, Seiji Shinohara is the good example for this case. So many artists impact for Mexico and they became the artists there. They will tell you what happened directly and make a strong and tight relationship. Not only country and country or state and state, but also the relationship between person and person, company and company.
This year, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) celebrates 50th year to establish thier office in Mexico. In addition, sister cities will celebrate years (Sendai and Acapulco(50 years), Nagoya and Mexico City (45 years), Ootaki and Cuernavaca (45 years), Onjuku and Acapulco (45 years), Mino and Cuernavaca (20 years), and Onjuku and Tecamachalco (10 years)). We have 11 sister cities and Embassy of Mexico in Japan recognize the importance of those relationship. Hiroshima and Guanajuato, Kanagawa and Aguascalienets, Saitama and Toluca as well. Before COVID19, children of Mexico State came to Saitama and play football game. In this year, the high school soccer playeres visisted Gauanajuto and played some soccer game there. We are getting back from COVID19 and hope we can do more activites between sister cities more than now.
You can enjoy fresh sashimi everywhere
- Please give your 3 favorite Japanese foods and their reasons.
Ambassador Melba : This question was the most difficult for me! I want to say "Everything" but I dare to say those 3 foods.
I LOVE SASHIMI A LOT! I enjoyed sashimi since morning that fishes were swimming just a few hours ago. It was one of my unforgettable memories too. Anywhere we can enjoy the fresh sashimi in Japan. This is the amazing thing.
In Mexico, we also have the variey of the soup such as Pozole, sopa de Azteca, caldo de pollo and so on. So, I love the brouth of the shabu shabu from the fresh meat and dashi. Of course, the meat of shabu shabu is so wonderful flavor and feel micture of verey fresh meat.
Street food (Yatai meshi)
In the festivals in Japan, we can see many street food, Okonomiyaki, especially Hiroshimayaki is the funny and interesting food, cook all layers and it has the different flavors in each layeres. This types of food is very unique.
Fiesta, todos los dias
- When you go back to Mexico once a year, what are you going to do? (activities)
My visits of Mexico has the different purpose. I usually go to Mexico in January since we have Ambassador meeting. Of course, I visit some Japanese enterpirses in Mexico. I have a limited time to stay in Mexico but I try to go outside of Mexico City. Then, I go to beach such as Cancun, Pueblo Magico (Magic City) and then get the new ideas.
In Mexico, everyday, festivals are held in somewhere. All are linked with church festivals and most festivities are related to Catholic traditions. In the week of Semana Santa and Dia de Muertos, there are many festivals in whole Mexico. "Everyday fiesta, fiesta todos los dias"!
I think that Mexico has the similar culture with Japan. As I mentioned in the 1st question, Japan has the many faces in each prefecture and area. Mexico is the same. In addition, our food culture also has the variety of food. Mexico did a lot of promotion of thie ragricultural products kabocha, avocado, pork, berries and so on. We also appeal that they are insured by Food Security Program
Mexico is not too far
· Please give your message to MEXITOWN readers in Japan.
Ambassador Melba : Japan and Mexico has the rich relationship for long years. Companies are doing good business.
For readers who never been to Japan, please come to Japan! You can enjoy many places and experince the different cultures from Mexico. You will be fastnated and will come back to Japan many times.
For readers who never been to Mexico, please travel Mexico! Mexico is always welcome your visit for all tourists. We have rich and variety of culture and natural places.
Maybe many reasders think "Mexico is too far". Don't worry, we have daily direct flights from Narita to Mexico City by Aeromexico and ANA. It's much easier to visit Mexico and Japan before. I would like to repeat, "Please visit Japan and please come to Mexico!"
-Thank you very much Ambasador Melba. I enjoyed talking with you today. Hope that our amistad will foster more than now.
Ambassador Melba Pria
HE Melba Pria was Ambassador of Mexico to India from 2015 to 2018 and to Indonesia from 2007 to March 2015. She was born in Mexico City. Holds a Bachelor Degree in Sociology, two Masters Degrees in Public Policy and International Studies and a Post Graduate in National Security and Strategic Studies. She has studied both in Mexico and abroad. She also has to her credits several books and publications on issues of diversity and public policy.
In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she has worked in areas that promote the inclusion of different stakeholders in international affairs. As Head of Public Diplomacy, was responsible for the development of the Ministry’s relationship with civil society in Mexico and abroad. As Director General for Mexican Diaspora; she dealt with issues relating to rights in their countries of reception and the resulting matters of domestic public policy. She was liaison at the State and Federal levels for the coordination and support of local, State and Federal officials in International Affairs. Prior to the above roles with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was political and consular attaché at the Mexican Embassy in Israel and later advisor to the Foreign Minister.
A professional public servant who has served Mexico’s public and private sectors for 40 years, the main themes of her work are embracing political and developmental objectives that focus on and address issues relating to poverty, identity and tolerance, marginalized and ethnically-differentiated communities.
From 1998 to 2000, she was Head of the Mexican National Institute for Indigenous Affairs, was elected Vice President of the Latin American and Caribbean Indigenous Peoples’ Fund, and in both capacities worked to ensure that the indigenous population had access to the State’s jurisdiction, programs, and budgets and to international cooperation. She was also the Director in the Education Ministry’s special delegation to the State of Chiapas, promoting interdisciplinary programs for that State’s indigenous children, work which contributed to an improvement in the levels of instruction and an undertaking to provide special programs for the expansion of educational services in the entire state. Before, she worked at the social Security Institute of Mexico, planning, and delivering programs that directly benefited the working.
*This interview was held on May 2023.