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Speech by SLW at signing ceremony of Working Holiday Scheme between Japan and Hong Kong (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the signing ceremony of the Working Holiday Scheme between Japan and Hong Kong today (October 27):

Consul-General and Ambassador Mr Sato, distinguished guests and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

     Welcome to the signing ceremony of the Working Holiday Scheme between Japan and Hong Kong - the first Working Holiday Scheme that Hong Kong has signed with an Asian country.

     The Working Holiday Scheme seeks to enable young people to gain first-hand living and working experience in a foreign culture while they are holidaying.  It is a very effective way to broaden their horizons and widen their exposure.

     Japan has long been one of the most favoured tourist destinations of Hong Kong people.  It is also Hong Kong's third largest trading partner.  The scheme offers a golden opportunity for our young people to learn more about life in Japan by taking up temporary jobs while touring around and making friends.  They can also make use of their stay to explore traditional Japanese philosophy and culture like Judo (the gentle way), Sado (the way of tea), or Ikebana (the way of flowers).  And I am sure they would most welcome the chance to get a first-hand feel of Japanese pop culture.  After all, many of our youngsters are great fans of Japanese cinema, music, television drama, comics, video games or even fashion.

     Feedback from participants in our existing Working Holiday Schemes with Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Germany has been positive.  Specifically, more than 9,200 Hong Kong youngsters have benefited from their stay in those countries to experience life very different from that of Hong Kong.  This is also true for the 1,260 young people who came to Hong Kong under the schemes.

     I am confident that the scheme with Japan will be equally successful, if not more.  The scheme will also go a long way towards strengthening the bilateral ties between the two places and help promote tourism, cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

     Last but not least, I must thank the Consul-General and Ambassador Mr Sato and his colleagues in the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong most warmly for their kind assistance in bringing this very worthwhile scheme to fruition.  

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Issued at HKT 17:30


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