Artists connecting the people.

  2023年6月~7月、北マケドニアのピアニスト、Ema Popivodaさんが来日し、佐手麻珠さんとのピアノデュオリサイタルを行いました。また、宇都宮と茅ケ崎の小学校においてアウトリーチ(音楽を通じて市民、子供たちと交流)を行いました。

In June-July 2023, Macedonian pianist Ema Popivoda visited Japan to give a piano duo recital with Asami Sate, as well as outreached at elementary schools in Utsunomiya and Chigasaki through interactive music performance with citizens and children.

(Duo Recital at Suntory Hall)
宇都宮アウトリーチ(Outreach in Utsunomiya)
宇都宮でのコンサート(Concert in Utsunomiya)
茅ケ崎でのアウトリーチ(Outreach in Chigasaki)

以下は、7月7日、サントリーホールでの最終公演を前にEma popivodさんから私が受けたインタビューのやり取りです(このインタビューは、Ema Popivodaさんの来日記録映画の一環として行われたものです)。

I was interviewed by Ema popivoda before their final performance at Suntory Hall on July 7 (this interview was conducted as a part of Ema Popivoda’s documentary film about “Japan tour 2023”).

Mr. Sawada, you served in North Macedonia as Japanese Ambassador until very recently. How are diplomatic Relations between Japan and North Macedonia?

30th anniversary of diplomatic relations (2024) should be a good turning point.

Our diplomatic relations have always excellent, but we need more political dialogue to grade up our relationship on the occasion of the 30th anniverary. Foreign Minister Osmani  made a successful visit to Japan in 2022 and State Secretary Tocevski is making a important follow up visit right now. 2024 is good chance for political dialogue to discuss how to grade up our relations and take initiative to promote economic and cultural relations.”

What can be improved for strengthening our relations?

Business relations are crucial.

We have been promoting Western Balkan Initiative since 2018. The main objective is to support socio-economic development of North Macedonia to be integrated to EU. In this sense, strong business relations are essential. Our economic cooperations in North Macedonia are quite successful especially in the health and education sectors. But our business relations are so far very limited,  Our Government encourages and supports Japanese private companies to come and invest in North Macedonia. Business environment in North Macedonia are attractive and potential, especially in the tourism, agriculture and energy sector. It’s a big challenge, but we should promote it more both in Tokyo and skopje. “

What is your view for the cultural events in North Macedonia and Japan?

Musicians are making good contributions to promote our cultural relations 

We had a difficult time to promote our relations because of COVID situation, but cultural activities are restarting and musicians are frontrunners for that. Artists have strong power to connect the people. You and Asami are a good example to contribute to develop not only cultural exchanges but also developing mutual understanding. The Japanese people still don’t know enough about your country and vice versa. That’s why cultural exchange is very important. Government must support them as much as possible.”

Tell me about your experience of the everyday life while you were in North Macedonia

North Macedonia is a country where unique History, diverse culture and beautiful nature are well synchronized

Two years were very short to enjoy enough North Macedonia, but we appreciate the friendship of the people, who are very friendly. As I lived near the City Park I enjoyed walking almost everyday. One day, I had a meeting with the Minister Osmani in the Park. We call it “Green Meeting”, which is one of my favorite memories in Skopje.Macedonian language was a big challenge for me but I enjoyed learning it.Let me just deliver a message to Macedonian people in Macedonian.”

Of course, please. You always spoke in Macedonian in your speeches in North Macedonia.

Драги пријатели,

Ви благодарам за топлото пријателство. Ми се допаѓа Северна Македонија, која е земја со уникатна историја и разновидна култура синхронизирана со прекрасна природа. Особено ми се допаднаа Охрид и Битола. Исто така, македонска храна и вино, секако. Сакам да продолжам со промовирањето на Северна Македонија во Јапонија.“(Dear friends, Thank you for your warm friendship. I like North Macedonia, which is a country with a unique history and a diverse culture synchronized with a wonderful nature. I particularly liked Ohrid and Bitola. Also, Macedonian food and wine, of course. I want to continue promoting Northern Macedonia in Japan.”)

Thank you very much for your time and your cordial support to us.

  コロナ禍を乗り越え、昨年以降、マケドニアと日本との音楽交流が活発になっています。佐手麻珠さんは以前からEma Popivodaさんと親交があり、2020年、コロナ禍における芸術家を支援する東京都の事業「アートにエールを」に出展したデュオ演奏が優秀作品に選ばれました。佐手さんは過去に北マケドニアを何度も訪問していますが、昨年11月、コロナ禍後初めて北マケドニアを再訪し、スコピエでEmaさんとのデュオリサイタルを行った他、Emaさんが教鞭をとるシュティップ音楽大学で公開レッスンも行いました。

スコピエでのデュオリサイタル(2023年11月)(Duo Recital in Skopje, Nov.2023)

After overcoming the Corona disaster, music exchanges between North Macedonia and Japan have been active since last year. Asami Sate has been friends with Ema Popivoda for a long time, and in 2020, she exhibited a duo performance at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s project “Cheers for Art” to support artists during the Corona Pandemic, and was awarded a prize. Asami Sate has visited North Macedonia many times in the past, but last November she returned to North Macedonia for the first time after the pandemic, giving a duo recital with Ms. Ema in Skopje and gave a public lessons at the Stipp College of Music, where Ms. Ema teaches.

  本年1月、ウィーンで活動するソプラノ歌手Milena Arsovskaさんは、ウィーン・サロンオーケストラと共に来日し、ニューイヤーコンサートに出演しました。In January this year, Vienna-based soprano Milena Arsovska came to Japan for the Vienna Salon Orchestra’s New Year Concert.

6月、イタリアで活動するテノール歌手Blagoj Nacoskiさんは、パレルモ・マッシモ劇場の東京他公演(椿姫)に出演した他、サロンコンサートを行いました。Macedonian tenor Blagoj Nacoski performed at La Traviata with the Teatro Massimo from Palermo in Tokyo and other cities, and also gave a salon concert.

(New Year ‘s Concert by Vienna Salon Orchestra with Milena Arcovska)
Blagoi Nacoski さんのサロンコンサート(Salon concert by Blagoj Nacoski)

  Blagoj Nacoskiさんは、昨年2月、スコピエの国立オペラバレエ劇場が開催したガラ・オペラ・コンサート「Arigato」において「故郷」を日本語で歌ってくれました。日本政府は、同劇場に、楽器、音響・照明機材を寄贈しています。In June, Italia-based Last February, Blagoj Nacoski sang “Hometown” in Japanese at the “Arigato” concert held by the National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Skopje to commemorate Japan. Japanese Government donated musical instruments, acostic and lightning equipments.

国立オペラ・バレエのガラ・オペラコンサートで「故郷」を歌うブラゴイ さん
(Blagoj Nacoski singin “Frusato” at Gala Opera Concert at National Opera and Ballet, “Arigato”)
中村天平さんのコンサート(Piano Concet by enpei Nakamura at Skopje summer Festival)

  昨年8月に、中村天平さんが、欧州キャラバンの一環として、スコピエ音楽フェスティバルに参加し、マケドニア独立闘争博物館においてピアノコンサートを行いました。In August last year, Tenpei Nakamura participated in the Skopje Music Festival as a part of his European Caravan and gave a piano concert at the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Independence.

Tanikawa’s permance at St. Sofia Church in Ohrid)

  昨年8月、伝統あるストゥルガ詩祭において谷川俊太郎さんが金冠賞を受賞し、ご子息で作曲家、ピアニストの谷川賢作さん、詩人の四元康祐さんらが、詩祭に参加しまた。オフリドの聖ソフィア教会において記念朗読会や賢作さんの歌とピアノ演奏が行われました。Last August, poet Shuntaro Tanikawa won the Golden Wreath Award at the traditional Sturga Poetry Evenings. His son, composer and pianist Kensaku Tanikawa and poet Kosuke Yotsumoto participated in the poetry evenings. Shuntaro’s lyrics and Kensaku’s music were recited at a commemorative reading held at St. Sophia Church in Ohrid.

Popov sunset valley impoerted by Tokyou opera wine


In July, the Tokyo Opera Wine Club organised a Mini Concert. Mr.Kotetsu sang “Makedonsko devojche”(Macedonian girl) in Macedonian. Attendants enjoyed also Macedonian Popov wine imported by Tokyou Opera. Mr. Kotetsu is planning to visit North Macedonia to participate in the Bitola Music Festival this autumn.




2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and North Macedonia. We expect artists of both countries will give us more performance. “Cheers for art!”

Sawada Hironori

-Born in 1956 in Kumamoto(Tamana city), Japan. -Graduated from Tamana high school. -Studied Portuguese and Brazilian History at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. -Entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in1980. -Served in Brazil (1981-86, 95-99 and 07-10(Political Counsellor), Italy (Rome, 92-95), Chicago(10-13(DCG)), Angola (as Ambassador, 16-20) and North Macedonia(as Ambassador, 20-22). -Retired from foreign service in 2023.



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