Akira Katsuyama / Overseas On the Job Trainee, Energy Division-II, Marubeni Nuclear Fuel Department
With a population of some 600,000, Vladivostok is located in the Far East of Russia and as it faces the Sea of Japan it has flourished since the olden days as a gateway to the Pacific Ocean. When you look at a map you will find that Vladivostok lies further west than Tokyo, and yet it is two hours ahead of Japan Standard Time. This office is one of the few Marubeni overseas offices which greet the morning ahead of the headquarters in Tokyo.
Vladivostok is currently bustling, as the Russian government is devoting massive investment to this venue for the APEC-2012 Summit. Construction is underway throughout the city, raising clouds of dust along the way. The symbol of the infrastructure development for the Summit is the bridge connecting Russky Island (where APEC will be held) and the mainland, and its construction is continuing apace. This connecting bridge is now the pride of the local people, and one of the tourist destinations here.
I digress a bit in adding it, but Vladivostok is such a hilly city that it is known as the San Francisco of the Far East. Strolling along in the city of Vladivostok, you will quickly find that you are short of breath. What is more, many of the sidewalks are poorly paved—with many bumps, and snow left here and there during the winter season—and as a result, I always have to be careful where I am stepping as I walk through the city. They say that there are so many beautiful girls as to rival the number of hills in Vladivostok, but alas, you have to look down to watch your step almost all the time, so there is no chance to look around, which is a bit of a shame.
Now, my favorite movie is a work called Always—Sunset on Third Street, which is set in the Shitamachi area of Tokyo during the 1950s, when Tokyo had been selected to host the Olympics, and vigorous, rapid economic growth was under way. There is an impressive scene in which the hopes and dreams of a family living in Shitamachi are buoyed as they gaze up at the Tokyo Tower under construction. Vladivostok is brimming with activity too, not for the Tokyo Olympics, but toward hosting APEC, and the hopes and dreams of the locals here are buoyed in the same way—as they eagerly look forward to the completion not of the Tokyo Tower, but of the connecting bridge.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.69 (May, 2012)