The Embassy of Finland in Tokyo welcomes two new personnel this summer. Ari Honkanen replaces Miia Rantanen as the new First Secretary in charge of trade and economic matters. Terhi Hakala replaces Tiia Rakkolainen as the new Administrative Officer, handling mainly financial matters.
Ari Honkanen is the new Desk Officer for Economic and Trade Policies, going to work closely with Team Finland partners, mainly the Embassy's Trade Section (Finpro) and Tekes. He previously worked at the Communications Department for North America and as the Desk Officer for Turkey at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Honkanen is eager to start his first post abroad. "I'd like to be on top of Japanese economy and trade policy in relevance to Finland and become a well-connected expert in these fields, and use the expertise for the benefit of Team Finland and Finnish companies."
Although it's his first time setting foot in this country, Japan has been familiar to him since childhood. He grew up watching the Moomin anime produced in Japan with his younger sister, and marveled at the beauty of Mount Fuji in science and geography books he liked to read as a child. Honkanen and his wife Anna-Laura love Japanese food so much that eating with chopsticks was a weekly routine even in Helsinki. "Japan has an interesting combination of high living standards, safety and exoticness," explained Honkanen, as the reason for applying to a post in Japan as his first destination. "Respectfulness and politeness that I knew Japan to have are close to my own values, that made me decide to come here."
Family's well-being is of course a priority, but Honkanen has further ambitions. "I'd like to dig into the culture, by being able to crack jokes with the locals by the end of my tenure." Honkanen has a big advantage in mingling with new cultures – his talents with the guitar. As the saying goes, music transcends borders.
Terhi Hakala is the new Administrative Officer for financial matters. Having worked 16 years at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, she is an administration expert also handling visa and immigration issues in some countries. Having studied Russian literature and being fluent in the language brought her to Saint Petersburg for 4 years and Moscow for 3 years. She has also worked in Beijing, and spent 4 years in Kyiv as her last post before coming to Tokyo.
So what brought her to Japan? "I wanted something new for a change, something different from Russia," reflects Hakala. "Tokyo is quite hot and humid at the moment, but very clean. I think Japan is easy to settle for a Finnish person." She's already enjoying Japanese food which has much fish, compared to mainly meat in Ukraine.
Hakala likes to knit as a hobby, making her interested in Japanese handicrafts. She also enjoys going to theaters and musicals, and visiting traditional architecture. "I've only been to Asakusa in Tokyo. I'd like to go visit temples, they are so different from Russian churches." It seems it's not only Hakala who are eager to explore the new culture- she has a long list of friends waiting to visit Japan.
Ari-san and Terhi-san, welcome to Tokyo!