In a moving ceremony at Stark-Condè Wine Estate in the Jonkershoek Valley outside Stellenbosch on Friday, October 28, the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Shigeyuki Hiroki, presented a certificate of commendation to the estate owner, Hans Peter Schröder, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Fumio Kishida.
Mr Schroder and his wife, Midori, who settled in South Africa in 1991, after living in Japan for 25 years, were accompanied by their family on the occasion.
In reading the commendation, Mr Hiroki noted the significant contribution Mr and Ms Schr der made to South Africa Japan relations after settling here, including the founding of the Cape Town Japan Club in 2007, which provides support for the 200 Japanese residents living in and around Cape Town, as well as their spouses and families. “Thanks to Hans and Midori, today, the Cape Town Japan Club is an active association of friendship and cultural exchanges,” he said.
Mr Schröder met his wife, Midori, when they studied together at the International Christian University in Tokyo. They married in 1966, but South Africa’s apartheid dispensation, which prohibited inter-racial marriages, resulted in them remaining in Japan for the next 25 years, where they raised their three daughters. Mr and Ms Schröder remained outspoken critics of the inhumanity of apartheid’s practices and policies, and only chose to return to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela 1990, and the commencement of the change in the South African political climate.
in 2010, the Schröder family featured in a Japanese television programme, 100 Japanese who are changing the world.
“With their outstanding hospitality and warm receptiveness, Hans and Midori became famous figures in Japan. The magnificence of South Africa was communicated and made known to thousands of people in Japan through their excellent wines. Over the years, Hans and Midori and their family members warmly welcomed many Japanese visitors to Starke-Condè,” Mr Hiroki said.
The Schröders travel to Japan a number of times each year, to promote South African wine.
Speaking after accepting the commendation, Mr Schröder said: “Thank you, Mr Ambasador, for this totally unexpected recognition. I feel I should be giving it the other way around, as I have profited so much from my association with Japan. I am touched by this great honor.”
The presentation was followed by a tasting of Stark-Condè Three Pines Cabernet, led by cellar master Jose Condè, after which guests enjoyed a sushi lunch at Postcard Café on the estate.