Hirokazu Tanaka paid a courtesy visit to Her Excellency Ms. Alexandra Kovač, The Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia.

On February 7, I arrived at the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Tokyo for the first time.

Why Have I Come Here?
Almost a year ago, on February 4, 2023, 256 Milica Jovanovics gathered in a shopping mall in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, to set a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people with the same name. Our record of 178 Hirokazu Tanakas was broken in only 98 days. When I saw that our Tokyo record had made AFP news, BBC video news, and was reported in 44 countries around the world, I thought, “This is too big a show. I knew about the large number of same names in neighboring China and Korea, and I imagined that it would inspire Western same name organizations like the Jim Smith Society, headquartered in the United States.
I had no idea it was Serbia!

My interest in Serbia, a country almost on the other side of the world, was suddenly aroused. I learned that the name “-bitch,” which is common among Slavic people, means “son of”. The population is less than 7 million, and its land area is about the same as that of Hokkaido in Japan. We also read a book about ethnic conflicts from the former Yugoslavia. After that, I contacted Mr.Robert Coban, who organized the Guinness Challenge, and we had a conversation via Zoom, and somehow we hit it off. We both have a strong desire for world peace.

On February 24, This International Same Name Association was established to promote international exchange among people with the same name.

When the heavy doors of the embassy opened and we were invited in, we found ourselves in Serbia.

The entrance stairwell was decorated with the banner of the participating country that was displayed in Saitama City, the venue for the women’s basketball team to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Looking at the wall to the left of it,

The uniforms displayed in the frame are signed by Novak Djokovic, tennis player, on the left.
The two on the right are for the national basketball team. At last year’s World Cup, the men’s national team was the runner-up and the women’s team reached the quarterfinals.
The country is also strong in volleyball, water polo, and soccer. Dragan Stojkovic, aka Pixie, who also played in Japan, is now the coach of the Serbian national team.
Looking back, I saw a bronze statue.

It was Nikola Tesla, a genius inventor who is said to have surpassed Edison. He invented AC electricity, wireless piloting, and fluorescent lighting, and is said to have acquired over 300 patents, making him a true “Hero of Serbia.
Mr. Tesla, whom Elon Musk named after the brand name of his electric car, was also very handsome.
We took the elevator to the upper floor and were warmly greeted by Her Excellency Ms. Aleksandra Kovač, The Ambassador in the reception room.

The Ambassador, with her graceful gestures and elegant smile, listened attentively to my introduction of our activities. This courtesy visit was made possible by the fact that I would be featured in the “Portrait of Today” section of the Asahi Shimbun’s “AERA” magazine, and I asked the editorial department to take the opportunity to greet the Serbian Ambassador.

As I explained over a cup of Turkish coffee, the Ambassador asked about the age, place of residence, and occupational variations of our 250 members of Hirokazu Tanakas. She was aware of our Guinness World Record competition with Hirokazu Tanakas and Milica Jovanovics. Of course, she was also aware of Robert Covan, co-founder of the International Surname Federation (ISNA) and owner of a media company called Color Media Communications. The Ambassador then advised me to clarify the significance of ISNA, to which I replied, “It is to achieve world peace through international exchange at the private level, through gatherings of people with the same name”.
She told me that she had a singer with the same name as hers, and I strongly explained to her about the interest of the same name community and its modern significance. I also told her about our ambition to hold an exhibition of Hirokazu Tanakas at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York as part of our modern art activities. She reacted intelligently, saying, “This is art that expresses that a person’s existence itself has meaning, like Monica Meyer’s.
The Ambassador also spoke about the long friendship between Japan and Serbia, which celebrated its 140th anniversary the year before last, the ties between the two countries, and the Embassy’s role in promoting Serbia’s home country. I also heard about the recent situation in neighboring Kosovo, where Serbian residents are being persecuted and tensions are rising. In this situation, I hope that this ISNA will be of help for international peace, whether in Ukraine, the Gaza Strip, the Balkans, or East Asia.
The Ambassador also asked me to give a lecture at this embassy. Of course, I will gladly cooperate with you in promoting Serbia!
The embassy had originally planned a 15-minute interview, but we ended up talking for an hour.

As the two countries that founded this International Same Name Assocition, we took a commemorative photo to say thank you for your continued support. According to diplomatic protocol, I stand next to the flag and the ambassador is next to me.

This is a commemorative photo taken by the embassy staff. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Embassy of Serbia for its friendly and kind support. They also sent out this event from their official X account.

We would like to organise a tour of Serbia with Hirokazu Tanaka’s group and meet Milica Jovanovic’s group. I am sure there will be chaos at the boarding counter of the airplane!

I am very grateful to Her Excellency Ms. Alexandra Kovač, The Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia, First Counselor Ms. Marija Perisic, and staff member Mr.Masaaki Tominaga for taking time out of their precious time to meet me.

People of the same name groups from all over the world, gather together!
United by same name.

(Reported by The founding Hirokazu Tanaka known as “Semi-Leader” )