September 28, 2012
2012 Grassroots Summit was held in North Texas from August 28th to September 3rd.
The 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit was held with great success in 15 cities in North Texas from Aug. 28th to Sept. 3rd. The Grassroots Summit has been held annually for the past 22 years and more than 35 thousand Japanese and Americans have participated thus far.
180 young participants from Japan were hosted by 115 families (282 family members) in the 15 cities including Dallas and Fort Worth. All 15 cities proclaimed the dates surrounding the summit “Japan Week” and many young people from Japan and the U.S. enjoyed person-to-person exchange throughout the week.
This year was the first summit held since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and 53 students from the disaster-stricken Tohoku region participated in the summit. Participants from all four groups: the Kesennuma Student Group, the Ishinomaki Senior Little League, the Minamisanriku Shishi-Odori Dance Group and the Kamaishi Student Group, enjoyed person-to-person exchange and the unique culture of North Texas through various activities.
On Aug. 28th, “Japan-America Friendship Night” was held at the Rangers Ball Park to welcome the summit participants. Prior to the game, the student dance group from Tohoku performed on the field and the Texas Rangers presented a donation to Ishinomaki Senior Little League. 700 people attended the event and cheered for Yu Darvish, who became the winning pitcher of the evening.
More than 500 people attended the Opening Ceremony in Fort Worth on Aug. 29th. Ambassador Schieffer, Chairman of the Summit, Consul-General Yamamoto (→Link), Mayor Price of Fort Worth, and Vice President Maniwa of the U.S.-Japan Council extended a warm welcome to all summit participants. Students from Kesennuma gave an English presentation on the earthquake and tsunami titled “We are Tomodachi.”
The Closing Ceremony in Dallas on Sept. 2nd was attended by 400 people including Japanese participants, host families, and the press. The Southern Methodist University Bell Tones and the Minamisanriku Shishi-Odori Dance Group made performance. Ambassador Schieffer, Mayor Rawlings of Dallas, Consul-General Yamamoto (→Link), and others gave remarks and celebrated the successful conclusion of the summit. Ambassador Schieffer stated that both the Japanese and Americans have, with the intention not to repeat the tragedy before the war, accumulated face-to-face, grassroots exchanges, which results in the solid Japan-U.S. alliance. Honorary Consul-General Stich in his closing remarks, highlighted the accomplishments of the summit which encouraged and showed solidarity with the students from Tohoku and shared Texas hospitality with the Japanese participants in cooperation with the 15 cities, the Texas Rangers, museums and many volunteers.
The next Summit will be held in Shimane Prefecture in Japan, on July 1 to 8, 2013.