On Tuesday, February 17th, Consulate-General of Japan Nozomu Takaoka in Houston held a reception in honor of Mr. Junjiro Naoki, who was awarded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commendations by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida on August 4, 2014. Mr. Naoki was presented with this award in recognition of his esteemed service in the promotion of the mutual understanding between Japan and the United States of America. Mr. Naoki was among the 108 individual recipients who were awarded this prestigious honor by the Government of Japan.
Consul General Takaoka lauded Mr. Naoki’s many achievements in the US-Japan exchange, as well as his excitement in working with him for the future (link). Then, Japan America Society Houston board member Joe Hafner introduced Mr. Naoki’s personality and his achievements. Some of Mr. Naoki’s old friends came all the way from Alabama for the reception and Mr. Charles Durham, one of whom, spoke about his good memories of Mr. Naoki when he was in Alabama.
At the reception, Mr. Naoki thanked his many friends for attending and spoke of his experience leading the Mitsubishi Corporation subsidiary, Coilplus, in Alabama in the 1980’s. He shared how his time working with American colleagues at Coilplus helped him to recognize the importance of cultural understanding and business practices when working abroad. Mr. Naoki cited this business experience as his inspiration for founding the Japanese Association of North Alabama and the Japan-America Society of Alabama, his first forays into promoting international relations outside of business. Mr. Naoki went on to speak of his other accomplishments and said that the advancements made in the past 30 years have been a truly collaborative effort which would not have been possible without the support of many people, including attendees. He closed by expressing his wish to continue promoting goodwill and by toasting to future generations of U.S.-Japan friendship.
Mr. Naoki Junjiro was born in Japan and stationed in the U.S. for the first time when he worked for Mitsubishi Corporation in Alabama from 1984 to 1990. At that time, Mr. Naoki established North Alabama Japanese Bsusiness Association to create the ties between Japanese companies there and worked with the Consulate General in Atlanta to establish the Japanese language school in Huntsville. Mr. Naoki was also a crucial member to launch Japan America Society in Alabama in 1989 to promote the friendship and mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan and became the Vice President for 1 year. To acknowledge these activities and his contribution in inviting Japanese companies to Alabama, he was awarded by the Governor titles Honorary Citizenship in 1984, Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in 1988 and Honorary Ambassador in 1990.
Even after coming back to the U.S. as the President of Satake U.S.A. in Houston in 1998, Mr Naoki has worked tirelessly to contribute to the Japanese society continued. He became the First Vice President of Japanese Association of Greater Houston in 2003 and became the Second President in 2005 for 2 years. He has been currently the President of Japan America Society Houston since 2010 and strengthened its structure to conduct various activities such as Houston Japan Festival and Japanese Language Speech Contest. He will leave the President in June.
He has shown an exceptional history of support particularly to US-Japan cultural exchanges, and has engaged in many Japan-related events through his excellent abilities and an extensive network. For example, he has been working for maintaining Japan Garden in Hermann Park with other community leaders and was instrumental for the renovation, as he invited gardeners from Japan and organized a fundraising event. Mr. Naoki also arranged logistics and offered financial assistance for the Houston’s delegation’s visit to Chiba for the occasion of 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship of Houston and Chiba city. Also, when the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Training Squadron arrived at the port of Galveston in 2006, Mr. Naoki organized the welcome party at the ranch. With the regard to the Consulate General of Japan in Houston, Mr. Naoki provided volunteers and donated premiums for events such as Bento Contest. Mr. Naoki has been engaging in uncountable cultural and exchange events and his tireless dedication has been always admired by people in Houston.