The 8th “Walk in US and Talk on Japan” Delegation, who were selected from the Japanese public to be dispatched to various cities in the U.S., visited Houston, Austin and San Antonio from June 14 to 20th. The delegation consisted of members from various fields, and actively exchanged with local residents. During the meetings the delegation found many opportunities to communicate the strengths and attractiveness of Japan. Broad interests of the attendees and friendly and pleasant characters of the delegation members combined to ensure lively discussion. The Delegation members and their respective speech topics are listed below.
Mr. Yasui Saito, Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Russia and France
Topic: Japan’s Diplomatic Issues
Mr. Hiroshi Tsukamoto, Former Deputy Director General for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Topic: Development of Robotics
Ms. Miyuki Kobayashi, Part-time Instructor at Kokusai Gakuin Saitama College
Topic: Japanese Culture
Mr. Tetsuo Kitagawa, Former Head of the Overseas PR Division of Toyota Motor Corporation
Topic: Toyota’s Experience in North America
Mr. Takehiro Noma, Junior at Dokkyo University
Topic: Friendship between America and Japan after the Great East Japan Earethquake
On June 15th, the delegation visited the sites of LNG Export Projects in Freeport in Houston before continuing on to Austin. There the delegation joined a discussion event with luncheon hosted by Great Austin Asia Chamber of Commerce on June 16th and a discussion event with dinner hosted by World Affairs Council of Austin on June 17th, when Consul General Takaoka gave remarks (link). Each delegate delivered a speech on the above topic and enjoyed the lively Q&A session. They also met Mr. Coby Shorter, Deputy Secretary of State in Texas, at the Capitol on June 16th and confirmed the importance of the relationship between Texas and Japan.
In San Antonio, the delegation by the invitation of the City Council joined the City Council meeting on June 18th. At the outset, Ambassador Saito explained the purpose of the delegation and expressed gratitude for San Antonio’s hospitality. Mayor Ivy Taylor reciprocated by conferring the title of Honorary Citizens to the delegation. Then the delegation visited the office of Tidal Petroleum Inc. to get briefed about shale development and visited an Eagle Ford shale oil and gas well site. On June 19th, the delegation had an opportunity to exchange views on strengthening the economic ties between San Antonio and Japan with City Council member Ray Lopez and representatives of economic organizations such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio and San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Congressman Will Hurd also joined the discussion. Subsequently, the delegation joined a luncheon with the congressman hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. Ambassador Saito briefly explained the purpose of the delegation and introduced each member. Lastly, each member talked on the above topics for around 100 participants at a discussion event hosted by Incarnate Word University. For this occasion, former Mayor and former U.S. Secretary to Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros delivered a speech on his activities to enhance ties with Japan which started even before his inauguration as a mayor. He also stated that exchange events like this delegation will increase further in the future. City Council member Ron Nirenberg also attended the event.