Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Consul General's News Letter From Houston

Remarks by Consul-General Jota Yamamoto
at the Reception In Celebration of
The Birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan


Distinguished Guests, Honored Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all as we celebrate the birthday of the Emperor of Japan.  His Majesty Emperor Akihito was born on December 23rd, 1933, and will turn 78 this month.  His Majesty is the 125th Emperor to accede to the throne of Japan, and this year marks the 22nd anniversary of His accession.  His Majesty is the symbol of the State and the unity of the people of Japan.

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, His Majesty the Emperor, together with Her Majesty the Empress, visited again and again disaster afflicted areas and evacuation centers. Their Majesties offered comfort and encouragement to the disaster victims and expressed Their appreciation to caretakers.

Photographs of Their Majesties’ visit can be seen in this room and upstairs.  
Nine months have passed since the earthquake. I like to renew my gratitude to the people in Texas and Oklahoma for their precious support and help to Japan.  Now I am pleased to report to you that my country is steadily returning to normalcy, as people have worked so hard towards rehabilitation and reconstruction.  The situation is under control and we will ensure the necessary transparency on the safety of foods and other health-related requirements.

To share with you the sense of solidarity with the disaster-affected people, we put some sake at the bar counter tonight.  It features two sake brands from Japanese breweries in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures that have rebuilt their business from the damages caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

Distinguished Guests,

Last week, a Japanese astronaut, Mr. Satoshi Furukawa, returned safely from the outer space to Earth and to Houston after spending 165 days 1 hour and 42 minutes at the International Space Station. His voice communicated direct from the ISS encouraged the Japanese people in the affected areas, as was commended by Japan’s Foreign Minister Mr. Genba.

Tonight, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will kindly show us, up on the second floor, the recent developments in space exploration.  We have an exhibition entitled “Japanese Technology” to show you the Japanese business as usual in Japan and in the States.  Besides Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA, two other big names are kindly joining us: Toshiba with its LED lighting systems and motors for hybrid electric cars and; Japan Railway Central with its world’s safest high-speed train system. 

Many people, both in Japan and the States, have devoted their life to enhance relations between the two countries.  One of such giants, Dr. Yukihiko Nose, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, passed away in October this year.  For his glorious professional career as well as his contribution to the bilateral relations, he was bestowed the Sacred Medal of Honor from the Emperor in 2004.  I like to pay tribute to Dr. Nose. 

Many of today’s guests are also helping consolidate the Japanese-American ties.  This year, among others, Ms. Masumi Reade from Woodlands was nationally recognized as the recipient of the Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award for her contribution to promote mutual understanding among young generations.  Mr. John Stich from Dallas received the Bridges-to-Friendship Award for his tireless effort to enhance the cause of Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth.  Dr. Larry Jones from Stillwater in Oklahoma was commended by the Foreign Minster of Japan for his longstanding contribution to sister-city relationship.  I attended the congratulatory ceremony on November 17 and witnessed that he was celebrated by the whole city of Stillwater. 

Today, I like to announce that I, Consul-General of Japan, present commendation to Mr. Terunobu Nakai.  He is a professional garden designer and has for the past five years engaged in his voluntary works to renovate and keep good shape of the Hermann Park Japanese Garden.  Madam Parker, Mayor of the City of Houston proclaimed October 27, 2011, as Terunobu Nakai Day.  Mr. Nakai is not joining us today, for he is in Japan and struggling with sickness.  I hope that your kind appreciation and my commendation will encourage Mr. Nakai to overcome the hardship.

In closing, I like to repeat my thanks to you all for coming tonight from many parts of Texas and Oklahoma to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday.  I pledge to work to form strong bonds of friendship and partnership between you and my country. I thank you.