Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Consul General's News Letter From Houston

Remarks by Consul-General Jota Yamamoto
in the reception co-hosted
with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
to celebrate the 40th anniversary
of Chiba-Houston sister-city relationship
and to feature the Sushi chef Mr. Masayoshi Kazato
from Chiba City on November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012

Distinguished Guests and Dear Colleagues,

Like in Houston, we like to see diversities of life in Japan.  Like in Houston, a gastronomic life is a very important factor to enjoy.  Japanese cuisine is always something to enjoy, not only to digest, thus, like in Houston, we have many Japanese restaurants in Japan.

The earthquake in March 2011 and its aftermath posed some questions over food & other products of Japan.  We have responded with ensuring the necessary regulations and transparency on the safety of food, and now we can assure you of the safety of any food properly imported from Japan into the US market.

The total value of agricultural, forestry & fishery products which were imported from Japan to the States in 2011 was 833 million dollars, decreasing by 2. 9% from the previous year.   I hope that we will soon witness the increase of those statistical figures, with the revived conviction on the safety and taste of Japanese food.

Nearly 7% of imported food from Japan is alcoholic beverages.  I will today entice you to try Japanese Sake that is from the earthquake-stricken Tohoku region.  This Sake represents the power of Tohoku people, who are working so hard towards reconstruction.  I will today serve you two famous brands: Shinjitsu of Fukushima Prefecture and Ichinokura of Miyagi Prefecture. If you are keen to wine, though I know that today is the date for Beaujolais Nouveau, I have chosen the Japanese award-winning wine, Awashi Murasaki from Yamanashi Prefecture for you.

More than 7% of the bilateral food import is sauces & seasonings.  I will today entice you to taste some of those which will be fitting to a variety of cuisines.  Two famous brands again: soy sauce of Yamasa and rice vinegar of Mitsukan.  The promotion campaign for these brands is coordinated by Chiba Prefecture, whose capital is Chiba City, a familiar name as the sister-city of Houston.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of the relationship between the two cities.

Like in Houston, we have a big seaport in Chiba City & adjacent cities. The port of Chiba plays a critical role in foreign trade, with the total trade value of 61 billion dollars, including 4 billion dollars with the States.  The Port of Chiba has now witnessed a sharp increase of natural gas imported from Asia and elsewhere, though the States has not yet permitted the export of natural gas to Japan.

Like in Houston, we have a good baseball team in Chiba City.  Like in Houston, we have the active and capable Mayor and city council members.  The Honorable Kumagai, Mayor of Chiba City, is always attentive to Houston, and today in his fifth message this year alone, which was handed to the Honorable Council Member Helena Brown representing the City, introduces the Sushi chef, Mr. Kazato.  I am proud of Mr. Kazato, as he was given the honorary citizenship of Houston today.

I would like to welcome Mr. Kazato to Houston, and to thank the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, Chiba Foodstuff Export Association and Trade Representative Mr. Kimura, JETRO-Houston, who all made tonight possible. 

I now invite Mr. Kimura to introduce us Sushi chef, Director of All Japan Sushi Association Sushi Skills Institute and now Honorary Citizen of Houston, Mr. Masayoshi Kazato.  I hope that you all will enjoy his creative skills and the art of Sushi, and have a very good evening.