Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Consul General's News Letter From Houston

Remarks of Consul-General Yamamoto
at the Lecture Session
of the Space Exploration Educators Conference
to Feature JAXA Astronaut Dr. Satoshi Furukawa
held at the Space Center Houston on February 8

February 8, 2013

I am thrilled at the fabulous combination of the Space Exploration Educators Conference and a Japanese astronaut.  It was made possible by many people, and my special thanks go to Mr. Richard Allen, Dr. Melanie Johnson & other staff of the Space Center Houston; Director Junichi Sakai & dear colleagues of Japan’s space agency, JAXA-Houston.  I am delighted to see friends from the Consular Corps, and thank the Honorable Bandula Wijay of Sri Lanka for joining us in this early morning.

I am proud of Japan’s space program, of its relationship with NASA & other American counterparts in particular. It is not a partial contribution, and I can call it the overall longstanding collaboration as a precious partner.  Japan is the sole Asian nation among 15 partners for the International Space Station.  Since the outset of the ISS program, even since the age of the project Freedom, Japan has done a lot.  Like in many places and contexts on the earth, we have tried to be the best partner with America in the outer space as well.

Japan’s technology speaks volumes, as represented by the vast Experiment Module of the ISS.  The recent example is Japan’s unmanned Transfer Vehicle.  While astronauts have to take the Soyuz to & fro the ISS, I have no comment but it may be a bit tough, the cargo can enjoy a pleasant & comfortable journey in Japan’s Transfer Vehicle just like a baby embraced by a stork.  Indeed, we have named it White Stork.

Human factors after all will be of the utmost importance in terms of collaboration.  Over the past 20 years, 8 Japanese astronauts have participated in the missions of the Space Shuttle and Space Station.  Last year, Astronaut Hoshide successfully completed his mission in the ISS.  This year, a seasoned Astronaut Wakata will get back to the Station.  Mr. Yui, Mr. Onishi & Mr. Kanai, many more Japanese are ready to follow.

I am very honored to introduce this morning the representative astronaut of Japan, Dr. Satoshi Furukawa.  He was chosen as an astronaut candidate in 1999, and very shortly was certified as an astronaut in 2001. He holds the titles of Doctor of Medicine & PhD in Medical Science, and speaks Russian.  In 2011, he stayed on the ISS for 165 days, 1 hour & 42 minutes I suppose.  He is a tough manager of the baseball/soft ball team, too.

I believe that Dr. Furukawa will navigate us today to the outer space, the frontiers of science, the values of collaboration beyond borders, and most certainly, he will orient us on how to dream a dream and how to realize the dream.  I hope you enjoy it.