Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Acting Consul-General Takahiko Watabe
at the Award Ceremony and Reception
for Mr. Glen Yoshiaki Gondo on the Occasion
of the Conferral of the Imperial Decoration Order
of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette on July 10, 2013

July 10, 2013

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Friends, and Distinguished Guests,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all here tonight to recognize and honor a remarkable pillar of the Japanese-American community of Houston, Mr. Glen Yoshiaki Gondo. On April 29 of this year, it was announced by the Government of Japan that Mr. Gondo would be officially recognized for his outstanding contributions to promoting mutual understanding between the United States and Japan and introducing Japanese culture in the United States. Mr. Gondo has been awarded the Imperial Decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for which we have gathered here tonight to formally confer. Two of the recipients of imperial decorations awarded this spring have strong ties to Texas. One is Mr. Gondo and the other is Mrs. Naoko Shirane, Senior Advisor to the State of Texas. It gives me great sadness to say that Mrs. Shirane passed away in Tokyo on June 18th. I would like to express my sincerest condolences to  her close friends here in Texas, including to Mr. Gondo.

Mr. Gondo is a third-generation Japanese-American who has been heavily involved in the Houston business community since the late 80s.  He has been active in developing and expanding his own many businesses and becoming involved in various non-profit organizations. He is the president and owner of: Gondo Company, Incorporated, Tokyo Gardens Catering, Sushic, Gondo Consulting, Pacific Ventures, and Houston 8. For his entrepreneurial successes, Mr. Gondo has been the recipient of many awards such as the Asian Chamber of Commerce Asian American Entrepreneur Award and the Minority Business News Houston’s 1999 Remarkable Minority Business Award.

Mr. Gondo is being recognized tonight for his dedication to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan.  He has been very active with the Asian communities of Houston and served in several officer positions of non-profit organizations. Mr. Gondo has served as the Japan-America Society of Houston president three times and as a board member for nearly 20 years. Currently, Mr. Gondo serves on the Board of Directors of the Japan-America Society of Houston, the Asia Society of Texas, the Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Greater Houston Convention Visitors Bureau, and the World Trade Organization, and has previously served as a board member of the United Way. Among his many endeavors, Mr. Gondo also supports the Annual Texas Japanese Language Speech Contest, the sister-city exchange between Houston and Chiba City, and serves as chairman of the Houston Mayoral Advisory Committee for Asian Affairs. 

During his first term as president of the Japan America Society of Houston, Mr. Gondo established what is likely his most visible legacy - the founding of the Houston Japan Festival.  This annual two-day fair that introduces various contemporary and traditional Japanese cultural elements to Houston is the largest of its kind in the southern United States, and is now in its 20th year. Due to Mr. Gondo’s dedication, the Japan Festival has consistently grown each year and attracts about 30,000 visitors.

Mr. Gondo has also made a significant contribution to the improvement of the status of Japanese Americans in the U.S. as a member of the Houston Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. He and other Houston JACL members reached out to the Texas Board of Education to have two vital historical events included in the state’s history curriculum. One was the Executive Order 9066 made by President Roosevelt to intern Japanese Americans during World War II, and the second was the rescue of Texas’ 36th Infantry Division from behind enemy lines by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit comprised almost exclusively of Japanese American soldiers. The Houston JACL succeeded in its efforts and the Board of Education has included these key pieces of Japanese-American history in the curriculum.

Mr. Gondo, you are truly an exemplary model of a person sincerely dedicated to strengthening the ties and bonds between Japan and the United States. Your community activism and business successes are nothing short of remarkable. For your commitment and dedication, for the reasons enumerated, it is my pleasure to confer upon you the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.