|Letters and Messages|
Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
Hosts Farewell Reception
for the Houston Director of the Department of State,
Mr. Allen Greenburg
and Several Members of the Houston Consular Corps
on May 22, 2014
May 22, 2014
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, Honorable guests. Thank you very much for joining me tonight to say goodbye to Mr. Allen Greenberg, Houston director of the Department of State. We are also here tonight to honor these departing colleagues of our Consular Corps: Mr. Alaa Khairat Issa, Consul General of Egypt; Mr. Klaus-Jochen Gühlcke, Consul General of Germany; Ambassador Meir Shlomo, Consul General of Israel; and Mr. Fabrizio Nava, Consul General of Italy, and our beloved dean of the Consular Corps in Houston.
Everyone in this room knows Houston is a shining, diverse city with a lively international culture. As a member of the so called wandering nomad diplomatic club, I’ve seen two advantages Houston has to offer this society of Consul Generals.
Firstly, Houston has a rich organization of Honorary Consuls all of whom gathered here are esteemed and important American leaders in this community. Any diplomat who arrived in Houston for the first time cannot escape the Honorary Consuls’ kind and generous advice, as well as the exquisite flavor of Houston’s social and cultural life that they represent. Thank you so much Honorary Consul.
Another advantage to a post in Houston includes the strong presence of the regional office of the State Department, which offers us an important official link to the U.S. government. Thank you State Department.
Therefore, I’ll simply say that serving in this city is rewarding three times over any other city, and I feel I speak for all my colleagues in this context. I’d also like to thank City Councilman, Mr. David Robinson, and Executive Director of Protocol Office, Ms. Deanea Le Flore.
Upon my arrival in Houston, I personally received great help from Mr. Greenberg. My post immediately prior to Houston was Tehran, and the shipment of goods directly from Iran to the United States was impossible due to economic sanctions. Without the help of Mr. Greenberg, I would have to spend $30,000 to move my belongings from Iran, by first delivering them to Japan and then to the United States. However, thanks to his office’s assistance, it was possible to send my belongings via Europe, which saved me more than half the original price.
Apart from that, I also benefited like many others here in this room from Mr. Greenberg’s welcoming demeanor and his comprehensive understanding of our needs.
In August, I understand that Mr. Greenberg and his wife will go to Japan, and I congratulate Haruko for her homecoming. In Japan, Mr. Greenberg will be the new Consul General, working out of the second most populated region in the country which serves Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, as well as Hiroshima and Shikoku. In Japan, he will surly lend his many strengths towards assisting our countries’ treasured bilateral relations with Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Nava for his energetic and personal leadership throughout our Consular Corps. Thanks to him, our issues have been given swift impetus and thanks to his personality, I always eagerly awaited our next consular meeting or luncheon like today. As I stated earlier, we Consul Generals are of a nomad clan, but because of my previous post in Rome as the Deputy Chief of Mission, Yumi and I always felt at home with Fabrizio and Montserrat, either on Houston living, through trips to Dallas, to the rodeo, and so on.
As I understand, they will soon be going to Ottawa, with Mr. Nava as the Deputy Chief of Mission, and although it will be a big climate change for them, I am certain they will adjust well as they have been there before. I wish them Bon Voyage and hope for their further success.
I’d also like to say goodbye to Mr. Issa, with my personal attachment to Egypt because it was my first overseas post as First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Cairo. I’ve found working with Egyptian officials always stimulating and innovative, and since I was not able to spend as much time with Mr. Issa to discuss and compare our notes on the Middle East, I would like to arrange that for the near future. I understand he will return to Cairo this summer to assume an important post in the headquarters and I wish him good luck there, and to Mrs. Miral Omal as well.
I would also like to congratulate Mr. Gühlcke on his successful days here in Houston and thank him for joining us tonight with only one week left before his departure. Although it may just be my one-sided opinion, but I have often found Germany and Japan can relate to one another through our similar ways of conducting diplomacy. He and I share the past experience as our most challenging diplomatic posts of being stationed in Iran, although they were during different years.
It was actually my longtime intent to return the favor of my former German colleagues No.2 in their embassy in Stockholm, Gerda, and in Tehran, Bettina, who were kind enough to arrange farewell lunch for me and host receptions in those countries. Therefore, I am very happy for this opportunity to return their favor, and I wish Mr. Gühlcke nothing but the best at the end of your long diplomatic journey with great respect.
It was also a short period for me to be acquainted with Ambassador Shlomo, but I thank you for inviting me to the Independence Day reception, where Mr. George P. Bush also made a statement. I was always fascinated by the strong ties between Israel and the United States, and between Japan and Israel, since 1988 when I was the youngest member of the delegation headed by the first Japanese Foreign Minister ever to visit Israel.
Most recently here in Houston, the Congressional Gold Medal, which was awarded to the Japanese-American U.S. soldiers of the 442 regiment, was displayed at the Holocaust Museum, partly owing to the fact that the men of this unit were the first to liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp during World War II. It was yet another moving episode for me to see how Houston is truly a diverse and international city that offers opportunities for countries like Japan and Israel to reaffirm our friendship.
I understand that Ambassador Shlomo will be going back to the capital to assume an important post, and wish him and Mrs. Bracha Shlomo a safe journey and great success.
For everyone leaving Houston, I wish you all good health and happiness, and look forward to working together with you again, sometime, somewhere, or even simply enjoying your company. For that to happen please join me in raising a glass for the success and happiness f our departing friends. Kanpai. Cheers.