Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at JASH Appreciation Reception
on October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

Good evening everyone, and thank you for joining me at my home. This month actually marks the one year anniversary of my and my wife’s arrival in Houston.  One year before, we had the very fortunate experience of being warmly welcomed by all of you at the JASH Welcome reception at the Petroleum Club.  It afforded us a very good social beginning in Texas with many friends and colleagues. Therefore, we are hosting this reception tonight in appreciation of all the kind and generous activities and collaboration in which JASH was instrumental over the past year.   
They include the JASH Gala last year, honoring Ambassador Thomas Schieffer and the Honorable Minoru Makihara; Japan Fest in April, attended by 30,000 happy Houstonians in and around the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park; and such unique cultural events as the Speech Competition and the bento contest. All of those events have been a great success, and I give my sincerest thanks to JASH for all of your hard work this year.
JASH is headed by the energetic Mr. J.J. Naoki, Mr. William Weiland, Ms. Miwa Sakashita, all other board members and volunteers, and last but certainly not least, by Ms. Patsy Brown as its Executive Director.  On top of that, may I take this opportunity to ask for your continued support in the coming years.
I believe that it is a good and widely shared American tradition for prosperous individuals and companies to support cultural and community initiatives as a way to build trust and to eventually grow business.  Therefore it is encouraging to see Japanese companies joining in this tradition as well.  I recognize that Satake has been a generous front-runner in supporting JASH, and I am glad to know that Mitsubishi and Sumitomo have been added to the Board of Directors to join forces with long-time collaborators.  Building upon those useful initiatives, I understand that JASH’s leadership is exploring strengthened ways to relate with the goodwill and financial strength of Japanese and American companies.  I hope that this will lead to a higher reputation and stronger reach for JASH into this Houstonian community.
One of the significant activities that JASH board members have been engaged in is their most valuable contributions to the establishment and good maintenance of the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park. The generosity and initiative of Mr. Bill Weiland and Mr. Joe Hafner encouraged the community to reinvigorate the garden several years ago, and now the continued dedication of Mr. Naoki and Ms. Brown, shown through their involvement in the Japanese Garden Advisory Committee, keep the park beautiful to this day.
For all of these reasons I am very happy to have so many members of JASH here tonight, but I am also sad as we will soon lose Mr. Takahiko Watabe, our Deputy Consul General who has been the center of our strong relationship with JASH for the past four years.  I want to take this time to thank JASH for the warm friendship they have extended to him during his time in Houston. Please afford the same kindness to his successor and our new Deputy Consul General, Mr. Atsushi Iwasaki, who arrived here just 6 days ago.  Also, please take care of our new Cultural Affairs staff, Ms. Emily Gurvis, who is new to our office, comes from Indiana and is enjoying the warm weather.
Let me conclude by saying that we are looking forward to many more exciting events unfolding in the forthcoming days and weeks, and I am very glad to be reminded that this house is full of such a strong friendship and goodwill between Houston and Japan.
Thank you for your attention.