|Letters and Messages|
Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at Centennial Commemoration of Japanese Monument
to the Alamo Heroes on November 5, 2014
November 5, 2014
Good afternoon and thank you for welcoming the Japanese delegation to the Centennial Commemoration of Professor Shiga’s Presentation of the Japanese Monument to the Alamo Heroes, members of the Junior Ambassadors Friendship Mission and the Shinshiro City Japanese Delegation – where the famous Nagashiro Castle is located – is so much honored to be welcomed by San Antonio City Councilman Ron Nierenburg, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Emertia Lila Cockrell, and Judge Peter Sakai. And I am especially thankful to Dr. Margit Nagy for keeping track of this monument for so many years to make this incredible event possible. Without her we wouldn’t be celebrating here today.
I say today’s event is incredible firstly because as Professor Shiga found out 100 years ago, there is a striking similarity between the spirit of the Japanese samurai and of the Texan cowboy, who hate to surrender and choose to go for broke. This monument represents their shared values of bravery and loyalty, which led to the independence of Texas in the 19th century and the reunification of Japan in the 16th century.
The second incredible story of this monument is that it has survived for 100 years. At the beginning of those 100 years, Japan was a nation trying to catch up with Western imperial competition. Japan received a wake-up call from Commodore Perry to open its closed borders in the 19th century. Since then, I am sorry to say that disastrous mistakes and profoundly unfortunate events followed. However, from this experience Japan gained a new constitution and a strong ally in the United States. Now, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet is moving to shed new light upon the constitution to allow for a collective self-defense and stronger US-Japan alliance. During all of these historical events, this monument has stood here.
The third reason why I say today’s event is incredible is the momentum of friendship that this monument produces between San Antonio and Japan. In 1985 the Japan-America Society of San Antonio was established and I would like to recognize two of its members here today: Master of Ceremony Mr. Don Olsen, an active chapter member, as well as Ms. Mimi Yu, former chapter president.
In 1987 a sister-city relationship was established between this beautiful city and Kumamoto city. Since then, San Antonio has gained a beautiful and authentic Japanese garden, Kumamoto-en, and also welcomed Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas in 2003, which celebrated its production of 1 million pick-up trucks last year. In 1986 San Antonio also welcomed a Japanese Junior Ambassador Friendship Mission to Texas, which presented the city with a portrait of Professor Shiga. And I am happy to recognize a member of that original delegation is here with us today, 24 years later, Mr. Go Inoue – 14 years old then and now a dentist – and his mother.
In addition to these remarkable events, we must also remember important political initiatives: Former-Mayor Julian Castro’s 2013 visit to Japan, as well as the formation of the First Bipartisan US-Japan Caucus in the U.S. Congress, co-chaired by his brother Congressman Joaquin Castro. When viewed in this light, it is clear that this monument has the power to bring people together across borders and cultures. It truly is incredible.
Because of these original stories I am fortunate, and I believe we are fortunate, to be here witnessing this monument after 100 years. In that time we have grown the San Antonio-Japan relationship, the Texas-Japan relationship, and the US-Japan relationship. I am sure that this bond will survive and grow even stronger in the next 100 years.