Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at Opening Reception of The Art of Gaman Exhibition
at Holocaust Museum in Houston
on February 3 , 2015

February 3, 2015

Good evening ladies and gentleman.  I am honored to join you here this evening for the opening of the Art of Gaman.  I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Holocaust Museum of Houston, and to its President Ms. Gail Klein for hosting this exhibition and recognizing the otherwise maybe forgotten invaluable lessons on human dignity and civil liberties. 

My appreciation also goes to the Asia society for providing the perfect setting to reflect upon the meaning of the Art of Gaman in this superb Japanese architecture with elegance and dignity.

I would like to recognize the essential role of the Japanese American Citizens League, JACL, in promoting the cause and virtue of Japanese Americans in the United States. Thank you to the JACL Houston chapter President Mr. Gary Nakamura and Ms. Priscilla Ouchida, the national Executive Director, who has kindly flown from Washington to join us here tonight, for sponsoring the Art of Gaman exhibition. I would also like to thank AARP and Texas State director, Mr. Bob Jackson, for underwriting tonight’s reception and enhancing inclusiveness and solidarity among American heroes.

The word “gaman” means to endure in English, and Ms. Delphine Hirasuna, curator of the exhibition, added the unwritten yet essential connotation, “with dignity”.  I would personally like to add another important connotation associated with the word “gaman”: enhancement.  By enduring the seemingly unbearable experience, the Japanese Americans have actually strengthened their beautiful character. Therefore, I hope you will feel and appreciate the art and beauty that is produced from “gaman”. 

I am truly in awe of those ordinary people who created these moving pieces of art.  Seven decades ago, internees had no tools, no materials, and no formal art education.  The ingenuity and strength displayed by them in even the harshest conditions, shows the best of humanity.  The Art of Gaman is a testament to the resilience of Japanese Americans.   To move forward after internment, to become war heroes, and business and community leaders – the Japanese American community has truly persevered, a virtue they inherited from their ancestors.

I am also impressed with the democratic nature and strength of the United States. This exhibit squarely faces the past and confronts it. AARP and JACL, in sponsoring the Art of Gaman, are instrumental in revisiting history and opening a dialogue.  By educating viewers about the strength of will and character of internees, this exhibit does justice to the American past and honors the ideals of freedom. Seventy years later we are here, witness to a powerful message of democracy and inclusiveness which is the foundation of today’s American society.

Therefore, as the Consul-General of Japan in Houston, I would like to proudly pay tribute to the “gaman” of the Japanese Americans which eventually added so much to the strength of the American democracy that in turn made today’s event possible. Thank you very much.