Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at Reception in Honor of Mr. Naoki Junjiro
with Minister for Foreign Affairs Commendations
on February 17 , 2015

February 17, 2015

Thank you for joining me at this reception to congratulate Mr. Junjiro Naoki, commonly known as J.J. Naoki, who was awarded the prestigious Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commendation for his service in promoting Japan-US relations by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Mr. Fumio Kishida in August of last year in Tokyo.  Today it is my great pleasure to share his honor together with his family and friends in Houston.

Born in Japan, Mr. Naoki first came to Alabama in 1984 as an employee of Mitsubishi Corporation. During his six years in Alabama, Mr. Naoki acted on his natural inclination to help form bonds between people by leading the campaign to establish the North Alabama Japanese Business Association, the Japanese language school in Huntsville, and the Japan America Society in Alabama, for which he served as the Vice President for one year.  For his work in bringing more Japanese companies to Alabama, the governor awarded Mr. Naoki the title of Honorary Citizenship in 1984, Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in 1988, and Honorary Ambassador in 1990.

After returning to the U.S. in 1998, this time settling here in Houston as the President of Satake USA, Mr. Naoki continued pursuing his passion: contributing to Japanese society abroad and promoting Japan-US relations. In 2003 he became the First Vice President of the Japanese Association of Greater Houston and in 2005 become the President, a post he filled for two years. Since 2010 Mr. Naoki has served as the President of the Japan America Society of Houston, working to strengthen the organization so it can continue to offer excellent activities such as Houston Japan Festival, the Japanese Language Speech Contest, and the good maintenance of the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park. As I understand, we must see him off as president in May, although I am sure that he will continue his good works for the community.

Beyond his contributions to the community, Mr. Naoki is also very successful in his business of cereal, grain and rice processing. Speaking of rice, in 1904 a famous Japanese Professor, the Honorable Seito Saibara, the President of Doshisha University and member of the Japanese parliament, brought Japanese rice seeds and production techniques to Texas for the first time. He, along with fellow Japanese families, began rice farming in Webster, Texas.  I am glad that Professor Saibara’s spirit has been inherited by Satake USA, headed by Mr. Naoki, which continues to promote rice industry in the United States. Mr. Noaki has further contributed to making Houston an international hub for the rice industry by traveling by himself across Europe and South America to reach out to the global market. 

In addition to this business contribution, I would like to recognize that Mr. Naoki’s good character and genuine personality has been a great asset to Japan-U.S. exchange.  His English is easy for Japanese people to understand and makes them feel more confident in using English and communication with Americans, even more so with his typical Japanese business person look. This relatable and relaxed attitude of his has gathered together a truly international group of friends and admirers, including all of us in this house tonight.

I am very happy this evening that my great neighbor, a friend of Mr. Naoki’s, and a long-time JASH supporter, Mr. Joe Hafner, is joining us tonight to say a few words. Mr. Hafner . . .