Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at Reception in celebration of three astronauts,
Mr. Yui (Japan), Dr. Lindgren (US)
and Mr. Kononenko (Russia),
for their mission to the International Space Station
on the Expedition 44/45
on March 11, 2015

March 11, 2015

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for joining me this evening to cheer on these three great astronauts before their heroic departure on an important mission for the benefit of all mankind to the International Space Station.  I am honored to be in the presence of Mr. Kimiya Yui of JAXA, Dr. Kjell Lindgren of NASA, and Mr. Oleg Dmitrievich Kononenko of ROSCOSMOS.  I would like to thank Mr. Ven Feng, Manager of External Integration office at NASA; and Mr. Junichi Sakai, Director of the JAXA Houston Office.  
I have always felt that astronauts are really heroic and elite in the true meaning of the word. They have a sense of mission, and a drive to further the noble cause of exploring the final frontier for mankind. Being at the forefront of this great endeavor means that astronauts must be mentally gifted, not to mention physically and scientifically which I truly appreciate and am humbled by. It also makes me proud to see Mr. Yui as a part of this strong team, following in the footsteps of 8 other Japanese astronauts who have made space voyage before him.

It gives me all the more pleasure to host you all tonight as I feel a personal connection to this expedition. Twenty-seven years ago I was a young officer in the Japanese Foreign Ministry and in charge of a bill presented to parliament which would enable JAXA, then NASDA, entry to the International Space Station. Four years earlier President Reagan had launched a far-sighted initiative to build ISS under U.S. leadership. This noble initiative, however, met some opposition in Japanese parliament as some leftist members of the Japanese parliament did not believe in the benefits of going to space and suspected that it might intensify East-West tensions. I spent a lot of time preparing material that proved otherwise.
I am glad to say that the Japanese parliament made the right decision, allowing JAXA to participate in ISS missions. I am even more pleased to be reminded today that Russia has long been part of this international endeavor by providing essential and integral parts of ISS, which we did not expect 27 years ago.
Before I welcome our next speaker, Mr. Yui, I would like to propose a toast for the continued collaboration of international partners, in appreciation of the great work done on the ground in Houston in support of this mission, and to the successful mission and safe return of ISS Expedition 44/45: Cheers, Nostrovia, and Kanpai!