Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Letter by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at Memorial Service for Dr. Yoshikazu Sasaki,
former Honorary Consul General of Japan in Norman
and Professor at the University of Oklahoma
on May 9, 2015

May 9, 2015

As the representative of the Japanese government in the state of Oklahoma, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to Mrs. Koko Sasaki and those whose lives Dr. Yoshikazu Sasaki has touched through his many outstanding achievements and his extraordinary experience. 

Born in Japan and interested in science from an early age, Dr. Sasaki was devoted to making the world a better place. In 1954, he was a witness to Typhoon Toyamaru, which hit the northern part of Japan and killed 1,139 people. This incident strengthened his will to form scientific solutions to natural disasters in order to protect lives and help the world.

Immediately after their first child was born, Dr. and Mrs. Sasaki came to Texas in 1956 to study at the State University, now Texas A&M.  His pioneering work to introduce variation methods to meteorology prompted him to assume the post of a project leader at the National Science Foundation and to be invited to the University of Oklahoma.  There he became the founding father of the internationally renowned School of Meteorology in 1968. Dr. Sasaki’s important contributions in numerical weather prediction, which provide the foundation for nearly all weather forecasts, were further developed by him to save hundreds of lives by predicting tornadoes and other severe storms.

Within the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Sasaki was awarded the title of George Lynn Cross Professor in 1974 as recognition of being an outstanding research professor.  As an educator, Dr. Sasaki mentored numerous graduate students for their Masters’ Degrees and for their Ph.Ds. In recognition of his educational achievements, Dr. Sasaki was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 2004. For his research contributions, Dr. Sasaki also received the Fujiwara Award from the Meteorological Society of Japan, the highest honor in this field, and was named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Sasaki continued his academic research even after his retirement, publishing scientific articles as late as 2014.

After the oil shock in 1973 damaged the Oklahoman economy, Dr. Sasaki was asked by the Oklahoman Governor and other state officials to invite Japanese companies to Oklahoma. Although he initially did not expect to enjoy economic work, he found it very rewarding, and spent the next 15 years promoting Japan-Oklahoma relations.   He played a major role in the establishment of several Japanese businesses in the area, including Hitachi, Astellas, and Weather News.

His passion to solidify the bond of international exchange between Japan and Oklahoma did not stop there.  In 1985, he and the Dean of Kyoto University, Professor Michio Okamoto, were instrumental in founding the sister state agreement between Kyoto and Oklahoma. 

His contributions to the community were so large he was given the honor of two Yoshi Sasaki Days, the first in March 2001 when Dr. Sasaki was appointed as the first Honorary Consul General of Japan in Oklahoma, and later on his 82nd birthday for his many contributions on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Asian-American Affairs. 

The government of Japan highly commends his enormous contributions to the cultural, economic and academic interactions between Japan and Oklahoma. In 2004 the Emperor of Japan granted him the "Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon" for his life-long contributions to science and international affairs. 

Although I never had the personal honor and pleasure of meeting Dr. Sasaki, I have long heard of his many accomplishments including his invaluable dedication as the Honorary Consul-General of Japan. He did so many good things and left a standing mark in Japan-US relations, meteorological studies, and with his kind and generous assistance to Japanese people in Oklahoma, for which myself, the government and the people of Japan are truly grateful.