Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka
at a reception at San Antonio College
to recognize American servicemen and women
who have served in Japan
on October 22, 2015

October 22, 2015

Thank you for your kind introduction.  As Consul-General of Japan in Houston and representing Japan in this great state of Texas, I would like to welcome you all to this very important event for Japan, and express my sincere appreciation to the servicemen and servicewomen and their families here tonight who have been stationed in Japan. Thank you all for your dedicated service which contributed greatly to the enhancement of the security of Japan and the Japan-U.S security alliance, and for the bonds you have cultivated between our two countries. Today’s event highlights the importance of our nations’ friendship even after your service in Japan has ended.

When we began planning this hopefully annual event in Texas to build networks and connect past and present service members and family stationed in Japan, I knew that San Antonio would be the ideal place to start it this year.  Not only because there is a traditionally strong link between Japan and San Antonio, symbolized by the solid sister-city link with Kumamoto City, as well as the presence of Toyota Motor Manufacturing. But because San Antonio is home to several important military bases, such as the Joint Base San Antonio, which is comprised of Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, and Randolph Air Force Base. Additionally, Lackland Air Force Base is home to the Defense Language Institute where several members of the Japanese Self Defense Force are currently studying.  I am certain they have been enjoying excellent Texan hospitality during their time here, and for that you have my gratitude.

I would also like to express my appreciation to General Ed Rice for his attendance tonight, as well as his support and remarks.  I must also thank Mr. Bill Gaines, retired air force and Chief of Civic Outreach at the Joint Base San Antonio. Without his help, this event would not have been possible and we appreciate all your efforts to organize this occasion. Finally, I thank every serviceman and servicewoman and their families from the Army, Navy and Air Force for sharing tonight’s event with us.

Since the current international situation has serious challenges both globally as well as in Asia, the alliance between Japan and the United States has become all the more critical. Japan welcomes President Obama’s policies on rebalancing and Japan has done its part by recently passing security legislation in the Japanese Parliament, and taken the crucial steps to further evolve its partnership with the U.S.

For us here in Texas, I feel events like tonight highlight the importance of communication and networking between the servicemen and servicewomen who devoted their precious time, strength and efforts to maintaining this bond. I strongly hope that this event should become an annual affair. I have recently received word that I have been ordered back to Japan after completing my two years and two months as Consul General in Houston, and I am immensely grateful to have seen the inauguration of this event during my tenure.

Because San Antonio and Kumamoto are so closely aligned, and additionally that Kumamoto Prefecture boasts one of the highest recruitment numbers for Japan’s Self-Defense Force personnel,  it is also exciting for me to see the presence of one of the most popular and beloved local characters of Japan, Kumamon, as part of our exchange. Kumamon has done great work earlier today by paying a courtesy call to the City Council of San Antonio. Tomorrow Kumamon will visit the AT&T Center to join the Coyote in cheering on the San Antonio Spurts. I am happy to see such a cheerful representative of the friendship between our two nations.

Again, please accept my sincere thanks to you all for your presence here tonight, and for the honorable service you each have given to both your country, Japan, and the world.