Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Tetsuro Amano
on a reception to celebrate two astronauts;
Mr. Takuya Onishi (Japan) and Dr. Kate Rubins (US)
for their planned mission
to the International Space Station (ISS)
on the Expedition 48/49
at his residence on April 13, 2016

April 13, 2016

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Good evening.

Thank you for joining me tonight to cheer on these two great astronauts before their heroic departure on an important mission for the benefit of all mankind to the International Space Station. I must also mention that another Russian cosmonaut, Anatoli Ivanishin, who is also going to the ISS with them could not join us tonight because he is currently out of Houston. 

I am honored that our Consulate has been able to organize this kind of reception two years in a row at my residence in the presence of Mr. Takuya Onishi of JAXA, and Dr. Kate Rubins of NASA. I would like to thank particularly Mr. Mr. Kirk Shireman, Manager, ISS Program, and Mr. Chris Cassidy, Chief, Astronaut Office, of NASA and Mr. Yasushi Hisadome, Director of the JAXA Houston Office, who are both indispensable to the US-Japan cooperation in the field of Space Development. I also wish to spotlight two other Japanese astronauts here this evening; Mr. Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese veteran and experienced astronaut and Mr. Norishige Kanai, Japan's youngest astronaut.

I have always felt that astronauts are both incredibly heroic and elite in the truest 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 gifted as well, which I truly appreciate and am humbled by. It also makes me proud to see Mr. Onishi as a part of this strong team, following in the footsteps of 9 other Japanese astronauts, including Mr. Noguchi, who have made the space voyage before him.

In November 1998, the construction of the ISS started. Since then, the project has been a quintessential example of the international cooperation among 15 countries. 6 astronauts of diverse nationalities are currently living harmoniously together and helping each other seek the supreme objectives in a physically small space in the Universe. As a Japanese diplomat who has sometimes experienced tough negotiations and discussions with other foreign diplomats, this fact encourages me enormously. In this regard, I would like to pay my highest respect to the two astronauts here. Please give them a very big hand.    

Before I welcome our next speaker, Mr. Onishi, I would like to propose a toast for the continued collaboration of these 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 48/49: Cheers and Kanpai!