Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Remarks by Consul-General Tetsuro Amano
on The Reception in Celebration
of the Birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan
at his residence on
December 6, 2016

December 6, 2016

Remarks by Consul-General Tetsuro Amano at the Emperor’s Birthday Reception held on December 6th at the Official Residence


Representative Jarvis Johnson,
Councilman Robert Gallegos,
Councilman Steve Le,
Councilman David Robinson,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Evening!

Later this month, I will celebrate my one year anniversary of arriving in Houston for my duties as Consul General of Japan.  I am so privileged to celebrate today’s reception together with all of you after enjoying excellent American hospitality, and witnessing the strong relations between Japan, Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the United States. During my year stationed in Houston, I have already visited Dallas-Fort Worth 16 times, San Antonio 12 times, Austin 3 times and Oklahoma 3 times, the record of which has already surpassed all of my predecessors’ visits. And through each of my visits, I have been very impressed with the immense gratitude the people of Texas as well as Oklahoma have shown towards Japan.

I am so grateful for the presence of so many distinguished guests, colleagues and friends. I am pleased to welcome Texas State Representative Jarvis Johnson to my home this evening. We are also lucky tonight to be joined by representatives from the fine city of Houston, including Matthew Shailer, representing the office of Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, as well as City Council Members Councilman Robert Gallegos, Councilman Steve Le and Councilman David Robinson. From the Federal level we are also joined by Mr. Grant Murray from Senator Ted Cruz’s office, by Mr. Ruben Cruz and Ms. Catherine Le from the office of Congressman Al Green, as well as Ms. Brooke Bacuetes from Congressman John Culberson’s office. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was also kind enough to send their proclamation of support, delivered by Mr. Booker Morris and Mr. Daniel Espinoza. Furthermore I'd also like to welcome my friend Mr. Nicholas Papp, Regional Office Director in Houston for the U.S State Department.

The 23rd of this month marks the 83rd birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, Akihito. Throughout his 28 years reign, His Majesty has actively promoted goodwill with foreign countries including the United States, as you have all already seen in the video here. As I am sure many of you know, this March marked the fifth anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. At the memorial for this grave event, His Majesty on behalf of Japan thanked the kind support given by many friendly countries and organizations during Japan’s recovery efforts.  He especially thanked the U.S.’s gracious assistance in the “Tomodachi” operation to Japan in the wake of the disaster. It is one of symbol how our two countries have come a very long way in our friendly relationship since World War II.  It is our strong desire to continue this commitment for the further enhancement of our relationship. Taking this opportunity, I would also like to convey our sincere thanks for Americans’ kind hearted support to the victims of Kumamoto earthquake last April. After that disaster, Kumamoto received over 1 million dollars from the people in its sister city of San Antonio. 

This past year there have been innumerable developments to this treasured bilateral relationship. I would like to share a few examples which symbolize the development in our ties. Firstly, in May, Japan was honored to host the G7 summit in Ise-Shima. Japan has long been an important member of the G7 Summit and works tirelessly alongside other countries including the United States. These proceedings were no exception, and Japan is happy to provide future meeting places for such monumental talks.  

Just after the G7 Summit in Ise-Shima, President Barack Obama made a historical visit to Hiroshima. We appreciate sincerely that the president became the first acting American president to visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. The President has always spoken highly of the unity between our two countries, and his visit demonstrated the continued development of our friendly and matured relations.  

Additionally in the field of security policy, for the past few years Japan has updated our defense arrangements with the U.S. including new Japan-U.S. defense guidelines and introducing new legislation for Peace and Security last September. We are assured that this new legislation will enable us to contribute proactive role for peace in the world as well as to enhance the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. alliance to better the stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Furthermore, in our two countries’ bilateral economic cooperation field, the U.S. is still the most important partner for Japan in terms of trade, investment, infrastructure, energy and technology. In 2015, we had about a total $200 billion dollars in bilateral trading volume, decreasing the ratio of U.S. trade deficit to Japan to around 9% in total. In regards to investments and economic exchange, the U.S. is the biggest partner for Japan interactively, occupying about 30% of both’s ratio. In this sense, Japanese business is one of the biggest investors to Texas, which also contributes to enhance local employment. And in this connection, there have been great strides in the economic exchange between this region and Japan as well. This is true with the move of Toyota’s USA headquarters from California to Texas next year, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry USA relocating its headquarters from N.Y. to Houston last May, and then also Daikin USA integrating their all factories in the U.S. to the suburban area of  Houston in May of next year. Moves by such major businesses will surely strengthen this region, and other Japanese companies are expected to be follow one after another. Also in aviation, both All Nippon Airways in Houston and Japan Airlines in Dallas-Fort Worth’s non-stop flights to Japan are celebrating their successful one year anniversaries this year. They are expected to contribute to further develop not only the business exchange between our countries, but also a human exchange together with their partners, United and American Airlines.

As for infrastructure, Texas Central Partners (TCP) is currently promoting the Houston-Dallas Fort Worth High Speed Rail project, and celebrated the successful contract for technical cooperation between JR Central and TCP last October. I am sure that this project will lead to great success, both for Japan-US economic cooperation, as well as modern innovation in transportation.

With the successful Japanese business activity in Texas in mind, I would like to invite all of you here to appreciate enjoy the exhibition of 5 Japanese company here this evening; Toyota USA, JR Central, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Daikin and Hitachi Shipbuilder are all here in the garden to speak with you at your leisure.

Furthermore in energy, with Japanese LNG imports, we are now processing big LNG projects such as the Freeport and Cameron projects in Texas and Louisiana, alongside close mutual partnerships between Japanese and American businesses. With operations all going smoothly, we can expect full production after 2017.

In the technological field, especially space cooperation, we are now promoting significant cooperation for the International Space Station project through NASA and JAXA. As a part of this cooperation, JAXA has already succeeded in dispatching some excellent Japanese astronauts such as Mr. Kimiya Yui last year, Mr. Takuya Onishi this year, and Mr. Norishige Kanai next year, who joins us here this evening. We can expect such cooperation to develop steadily in the future. I would like to introduce another new development of Japan-U.S. scientific cooperation this year with the data processing demonstrative experiment between UT Data Center in Austin and Japanese NTT Data financed by NEDO last April, as well as the signing of a contract for bubble telescope cooperation between UTSA and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan last November.

However, we cannot forget to commend the development of Japan-U.S. local government level cooperation. In February, the deputy Governor of Mie prefecture of Japan visited City of San Antonio together with a local business delegation. Mr. Hideaki Omura, governor of Aichi prefecture of Japan, visited Austin in April in order to sign with Governor Abbott an agreement of future economic cooperation between Aichi and Texas. I do hope that this cooperation will continue to grow towards our most prosperous future.    

This past year has seen many exciting events of cultural exchange of which I am sure many of you have attended. For example, the TOMODACHI Initiative hosted by US-Japan Council and headed by Ms. Hirano Inoue enhanced mutual understandings with the participation by young students from both countries, some of whom visited Texas earlier this year. I would also like to commend the JET language program, whose 56 young teachers from Texas and Oklahoma contribute to strengthen our mutual understanding and friendship through language learning. Furthermore, the “Walk in America, Talk on Japan” program hosted by the Japanese Prime Minister’s office for the past 3 years dispatches a Japanese volunteer delegation to 30 states in the U.S. One delegation, headed by Ambassador Shotaro Oshima, visited Oklahoma in November to promote better understandings between Japan and the United States.

Furthermore, the Japan Festival in Houston hosted by Japan-US Society of Houston with close support of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Japanese Association of Greater Houston saw another great success in demonstrating Japanese culture here in Texas. Similar events were also celebrated in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. And we have promoted the Japanese language in Texas with a Symposium for Japan Update hosted by the Japan-U.S. Society of Houston and Dallas, as well as traditional Japanese culture activities, such as flower arrangement promoted by Ikebana International, tea ceremony by Tankokai, and Japan’s peculiar comic storytelling of ‘Rakugo` hosted by Japanese Association. And many, many others.

I am honored to see so many people here this evening that are talented advocates of the U.S.-Japan cultural exchanges, and I greatly look forward to our Consulate’s participation in these important events.  I would especially like to appreciate the contributions by Kawashima-san for her outstanding Koto, traditional Japanese harp play, Sugitani-san for his authentic voice during the Japan-U.S. National Anthem and Mochizuki-san’s team for Kaminari Taiko, the Japanese traditional martial drum, all of which you will enjoy this evening.

I do not anticipate these great accomplishments will slow down in 2017.  Next year Houston will be lucky enough to celebrate our 45th anniversary as a Sister-City to Chiba, Japan, and San Antonio will celebrate its 30th year anniversary with Kumamoto, Japan. Houston will also see the 25th anniversary of the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park. These are just a few of the exciting opportunities next year will bring for this Consulate and the future of our bilateral relations.

Last but not least, recently Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first top leader to visit with President-elect Donald Trump. This occasion only highlights the strong friendship between our nations, shared with the universal values of democracy, freedom, the respect of basic human rights and rule of law. I am certain the Japan-U.S. alliance will continue, as U.S. leadership in Asia-Pacific region is still very crucial to this region’s stability, peace and prosperity, contributes not only in the region’s interest but also the U.S. national interest. In this regard, we would like to stress how important TPP is to U.S. economic development as well as the U. S. security leadership going forward and hope to see it realized very soon.

Please enjoy yourself fully at tonight’s reception. We are very happy to share our special program this evening with 5 Japanese companies’ exhibiting, a Japanese Martial Drum performance by Mochizuki School, Sushi Bar presented by Mr. Glen Gondo as well as Kobe beef made in USA barbecue style as the symbol of Japan-U.S. friendship.

Finally I would like to express my sincere gratitude, as well as my deepest wishes for the continued prosperity of Houston, for all of Texans’ and Oklahomans’ personal happiness, and the continued success for our friendship. I wish you Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Thank you for your attention!