Happy New Year 2017!
I wish to thank you for your active and continuing support last year of the Consulate General of Japan’s activities in our jurisdiction of Southern California and Arizona. Since arriving in Los Angeles in July 2016, I have met many friends of Japan, both old and new. I look forward to doing my part to further encourage understanding about Japan, and enhance goodwill between my home country and the United States.
This past 2016 was an important year for Japan-U.S. relations. It included U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May after the G-7 Ise-Shima Summit and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Pearl Harbor in December. These were historical moments as President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, while Prime Minister Abe became the first sitting Japanese leader to go to the USS Arizona Memorial. Their respective visits underscore the strength of the Japan-U.S. Alliance nurtured in the 70 years that have elapsed since the end of World War II, and symbolize our continuing bilateral friendship that remains more meaningful than ever.
At the same time, Japan’s ties with Southern California and Arizona continue to deepen in many ways. On the economic front, Japan was the No. 1 nation for direct investment in Southern California’s six counties, while Japanese and Japanese-affiliated companies employed nearly 79,000 workers in the region. These businesses, which reached in number to about 700 and 40 in Southern California and Arizona respectively, have contributed to regional economies through jobs and investment.
On the people-to-people front, sister-city relationships between Japan and our jurisdiction marked remarkable milestones in 2016, including the 40-year anniversary of ties between the city of Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture and Anaheim, and the city of Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture and Phoenix. In addition, the city of Toba in Mie Prefecture feted 50 years of sister city ties with Santa Barbara. This coming year will commemorate 60 years since the establishment of sister city relationships between Yokohama and San Diego; Sendai and Riverside; and Mishima and Pasadena. These remarkable, long-standing relationships all reflect the meaningful friendships cultivated on a grassroots basis by local officials, residents, volunteers and supporters.
Also, the Japanese American community, with its deep understanding of Japan and the U.S., has become a cornerstone for our bilateral relations. I express my heartfelt appreciation for the contributions by Japanese Americans, who have bolstered understanding about Japan and served as a bridge between our nations.
At the Consulate General, we will continue to build on efforts to promote new initiatives that highlight Japan. This year will see the opening of Japan House Los Angeles at Hollywood & Highland. Launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project will showcase the most authentic and appealing aspects of Japan to the world through art, culture, technology, tourism, entertainment, food and more. We feel very fortunate that Los Angeles was selected as a location for Japan House -- one of just three in the world opening in 2017, along with London and São Paulo. Japan House aims to spur understanding and appreciation of Japan among visitors from Los Angeles and elsewhere, and so we look forward to seeing you there!
Again, I truly appreciate your continuing support, understanding, and goodwill toward the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles. Our office will continue to work diligently to participate and engage in the growing friendship between Japan and this corner of the southwest U.S.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous year in 2017.
Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles