2021 New Year’s Message from Consul General MUTO Akira

Consul General Muto
To all in Southern California and Arizona, I wish you a Happy New Year. Since the COVID-19 outbreak erupted last year, many people have experienced adversity in different aspects of their daily lives. I offer my heartfelt sympathy. At the same time, I express my deep appreciation to the people who have contributed in various ways to their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and to those who have worked tirelessly to overcome these difficult times.
In order to confront the pandemic, humankind must stand united. Instead of the past paradigm where each nation-state takes on the battle, the world should work to face hardship together. Even as deaths rise across the globe, great powers such as the U.S., China and Russia do not seem to have taken the global lead to fight this pandemic that has struck humankind. Japan will embark on taking an international leadership role to contribute to the well-being of humankind. Under the new era of Reiwa, Japan is expected to transform and set an example for the world.
At the Ceremony of the Enthronement in 2019, His Majesty the Emperor expressed hope for Japan to achieve further development through the people’s unceasing efforts, and “contributes to the friendship and peace of the international community and the welfare and prosperity of humankind.”
Japan will host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in summer 2021.  To be able to host the Games safely, Japan needs to demonstrate international leadership in COVID-19 countermeasures and overcome the global pandemic. It is our greatest hope that the Games will be a global celebration of humankind’s welfare and prosperity, and a symbol of how we defeated COVID-19 together. Japan aims to achieve these goals, and holds the safe and secure management of the Games as its most important principle.
International cooperation is needed for humankind to overcome COVID-19. Since last year, the Government of Japan has provided over $1.54 billion to support bilaterally more than 80 developing countries worldwide with the provision of medical equipment and staff, along with medical and health assistance through international organizations. Japan has announced it will contribute more than $130 million for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), in order to enable lower income countries to realize equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. All countries and regions must overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, or there will be no safe location in the world, making it difficult to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games safely.
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and all involved are working together to ensure the Games, which will welcome athletes from around the globe, can be held safely and are considering all possible measures such as a streamlining of the Games and COVID-19 countermeasures.
The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles is also planning events to fuel excitement and anticipation heading into to the Games in July, so please keep an eye out for our offerings.
This year 2021 will mark 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster. The Tokyo 2020 Games will also be an opportunity to show the global community how areas hard hit by the disaster have since recovered.
In Fukushima Prefecture, the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), a hydrogen production facility, was completed in February 2020. This facility is the world’s largest-scale hydrogen facility that utilizes renewable energy sources. Through this, Japan aims to establish clean and low-cost hydrogen production technology.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay will start in Fukushima on March 25, 2021 with the concept of “Hope Lights Our Way,” to represent the dawn of a new era.
Japan aims to realize a hydrogen society by 2030 by utilizing carbon-free hydrogen production as a new energy source. To be able to promote clean hydrogen energy worldwide, it is important that Japan collaborates with the U.S. We aim to create a model for a hydrogen society, and building hydrogen infrastructure and society together in Southern California and Arizona is important.
The Japan-U.S. relationship is underpinned by grassroots exchanges between many people. In August 2020, the cities of Rancho Palos Verdes, California and Sakura, Tochigi Prefecture formed a sister city relationship. Since fiscal 2001, about 350 junior high school students from the city of Sakura have traveled to Rancho Palos Verdes to attend a local school. I am told such exchanges helped pave the way for the two cities to become sister cities.
These types of long-standing relationships between people in both Japan and the U.S. have supported our bilateral relationship. The accumulation of such grassroots cooperation and exchanges are deeply connected to support for the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
I would like to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to Japanese nationals, Japanese companies, Japanese Americans and others in the community affiliated with Japan in Southern California and Arizona, for helping to build trust and understanding. The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles will strive to facilitate stronger bonds between Japan and the U.S. in a wide range of fields.
We welcome your suggestions and input, and we will strive to offer substantial services while supporting Japanese-affiliated companies and promoting partnerships in a wide range of areas.
Thank you, and best wishes for a prosperous new year to all in 2021!

 MUTO Akira
 Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles