Happy New Year!

Consul General Jun Niimi

I would like to thank you all for your support of the various activities we engaged in last year.

The year 2012 was a great year for the Consulate General of Japan, Los Angeles as we were reminded of the long history of the Japan-U.S. friendship through various community events.

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C. from Tokyo, the consulate held two cherry tree planting ceremonies: one in San Diego in March and another in Los Angeles in November.

In addition, thanks to the strong initiative of the Huntington Library in San Marino, more than 1,000 young cherry trees were planted all over Southern California and Arizona. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all who helped us to make these events possible. Thank you.

Almost two years have passed since the tragedy of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The tremendous support from the people of Southern California and Arizona continued in 2012.

One of our goals last year was to convey our utmost appreciation to those who helped Japan. We organized a community appreciation event in March with the cooperation of the Japan Business Association of Southern California. The public concert by Ondekoza was in collaboration with the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles.

It was one of my best memories of 2012 to see the Los Angeles County Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue Team, who went to the disaster area, enjoying the taiko performance and some Japanese foods at the reception after the concert.

Full recovery from the unprecedented disaster is still a long way away. To assist the recovery effort, we need to continue promoting Japan by strengthening our participation in various community events and increasing opportunities for residents of Southern California and Arizona to be exposed to the unaltered beauty of Japanese culture. We continue to collaborate with the U.S.-Japan Council on their Tomodachi Initiative, the public-private partnership to help the recovery effort.

Another goal for the year 2013 is to strengthen our support to the Japanese American community and Japanese businesses. We welcome any suggestions and requests from the community.

The outpouring of support after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the sakura centennial projects reminded us of the strong friendship between Japan and the U.S. In order to further deepen the friendship, I renew my resolve to devote myself to my duties as consul general. As always, I truly appreciate your continuing support and understanding of the Consulate General of Japan, Los Angeles.

I wish you all happy and prosperous year 2013.

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