Consul General Akira Muto greets actress Kaori Momoi at a reception at his official residence on Thursday.

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

Consul General Akira Muto was warmly welcomed to Southern California on Thursday at an official reception held at the consul general’s residence in Hancock Park.

Hundreds gathered to meet Muto and his wife Misako on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Muto noted that he is the first consul general of Japan in Los Angeles appointed during the new imperial era, Reiwa.

“Reiwa means ‘splendid harmony’ and there would be no place more fitting to contributing to this harmony than the great city of diversity, Los Angeles, which has the second-largest consular corps outside of New York located here in Southern California,” Muto said. “I am happy to join with my consul colleagues and our respective local communities to build bridges for greater harmony between our nations and our people.”

Muto’s prior postings include serving as consul general in Boston and as director of the Russian Division of the European Affairs Bureau. Most recently he was a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Consul General Akira Muto addresses about 400 guests at the reception.

In his official comments, Muto emphasized the diversity of Los Angeles and noted that in the first weeks of his posting he has attended a Jewish Shabbat service, an event marking Japanese-Armenian friendship, and the East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade.

He paid tribute to the late Dean Matsubayashi, executive director of Little Tokyo Service Center, who passed away last month.

“Little Tokyo Service Center has always valued, respected and appreciated the diversity of cultures in Los Angeles. In its work, LTSC has always collaborated with and supported other ethnic communities in building affordable housing and providing social services,” Muto said.

Several government officials were in attendance, including: State Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), former Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Assemblymember Lauran Friedman (D-Glendale), Buena Park Mayor Art Brown, Carson Mayor Albert Robles, and Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda.

“I seek your support in accomplishing my mission to contribute to peace and harmony in the great city of Los Angeles as well as other cities in our jurisdiction,” Muto said.

Photos by TOMOKO NAGAI/Rafu Shimpo

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