I wish a Happy New Year to the readers of Rafu Shimpo. Since the COVID-19 outbreak erupted last year, many people have experienced adversity and 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.

The Japanese American community has engaged in such efforts as the distribution of bento meals to those in need, and a relief fund to support small businesses. To see this spirit of cooperation and compassion is truly heartening, and I offer my sincere appreciation for initiatives joining hands for the community.

In order to confront the global pandemic, humankind should look beyond national boundaries and stand
united. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Japan will take an international leadership role to contribute to the well-being of humankind. Under the 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 “contribute to the friendship and peace of the international community and the welfare and prosperity of humankind.”

To be able to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games safely and securely, Japan needs to help the world overcome the global pandemic by demonstrating international leadership. It is our greatest hope that the Tokyo 2020 Games will be a symbol of how humankind defeated COVID-19 and a global celebration of humankind’s welfare and prosperity.

For humankind to overcome COVID-19, international cooperation in medical and healthcare fields is needed. Since last year, the Government of Japan has provided over $1.54 billion to extend assistance to more than 80 developing countries worldwide. To enable developing countries to realize equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, Japan has announced it will contribute more than $130 million for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). The world must overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, or it may be difficult to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games safely.

The year 2021 will mark 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster. The Tokyo 2020 Games will also be a platform to show the global community the recovery of areas hard hit by the disaster.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), a hydrogen production facility, was completed at the end of February 2020. This facility is the world’s largest-scale hydrogen facility that utilizes renewable energy sources.

To help expand the global use of clean hydrogen energy, and realize a hydrogen society beyond Japan, building hydrogen infrastructure and society together in Southern California and Arizona is important. It is my hope that we can work together to create a model for a hydrogen society.

The Japan-U.S. relationship is underpinned by long-standing friendship and goodwill cultivated by many people over the years. The accumulation of cooperation and exchanges in a wide range of fields is deeply connected to support for the Japan-U.S. alliance.

In 2021, we will strive to continue offering substantial services to the public along with support to Japanese-affiliated companies, while promoting partnerships in a wide range of areas. Thank you, and best wishes to you all.

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