Akira Muto

I wish a Happy New Year to the readers of Rafu Shimpo. In 2021, humankind continued its battle against COVID-19 and especially at a time when many are unable to return to their pre-pandemic lives, I would like to pay my respects to the considerable efforts of those individuals who, through inventiveness and ingenuity, have continued contributing to their communities and spheres of influence.

The year of Reiwa 3 (2021) saw Japan host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. While the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc worldwide, Japan ensured that it did everything possible to hold the Games as promised, implementing a variety of infection countermeasures and bearing the burden of resulting restrictions and fears of infection.

To the nations’ athletes, Japan offered a stage on which they could shine before a worldwide audience at the expense of the Cabinet. To the global audience suffering from the pandemic’s impact, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games offered a moment to dream and hope, to be moved, and to draw inspiration and courage. By bringing humankind together, the Games reminded us of the remarkable power of sports, and they presented to the world the possibilities offered when minds and hearts eschew barriers in favor of realizing a society where those with and without disabilities can come together.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to the athletes who inspired the world, and I am also proud to be able to say that Japan made its utmost contribution to the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, it brings me even more pride to hear global experts stating that under the circumstances, holding the Games would not have been feasible except in Japan.

Looking ahead, it may be difficult for COVID-19 to be fully eradicated. The upcoming year may be unpredictable, but reviving the economy while controlling infections is the biggest challenge. As consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, I continue to hope that the flow of people and goods between our borders can be revitalized to promote further development of bilateral interchanges and economic ties between Japan and the U.S. To achieve this, border entry restrictions will need to end eventually. I will continue to work towards realizing as soon as possible the normalization of interchanges between our nations.

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 also supporting Japanese-affiliated companies and promoting partnerships in many areas. Thank you, and best wishes to you all.

Akira Muto, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles

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