The new consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, Kenko Sone (曽根健孝), posted the following message on Sept. 1.
To the residents of Southern California and Arizona, I am Sone Kenko, the newly installed consul general of Japan in Los Angeles.
In summer 1990, when I arrived in the United States as part of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs study an d training program, I first spent time in Los Angeles for summer school classes. As such, I feel a special connection to this region.
Upon spending two years in Connecticut for the study and training program, I was posted at the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America in Washington, D.C. for around three years from 1992 and for approximately two years from 2011. About 10 years has passed since my second stint at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C., and I feel honored to serve as consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, a region with deep connections to Japan.
Southern California is the top North American destination for Japanese companies. Japan is also Southern California’s top foreign investor, underscoring Japan’s very strong ties with the region. I intend to be an approachable consul general that works closely with Japanese companies and helps to create an environment that allows them to fully demonstrate their strengths.
In particular, California has been an early adopter within the U.S. of advanced initiatives to address the environment and climate change, which have emerged as global issues in recent years. By applying Japan’s strengths in hydrogen technology and other fields, Japan and California can work together in advanced manufacturing fields to ensure clean air and water and to achieve zero emissions. Such cooperation can further strengthen our countries’ economic ties, as it is also imperative for Japan and the U.S.’ global leadership in addressing issues.
In addition, Southern California and Arizona are important regions for Japanese agricultural and food exports. In this regard, this region is becoming the first ahead of other countries and regions to welcome the establishment of a new platform to support exports by combining the resources of Japanese diplomatic missions and the Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) overseas offices. I believe that further promoting Japanese food and its export will be an important duty.
Southern California is home to the largest population of Japanese nationals in the world outside of Japan, as well the largest Japanese American community in the U.S. These individuals are the heart and soul of Japan-U.S. exchanges in many different fields, and their activities have helped underpin our bilateral friendship. In looking toward the Japan-U.S. friendship 10 years from now as well as 20 years and onward, I believe that working with the Japanese American community, particularly younger generations that will carry the community into the future, will be my most important role.
This region has flourished through the contributions of many diverse communities and cultures of individuals who hail from European, Latino, African, Asian and Jewish backgrounds. I will continue the Consulate General’s efforts to reach out to pursue collaborations with different communities.
Los Angeles — home to the entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood — is an attractive locale and environment to showcase Japanese culture and content offerings. Having served until recently as director-general for cultural affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I look forward to partnering with Japan House Los Angeles and other related agencies and organizations to proactively promote traditional aspects as well as new facets of Japan to a worldwide audience.
Turning to Arizona, technology, semiconductors, aerospace, environment, biotechnology, mining, and tourism are among the flourishing industries, making it a state that has drawn the attention of Japanese companies. About 60 Japanese companies have made a foray into Arizona, generating around 10,000 jobs. Also, the Arizona Matsuri, organized by friends of Japan, has been held annually, drawing large audiences. I hope to work with the people who are involved with Japan-U.S. exchanges in business and culture to further strengthen ties between Japan and Arizona.
In Southern California and Arizona, we have so many friends of Japan. These regions are home to beautiful Japanese gardens that offer visitors an opportunity to deepen their appreciation of Japan. At the same time, there are many people eager to work with Japanese companies to support their activities. I look forward to meeting people who are studying Japanese, and hold an interest in Japanese culture and society. By working with them, I am hopeful that we can make new friends of Japan who are interested in learning about my country.
Once engaged in war many decades ago, our nations have overcome those past troubled times to become close allies connected in deep friendship. As the late former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said in his address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in 2015, the U.S.-Japan alliance is an “Alliance of Hope.” The deeply rooted friendships between Japan and Southern California, and Japan and Arizona exemplify strong Japan-U.S. ties and also serve as a foundation for them.
My utmost duty as consul general of Japan in Los Angeles will be to further cultivate goodwill between Japan and the U.S. fostered over many years by the residents of Southern California and Arizona. At the same time, I aim to help support the environment surrounding the Japanese American community alongside the prosperity of American society.
By working together with Japanese nationals, Japanese Americans, Japanese and Japanese-affiliated businesses, as well as all friends of Japan in our region, I will make utmost effort to further bolster Japan-U.S. ties. To further ensure the safety and improved lives of all, I seek to work towards ensuring that we can offer substantial services at the Consulate General of Japan. I will be grateful for your continued understanding and cooperation.
1989: Graduated from Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo
1989: Entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA)
2008: Director, OECD Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, MOFA
2010: Director, International Economy Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, MOFA
2011: Economic counselor, Embassy of Japan, USA
2013: Director, First North America Division, North American Affairs Bureau, MOFA
2014: Deputy Cabinet secretary for public affairs, Cabinet Secretariat director, Office of Global Communications, Prime Minister’s Office
2016: Minister (economic and development), Embassy of Japan in India
2019: Deputy director-general, Economic Affairs Bureau
2020: Deputy director-general, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau
2021: Assistant minister, director-general for cultural affairs
2021: Ambassador in charge of sport and budo
2022: Consul general, Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles