I wish a Happy New Year to the readers of Rafu Shimpo.

It is very encouraging that, since my arrival in September 2022, I have learned that so many people and organizations, including Japanese nationals, Japanese-affiliated companies and Japanese American organizations, are contributing in various ways to strengthening the Japan-U.S. relationship. I look forward to working with all of you this year to build up even stronger Japan-U.S. ties, and I ask for your continuing cooperation and support.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year caused major repercussions not only in Europe, but also across the globe, including in the Indo-Pacific Region. The unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force poses a challenge to principles of the rules-based international order, and is completely unacceptable. In addition to such matters pertaining to national security, international society is also being confronted with numerous economic issues with regards to such areas as energy and food supply.

Such circumstances thereby affirm even more than ever the importance of an unwavering Japan-U.S. alliance to ensure peace and stability in this region and the international society, and our two nations are working to strengthen this partnership even further.

I believe that the Consulate General of Japan has been tasked with the important role of steadfastly supporting Japan-U.S. initiatives towards realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” from Los Angeles and its vantage point of the Pacific Ocean.

With regards to the pandemic, I would like to pay my deep respects to medical professionals and the many others who continue to engage in the fight against COVID-19. At the same time, I am encouraged to see that many people are making efforts to seek new ways to live “with COVID.”

In October 2022, Japan significantly eased its border entry restrictions, kicking off the revitalization of people-to-people exchanges, which had stalled for three years. I am hearing rejoicing voices from travelers elated to have visited Japan or the U.S. after a long wait. Our consulate sees this as an opportunity to work even harder to promote exchanges in different fields and at different levels, so these interactions grow even more beyond pre-pandemic times.

Based on our solid relationships with Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans, our consulate will proactively engage in efforts to promote exchanges with different communities in this region; initiatives that enable younger generations tasked with fostering future Japan-U.S. ties to do so effectively; sister-city exchanges; and cultural exchanges through sports and budo, Japanese food and other areas.

This region we serve is home to Japan House Los Angeles and other organizations and institutions eager to promote Japanese culture. In turn, the environment is receptive to embracing Japanese cultural content and information. By tapping into this environment as much as possible, I hope to encourage the expeditious presentation of Japan’s latest culture and information to the people in our region, and also to engage in initiatives that newly contribute to mutual understanding and cooperation beyond conventional wisdom.

Within the U.S., California is one of the states pursuing state-of-the-art environmental and climate change policies. Our consulate will strongly support collaborations between Japanese companies and local stakeholders in hydrogen technologies and other fields where Japan holds an edge.

The State of California has set a target for all sales of new passenger cars to be zero-emission by 2035. Japan will explore how it can contribute to solutions that will enable California to achieve its ambitious environmental target, while also facilitating a further strengthening of Japan-U.S. economic ties and guiding our nations to become global leaders in pertinent technologies.

According to our traditional calendar, this 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, which means a year of leaps and bounds. As we work towards further “leaps and bounds” in the Japan-U.S. relationship, I hope to work with all to help make this a year full of great strides.

Lastly, I offer my best wishes to all for your good health and prosperity in the new year.

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