The last year not only marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, it was also a significant year for the relationship between Japan and the United States. In April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first Prime Minister of Japan to speak in front of a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Additionally, the Japan-U.S. security alliance was strengthened and, in October, an agreement in principle was reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through the leadership of our two countries. I believe we have entered a new stage in deepening Japan-U.S. relations.
It was also a momentous year for the relationship between Japan and this region. In September, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee embarked on an overseas trade mission that began in Hyogo–a prefecture that has been tied to Washington for over 50 years. Further contributing to the strong ties with Hyogo, Tatsuno City and the City of Covington established the 36th sister-city relationship between Japan and Washington State. In the fall, I visited the State of Montana and met with Governor Steve Bullock, confirming the solid relationship between Japan and Montana.
Meanwhile, 2015 marked a very joyous event: the successful maiden flight of the new Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). I felt a sense of pride as I watched an online transmission of the magnificent aircraft taking off. The MRJ is Japan’s first commercial jet and U.S. airline customers are responsible for more than 80% of the orders. Technical support is continuing at the Seattle Engineering Center, which opened last summer in cooperation with local partners, and Washington’s aerospace industry is supplying many of the jet parts. MRJ is truly an aircraft “developed and made with the State of Washington and the U.S.” Starting this year, Moses Lake is slated to serve as the base for American flight testing. I look forward to seeing the MRJ in the skies over Washington soon.
In order to further deepen the strong relations between Japan and the United States, tailored support at the local level, in addition to on a national scale, is of great importance. Toward this end, our Consulate hopes to advance our efforts and we ask for your continued understanding and cooperation in this endeavor.
Lastly, I extend my best wishes to all of you for a happy New Year and a prosperous 2016.