Remarks by Consul General Yoichiro Yamada at Beyond Reconciliation: Celebrate Japan-US Alliance and Honor Nisei Veterans (September 9, 2018)

Commanders and soldiers of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and US Army,
Members of the Nisei Veterans Committee,
Honorable members of the US Federal and Washington State legislatures,
Distinguished guests,
Good morning. Ohayo gozaimasu. It is an honor for me to attend today’s event and make some remarks. I would like to thank the Sasakwa Peace Foundation USA, the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington and the Nisei Veterans Committee, who have all made today’s event possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank both the US and Japanese military forces for protecting our citizens, our countries, and our common values. The high moral and professional capabilities of both our military forces are highly regarded. Japan is grateful to the US military for the assistance they have provided during natural disasters, from the tsunami of March 2011 to the recent widespread flooding in the western half of Japan this July. I would also like to note that the American service persons and their families stationed in Japan contribute tremendously to the friendship and understanding between our two countries.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to ask the Japanese service persons if they have heard of the Japanese American special fighting units that fought for the United States during the Second World War. I am asking because I had not known about them before I came to Seattle last year.
They were the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Group and the Military Intelligent Service. They fought to prove their loyalty and patriotism as Americans, despite wide-spread racial discrimination from society in those days and wholesale imprisonment of Japanese American citizens after the Pearl Harbor attack. Their bravery and sacrifice were such that they garnered trust and respect in the US, as they became the most decorated military unit in the entire history of the US armed forces. After the war, the Japanese Americans who had lost all property because of incarceration worked hard again to rebuild their lives. The road they walked was a tough one. But they walked it with dignity, diligence and perseverance.
Today, Japan enjoys an excellent relationship with the United States despite that bitter war. The trust we enjoy among the Americans is not just because some Japanese companies make excellent products. It is not just because Japan quickly adopted a peaceful constitution and democratic governance after the war. What I learned in Seattle is that the trust Japan enjoys among the Americans today is considerably thanks to the great attitude of the Japanese Americans before, during and after the war. They have also shown how personal loyalty and integrity can lead to trust on a greater scale between two countries. I want the Japanese servicemen and women to know these important facts, because they are not recognized well in Japan. The Nisei Veteran Hall is an excellent place to learn them.
Today, Japan and the US are not just friends, but true partners in every sense. Our military alliance is not just protecting our lives, but also the principles and institutions that ensure freedom and fairness in our society. In today’s world, we are facing the rise of strongmen’s rule and their military assertiveness and expansionism. Our alliance is once again taking on special importance.
To the uniformed men and women of Japan and the United States, thank you for being at the forefront to defend our common values and interests. I wish you an even stronger bond between our armed forces for the common mission that you embody.
To conclude, I would like to thank you again for allowing me the honor to join you today. It is truly a great opportunity to gather in thanks to those who served, and who serve, for the betterment of all.
Thank you for your attention.