Greeting from the Consul General
|Happy New Year!
There were many occasions in which Japan caught the world’s attention in 2019. In May, His Majesty the Emperor acceded to the Imperial throne, bringing an end to the era of Heisei and the beginning of Reiwa. In October, the enthronement ceremony took place, with heads of state and delegations from nearly 200 countries in attendance. Leaders in the world made visits to Japan throughout the year, from the G20 Summit in Osaka in June, to the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in August. Furthermore, the Rugby World Cup took place from September to November and Japan’s winning streak attracted a lot of attention.
In Washington State, there were significant changes within the Japanese and Japanese American communities. In March, longtime Mariner Ichiro Suzuki announced his retirement from the Major Leagues, and in June newscaster Lori Matsukawa retired after over 35 years at KING-TV. There were also notable career beginnings by young Japanese athletes: Yusei Kikuchi joined the Mariners, and Rui Hachimura of Spokane’s Gonzaga University became a first-round pick in the NBA draft. Thanks to the efforts of young athletes such as these, Japan exhibited a strong presence in the realm of sports in 2019. Grassroots exchanges between Washington State and Japan also saw some important anniversaries this year, with Tacoma and Kitakyushu celebrating 60 years, and both Renton and Nishiwaki, and Bellevue and Yao marking 50 years of sister city relations.
What is in store for 2020? In America, the presidential election will take place, along with gubernatorial elections in Washington State and Montana. In Japan, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will begin, putting Japan in the spotlight once again. This year also marks 75 years since the end of World War II, and 60 years since the signing of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Japanese passports will also be renewed this year to feature a selection of images from Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, along with a more advanced RFID chip for improved security.
At the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle, we will work to maintain and further develop our friendly relationships with Washington State and Montana in 2020, highlighting the appeals of Japan to both states. We hope to encourage more exchange and help to strengthen our ties in the areas of business, culture, and tourism. As always, we will strive to foster connections among people and do our best to help them solve any challenges that may arise.
I sincerely hope that 2020 will be a joyful and prosperous year for you all.
Consul General of Japan in Seattle
January 1, 2020