Spring 2015
Published by the Consulate General of Japan in New York / Japan Information Center
Four Things You Didn’t Know About the
New Ambassador
Throughout his long career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi has certainly seen the world. His diplomatic career has brought him into contact with many unique cultures, and he made many friends along the way. These personal relationships seem to be the key to understanding his approach to diplomacy. The Ambassador strongly believes that only by truly getting to know people on an individual basis are we able to avoid the pitfall of stereotypes.

We sat down with Ambassador Takahashi the other day to learn a little more about him beyond what appears on his resume.

Here are four things you don't yet know about him...
  • An RPG hit the Japanese Embassy while he was Ambassador to Afghanistan

    When Ambassador Takahashi was posted in Kabul in 2011, the security situation in the country was particularly unstable. The Japanese Embassy, a compound containing both the offices and residences of the diplomats working there, was like a small fortress. It was impossible to leave the compound to go out shopping or have dinner at a restaurant. “If it’s absolutely necessary to go out for official business, you will be guarded by security guards,” he describes. “In my case it’s ex-marines with Special Forces experience.”

    The precautions, unfortunately, were warranted. At one point, the Embassy compound was struck by RPGs (rocket powered grenades). One hit very close to the Ambassador’s residence, shattering a window on the first floor. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it was an extremely alarming experience for everyone on site.

    Living in those conditions, however, there was a strong sense of solidarity amongst the diplomatic community. Perhaps this is why what made the strongest impression on the Ambassador was not the danger he encountered in Kabul, but the friends that he made during his time there.
  • He met his wife in high school

    The Ambassador has known his wife, Masako, since their high school days, when she was one year junior to him, and they have seen the world together. With the exception of Afghanistan, she has been able to accompany him to every country he has worked in, including France, South Korea, and India.

    Madam Takahashi, like her husband, loves to partake of the local culture wherever she goes. In India, she was especially drawn to the beautiful textiles crafted there, and added many to her personal collection. Husband and wife are known to play golf together, and have a love of good food. They are especially looking forward to New York’s many restaurant offerings, as they know this city is a top-notch culinary destination.
  • He is an avid tennis player and fan of the game

    The Ambassador enjoys playing tennis in his free time, and likes to watch the game as well. He was excited to watch last year when the Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori made history as the first Asian man to reach the finals of the U.S. Open.

    Now that Ambassador Takahashi is posted in New York, he is hoping that Kei will make it to the finals again, so he can watch him play at Flushing Meadows.
  • He realizes you already know a lot about Japan, but he hopes to add a personal touch

    The Ambassador realizes that many New Yorkers have a sophisticated understanding of Japanese culture. With information so accessible nowadays, he says, "I can find [Americans] that can tell me the difference between Niigata sake and Fukushima sake, or the difference between Kyushu onsen and Hokkaido hot springs."

    However, there is still a lot of important information that the Consulate can provide to an American audience about Japan. For instance, with so many international investors in New York, it is crucial that the Japanese government communicates about what its policymakers have in mind when they make economic decisions. And he hopes to encourage more Americans to visit Japan. He says he’d "like to take as personal a touch as possible to tell potential visitors the attractions they might not know about Japan" by meeting the people the Consulate serves and having face-to-face conversations.

    "Yoroshiku onegai shimasu"

    When asked if he has a message for our readers, the Ambassador says, first of all, ""Yoroshiku onegai shimasu"." This Japanese phrase is usually translated as "Nice to meet you," but contains the added nuance of, "Thank you in advance for your kindness."

    Ambassador Takahashi feels privileged to be in one of the most exciting cities in the world, particularly now, when interest in Japan is on the rise. He hopes to get to know many of you during his time here, forging individual friendships to reinforce the strong ties of friendship that already exist between Japan and the US.

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