My Dear Friends, this is Kanji Yamanouchi, Consul General of Japan in New York.
With many new friendships and beautiful memories, I will be returning to Japan after more than three years of service. I cannot leave without expressing my profound gratitude for all your warm support throughout this time of historic change, and unity.
Together, we have faced the global COVID-19 pandemic, which started in early 2020. By spring, New York City became its epicenter.
I have been so touched that frontline workers saved countless lives and kept the city going. As gifts of gratitude to these heroes and encouragement for those in need, we at the Consulate and members of the Japanese and Japanese American community delivered bento boxes to medical professionals, essential workers and homebound seniors during this challenging time.
Throughout my stay here in New York I have always been amazed by the power of community. So I am thankful to have been part of this vibrant, Japan-related community made up of many wonderful individuals and organizations such as The Nippon Club, JCCI, the Japanese American Association of New York, Japan Society and Asia Society. I was also warmly embraced by other communities, which includes the Jewish people who share a long, rich history with Japan, shaped by courageous figures such as Ambassador Yoshitsugu Tatekawa and a recipient of his visa, Rabbi Aaron Kotler's mother, Ms. Rischel Kotler.
At the same time, I cannot forget the robust welcomes I've received from American communities throughout our jurisdiction, such as in Mineral Wells, West Virginia where I attended the grand opening of a Hino Motors plant in the summer of 2019.
From New York City's Kawasaki subway cars made in Yonkers, the New Yorkers' amazing art exhibitions and Japanese restaurants in the East Village, to Brooklyn’s growing Japan Village, and so much more, I'm deeply grateful for these Japanese contributions to local communities.
Many strong connections between the American and Japanese people have been made by the sharing our culture, despite the dark shadow of COVID-19. At Anime NYC, I was delighted to join the American fans who have built a community dedicated to Japanese pop-culture. Manga, Anime and Cosplay fans… your passion is a true bridge between the U.S. and Japan.
To the viewers of my Jimi Hendrix-inspired rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, thank you for sharing not just my passion for Rock'N'Roll, but my love for U.S.-Japan relations.
It also warmed my heart to see many of you tune into our monthly livestreamed concert series - Friday Night Live. Each virtual visit to my residence was in support of talented musicians. And together, we explored great music ranging from Japanese classics to jazz! Thank you for stopping by.
Being a part of these cultural initiatives, and part of this great city, I have been given countless wonderful memories, such as throwing the first pitch for a New York Mets game and performing with my Rock’N’Roll band at Central Park and other venues.
I have also learned so many important lessons. From dignitaries such as Henry Kissinger and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, governors and mayors, academics, directors of MOMA and the MET, JET Program teachers and university students, I appreciate the knowledge they have shared with me on how to further strengthen our bilateral relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To celebrate Japan's close and longstanding friendship with New York, and the U.S., the first ever Japan Parade is planned to be held in New York City in May of 2022. Along with a newly-established digital museum, we are making every effort to honor the remarkable history of the Japanese in New York. We must continue working together to build upon this extraordinary foundation.
Thank you for your contributions to this living history, to the steadfast ties between the U.S. and Japan. Your tremendous support and friendship are gifts I will always treasure. Please stay strong, united and hopeful through rainy days, stormy days, snowy days and of course bright sunny days head. I wish you all my very best.