Japan after March 11
At the 8th Annual Florida- Japan Summit in Tallahassee
On November 15, 2011
At Florida State University Turnbull Conference Center
Mr. Grey Swoope, Florida Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida (on behalf of the Honorable Rick Scott, Governor of Florida),
Honorable Yoshinobu Nisaka, Governor of Wakayama,
Distinguished Guests, Friends, and Colleagues,
Mr. George Gabel, thank you for your kind introduction.
I thank Mr. David Woodward for your leadership and coordination of this event. I also enjoyed a good talk yesterday night with Dr. Judith Bense, great archeologist and President of West Florida University. It is a great honor for me to make the closing remarks at this 8th Florida-Japan Summit in the capital of Florida. Some of you might wonder how Japan is doing after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami which stroke Japan on March 11 of this year. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some facts about Japan after March 11.
Appreciation to US Forces, Citizens and Experts
First of all, we are very grateful to the U.S. Armed Forces for the swift search and rescue operations they initiated immediately after the earthquake and tsunami. Governor Scott was the first person to call me at my office to express his solidarity toward the victims hit by the unprecedented calamities. Lots of Floridians, state-wide, initiated fund raisers for Japan. Thank you very much for standing with us in a most difficult moment. The Japanese people will never forget it.
I now would like to mention a couple of important things about Japan.
First of all, Japan passed from being No. 2 to being No. 3 in GDP; nonetheless, it will remain No. 2 in Foreign Direct Investment to USA, international patent applications and funding for research and development. Also, Japan will remain as No. 2, following USA, in the economic reconstruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine. Japan will also remain No. 2 in United Nations contribution.
But we are not only the No. 2; we are No. 1 in energy efficiency and new transportation system among major countries .
I also would like to point out that Japanese supply chain has already been back to normal. Some of the supplies are already exceeding the levels of pre March 11 and by the end of this year, Japanese supply chain will more than fully recover.
Secondly, although the natural disaster of March 11 was enormous, it did not change Japan fundamentally. We are committed to enhancing democracy, freedom of speech and expression, and human rights. We will always be on your side to explore the future.
Ten years ago, New Yorkers saw firsthand what friendship meant. When Japan sent firefighters from 7,000 miles away to help with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. That’s just the kind of friend that Japan is to America and to many countries around the world.
Wherever there is famine, disease, poverty, wherever there is a young democracy struggling to take root, from the frontlines to the forgotten corners, Japan is there, working hand in hand with America to build a safer, more prosperous world.
(Japan is and will remain open for business and travel.)
Last year, in 2010, the annual real growth rate of Japan was +4.0%, whereas that of USA was +2.9%.
For next year’s economic prospect, economic analysts are projecting that Japan will see a robust growth due to the strong demand for reconstruction. Reconstruction business is open to the world. Open reconstruction means that the market is open to foreign companies. We would like to have U.S. and other countries involved in our reconstruction.
In a good sense of the word, life is back to normal in Japan. Infrastructure such as express ways and Shinkansen in Northern Japan were back in service within a few weeks or a month after March 11.
There is something I would like to point out to you, if you are visiting Japan this year, you are supporting us. Last year, 727 thousands Americans visited Japan.
By the number of visitors, the United States is the fourth country of origin for tourists who visit Japan. You can enjoy Japan and visit spots of ancient culture and taste Japanese food at many good Japanese restaurants.
In 2010, The Michelin Guide designated 26 Japanese restaurants as three-star Michelin establishments. It must be a bit of surprise for French people to realize that Japan has as many as 26 Michelin 3-star restaurants in Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto. Japan is No. 1 in the world for the number of Michelin 3-star restaurants, and we got even more potential Michelin 3-stars restaurants in rural areas, since Michelin research focused on ancient and present capitals regions in Japan.
Wakayama, Sister State of Tallahassee, is one of those places you should visit to explore rich culture and foods when you next visit Japan.
I appreciate that Governor Scott attaches great importance to the development of infrastructures related to ports in order to facilitate the growth of trade and air-and sea cargoes in Miami. Miami international airport and sea port are two of the economic engines in South Florida. MIA has been handling the largest cargoes in the USA and open for 24 hours. On September 8, this year, a new transport system called MIA Mover was opened. I am proud that a Japanese company was again selected to introduce this new passenger transport system at MIA. I remember the director of Miami International Airport repeatedly mentioned the media, as well as county representatives, how accurate the Mover was. 99.9%!
Let me touch on the cultural and human exchange side:
The massive assistance and good-will Japanese people have received after March 11 is a testimony of the solid friendship we enjoy with the United States. Joint Operation “Tomodachi” or friend was conducted by American Air, Ground and Naval Forces immediately after the tsunami in March. We are very grateful indeed!
This year, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces Training Squadron has been making port calls in the United States, on both western and eastern coastal areas, such as Anchorage, San Francisco, San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Norfolk and Hawaii as the last port call. Maritime Training squadron came to visit U.S. ports to express Japanese gratitude to United States for its help.
When the Japanese Squadron visited Tampa Bay toward the end of July this year, it was enthusiastically well received by Tampa and Tampa Bay area residents. They praised the discipline and resilience of Japanese demonstrated during and after March 11, and also praised high spirit and vitality of young navy officers of the training squadron. The Commander of the squadron reiterated Japan’s lasting international commitments to, Anti-Piracy operations off Somalia as well as Japan’s support in the reconstruction efforts of the countries in Middle East and other regions.
On another note, we are increasing cultural and human exchanges this year.
In the last 25 years, Japan has maintained its JET Program, sending American university graduates to teach English as assistant teacher. More than 27 thousands Americans were dispatched to district unknown to most Americans. These American young people became as great common assets to promote understanding between the two countries.
Sometime ago, I heard the story of an American named Monty Dickson who taught English at Yonesaki Elementary School as part of the JET program. While in Japan, Monty came to love Japanese poetry, and on the morning of March 11th, he had translated a poem by Japanese into English, and it read: “There’s nothing as beautiful as dedicating one’s life for a cause.” And just a few hours after writing those words, Monty Dickson was swept away in the tsunami. In fact, the two Americans who died that day, Monty and Taylor Anderson, were teachers in the JET program. Their lives and their cause are part of the fabric of the friendship that we now share. The Dicksons, the Andersons, and the entire extended family of JET alumni have been working to help the communities that both Monty and Taylor lived in and grew to love.
This year, Japan started a new training program for Japanese teachers of English language, who come to train in the USA. Japan has also started JET memorial new high school student exchange programs this year. 3 Floridian high school students went to Japan with 18 others from other States in August this year.
Today, both the governors of Wakayama prefecture and Florida State agreed to revitalize sister State relations and exchanged a framework cooperation agreement called “Orange partnership”. Among the (four) pillar cooperation, one area covers intellectual exchanges among teachers and/or students at high schools related with STEM education.
Centenary of Sakura gift to US
As Dr. Bense already touched upon, on February 14, 1912, three thousand-twenty cherry trees of 12 different varieties were shipped from Yokohama on board the S. S. Awa Maru, bound for Seattle.
Upon arrival in Seattle, these trees were transferred to insulated freight cars and shipped to Washington D.C., arriving there on March 26, 1912. The very next day, First Lady Taft and the wife of the Japanese Ambassador planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin.
Next spring 2012 will be the 100th anniversary of the cherry trees gift to the United States. Our Embassy in Washington DC and Consulates in the United States, in collaboration with U.S. institutions and associations will celebrate the centenary.
Next spring, we are going to have one centenary celebration in Pensacola too! da. Participants from University of West Florida including Honda Sensei and helpful hands of Pensacola will co-organize events including transplanting another hundred cherry trees in Pensacola, and other cultural exchanges. We may have similar cultural events to cerebrate centenary of Sakura gift in southern Florida.
Last but not least, in 2012 the Japanese Consulate in Miami will be marking its 20th year of operations since it first opened its chancery in Miami. We have promoted exchange of many cultural events here in major cities in Florida since then. With help of Floridians, we will further promote cultural events, sister State/City relations between Japan and Florida.
I thank for your kind attention.