Japanese Emperor's Birthday Celebration
December 1, 2011
Thank you Consul General for your invitation to say a few words at this important event.
First and foremost, I want to wish Happy Birthday to his Majesty Emperor Akihito!
It is a wonderful honor to be here today to celebrate this occasion with all of you.
Looking out and seeing everyone– it is an obvious reminder of the fact that Oregon and Japan enjoy a very special relationship. I would say that despite the fact that the entire Pacific Ocean lies between us, the relationship between Oregon and Japan is a relationship between neighbors and friends.
We just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Oregon’s sister-statehood with Toyama Prefecture – and we were honored to welcome a delegation from Toyama Prefecture on this occasion.
I just visited Japan in September with an Oregon Delegation of Government officials and Oregon business people. It was a very productive visit that built on existing relationships that we have with Japan, and that Japan has with us.
Japan is Oregon’s fourth largest international trading partner. Oregon exported $1.4 billion in goods to Japan last year, and we imported $3.2 billion in Japanese goods – it is clear that we have a mutually beneficial relationship.
We are home to offices of many successful Japanese businesses, and many successful Oregon businesses have offices in Japan as well.
Many Japanese students come here every year, and many Oregonians go and study abroad in Japan. Many tourists and business people go back and forth as well.
Oregon has a deep connection to Japan, and to its people. There have been many relationships that began years ago with business and tourism, but have grown into true friendships.
Japan has become and will continue to be a great friend and neighbor – and we are truly honored by the friendship of the Japanese people.
It is with this friendship in mind that all of our hearts went out to the people of Japan after the Grand East Japan Earthquake earlier this year. With the sadness of the tragedy in mind, it was – on the other hand – heartening to see the recovery and the resilience of the Japanese people when I visited Tokyo and Osaka in September. Japan will overcome all challenges.
Again, I am honored to be here today, and on behalf of the State of Oregon I want to thank Japan for a great and wonderful friendship.