REMARKS AS PREPARED
August 4, 2018
Konbanwa! Good evening and thank you for that kind introduction. I am thrilled to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of our beloved Portland Japanese Garden.
I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Board of Trustees, and thank the staff, volunteers, and supporters who’ve made these past 55 years possible.
Tonight, it is also my honor to welcome His Excellency Shinsuke Sugiyama, Ambassador of Japan.
Ambassador Sugiyama, we sincerely appreciate your visit to Oregon. I hope you’ve had the chance to explore Portland and enjoy our many restaurants, coffee shops, and award winning wines and beers.
While you’re here, I also encourage you to visit our eclectic shopping districts nestled throughout Portland’s neighborhoods. All of your purchases in Oregon are tax free!
In addition to the beautiful and internationally renowned Japanese Garden, I also hope you can venture out to Forest Park or the Historic Columbia River Gorge to enjoy some of Oregon’s stunning natural landscapes.
Oregon and Japan have a special relationship. One that’s based on mutual respect, cultural appreciation, and strong partnerships. We look forward to working with you and deepening the connections we share.
One meaningful way to do so is through cultural exchanges, which was the impetus behind the founding of the Japanese garden in 1963.
Now, 55 years later, the garden has grown and has earned the acclaim of being one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. Over the years, thousands of school children, families, and visitors from all over the world have come to the gardens. The garden gives visitors a first hand appreciation for the beauty, harmony, and tranquility of Japanese design and time-honored traditions.
With the opening of the new cultural center, more Oregonians will have the opportunity to experience Japan’s unique traditions and history.
We have a tradition of building bridges. We are proud to have the Japanese American Society of Oregon, one of the oldest of its kind in the U.S.
Earlier this spring, I also visited Mt. Tabor Middle School where they offer a Japanese immersion program. I was absolutely amazed to see classrooms of Portland students speaking near-fluent Japanese.
In Salem, Willamette University has partnered with Tokyo International University of America for over 40 years. This close partnership has brought thousands of Japanese students and faculty to its campus in Salem, and sent thousands more Willamette students and faculty to teach and learn in Japan.
Oregon and Japan have much to offer each other. We are communities linked with shared cultural values and economic goals. Without a doubt, Japan is one of our most important trading partners.
Products from Oregon farms and companies can be found on shelves in stores throughout Japan. Last year Oregon exports to Japan increased, while Japanese imports to Oregon increased as well.
Oregon also shares a vibrant tourism connection to Japan. In fact, Japan is the top inbound overseas tourism market to Oregon. Some 67,000 visitors from Japan contributed more than $92 million to our state’s economy last year alone.
I hope that these ties between our state and Japan continue to blossom, and that our relationships grow stronger. When we focus on developing personal relationships and cultivating mutual respect for and understanding of each other’s cultures, our economies will thrive together.
Thank you. Have a wonderful evening, and Ambassador, we extend a warm welcome, “From Oregon, with Love.”