On February 20, at the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, the JBA 57th Anniversary Reception (a congratulatory celebratory event celebrating the 57th Anniversary of JBA) was held. On that day, the Consul General, JBA President, the mayor of Torrance, and many from JBA member companies participated. It was a grand celebration with about 150 people invited guests.

Contributions of JBA over the years
Introducing a strong US-Japan Relationship

In the midst of a rare cold snap in Los Angeles, people began appearing one after another from 5:00PM. Guests registered at the entrance, and moved to the Japanese garden that was next to the reception hall. With drinks in hand, the guests enjoyed chatting with each other until the celebration started. At 6:00PM, Yuko Kaifu, President of Japan House Los Angeles and JBA Executive Vice President and acting as the moderator for the evening gave the call to open the reception. The guests entered the reception hall, with Ms. Kaifu first extended thanks to Consul General Akira Chiba for providing his official residence as the venue for the event, as well as his wife for decorating and providing the flowers herself.

Next, Consul General Chiba stood on stage and gave his greetings in flawless English. “In the rapidly changing world, the Japan and US relationship has been connected by a very strong bond so far. Prime Minister Abe and President Trump have met five times and have had 18 telephone conferences already. Contact between the two countries are approximately at a pace of twice a month, and Japan and the United States are maintaining close relations” he said. Furthermore, “57 years ago, 48 companies joined JBA, and now about 500 companies are participating, among them large, global companies. These JBA companies have played a major role in Southern California’s economy. At the same time, educational support and service activities such as cleaning have also been held to contribute to the local community. I would like to continue working to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United States” he said.

Next, Jan Perry, General Manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department of the City of Los Angeles, gave her greetings. Congratulating the 57th Anniversary of JBA, she said, “I have worked with JBA and thanks to that, I came to understand international trade as well as grow personally. While supporting Japanese businesses, JBA has had a tremendous impact on the economy of California, especially Los Angeles. For example, about 700 Japanese based in Los Angeles have created about 50,000 opportunities for business in Southern California, of which 70% are in Los Angeles County. The specialty of Japanese affiliated companies is creating new employment. We will continue to maintain good relations, and hope to contribute to the economy in California.”

Following that, JBA President Hitoshi Ishikawa said, “Welcome everyone, to the celebration. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Consul General and his wife and participants. While I do not know the exact number, there are approximately 4,500 people with some sort of relation to JBA, including their families. Although it is a small number from the grand total population of Los Angeles, 2/3 out of every year, about 1000 people move to Los Angeles, and in these 57 years, approximately 57,000 people have experienced living in Southern California through JBA.” Laughing about the fact that it took him 4 hours to complete the calculations, Mr. Ishikawa continued, “The important thing is that these Japanese have received tremendous support from the local people, such as the city of Torrance where there is a high concentration of Japanese, the City of Los Angeles with the hometown of Japanese Americans, Little Tokyo, and much more support that I do not know. I sincerely appreciate it.” ;

Learning about the New and Old Japan
Introduction of Japan House

Patrick Furey, Mayor of Torrance, gave his greetings after the screening of a video depicting the history of JBA. He expressed his appreciation of the shared rich history of the Japanese in Torrance, of which about 250 Japanese companies have for so long based Torrance as their headquarters. He also expressed pleasure in receiving the invitation to the celebration and said he expects continued solid cooperation for the next 100 years. Next, as a special guest from Sacramento, Ms. Jean Shiomoto, Director of the California Department of Vehicles, greeted guests and gave a brief introduction to the DMV. Among them, the handbook of the DMV was translated and distributed in Japanese, which will be more convenient for Japanese to more fully understand traffic rules and be tested.

Next, Executive Vice President of JBA and President of Japan House Los Angeles, Yuko Kaifu, introduced the workings of Japan House. The facility was founded following the locations of London and Sao Paulo, with a gallery space and shopping area and restaurant, and will be a leading sightseeing spot in Los Angeles, allowing a great number of people to experience Japan through the five senses.

At the conclusion of Ms. Kaifu’s speech, the Consul General and Mr. Ishikawa stood by wearing happi. Using a hammer and giving a loud cheer, a barrel of sake was breached. As sake was served to guests, Stephen Cheung, Director of the World Trade Center Los Angeles, greeted the crowd with a cup in hand. “Congratulations on the 57th Anniversary. The Japanese American community is very powerful and has produced thousands of jobs and employment. Last year, 87,000 jobs were created, and I believe it will increase more this year. Thank you for your great support over the years. Cheers!”

After the toast, guests moved to the Japanese garden. A variety of Japanese foods, such as Miyazaki beef steak, sushi, soba, and takoyaki was offered, and the guests gathered at the booths, deepening their comradery until closing time.

Yuko Kaifu
Consul General of Japan Akira Chiba
Jan Perry
Hitoshi Ishikawa
Patrick Furey
Jean Shiomoto
Miss Sake Japan
Stephen Cheung