Happy New Year! With the infection surging, I recognize that we are welcoming an unusual new year.

As the ferocity of the virus persists, I take my hat off to all the medical staff and essential workers. I believe that the vaccine, which was developed at record speed in the history of infectious diseases, shines a ray of hope for putting an end to the spread of infection.

Last year, while most of the news was virus-related, there were some bright topics, such as the asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2″ bringing back its sample capsule safely, and the Korean movie “Parasite” winning four Academy Awards while being a foreign language and Asian film. In addition, although Koshien (Japanese high school baseball tournament) and many other sports competitions were canceled, it was also the year we witnessed the “dream and hope” through sports, with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks becoming Japanese champions 4 years in a row, Naomi Osaka winning the U.S. Open, and both the Lakers and Dodgers standing on top. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics are scheduled for this year. I sincerely hope they will be held safely in a manner suitable for the post-corona era, and to be able to see the brave figures of the athletes who were forced to wait a year.

In Japan, the Suga administration is advocating the promotion of “digitalization.” In the post-Corona era, as work systems, lifestyles, and economic activities that are bound by the word “smart” advance, major changes in corporate activities, education, and our homes can be predicted. This may be the first year where adaptation to the new style becomes necessary to keep up with the current trends.

In the US, the Biden administration will take over. While the past year was one of confusion over mask-wearing and riots, disagreements over climate change and industrial policy, we seek from this new administration “multilateral cooperation,” “interracial unity,” and above all, “control of the infection.” There are many pressing issues such as employment, security, budget deficit, and economic stimulus measures, but I look forward to the development of the new administration as well as of US-Japan relations.

In the meantime, JBA will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Today, as Japan ranks first in the amount of direct investment the region and is recognized for its economic contribution, JBA will return to our founding mission of “maintaining and improving the business environment of Japanese companies,” and with the support of various related parties and Japanese American people, will continue to make efforts this year to developmember companies, contribute to the region, and maintain the economic relationship between Japan and the United States.

“Repeat the new year’s dreamless night” (Dakotsu Iida). Although this new year is one without dreams just like the phrase suggests, as my new year’s greeting I offer my prayer that countermeasures against the pandemic will progress, that we’ll be able to enjoy a hatsuyume (“first dream” of the year) fit for the post-Corona era, and that this new year will be one of health, happiness, and hope we can rejoice a normal life.