Bridging Houston and Japan: Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador of Houston, Yuzuru Nagawa

Japan Asia

In April, Yuzuru Nagawa — former ANA Houston General Manager — was awarded with the titles of Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador of Houston for his contributions to Texas-Japan relations.

In April 2023, Chief Development Officer Andy Icken, on behalf of Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, awarded All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) Houston General Manager Yuzuru Nagawa with the titles of Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador of Houston. These titles are awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the city. They were presented to Nagawa for his role as a bridge between Houston and Japan.

Nagawa has been at the forefront of Texas-Japan relations since 2015. Eight years ago, Nagawa arrived in Houston to serve as ANA’s Houston General Manager tasked with launching the non-stop flight between Houston and Tokyo. Establishing this non-stop flight was a testament to the growth of economic and cultural ties between Houston and Japan. Furthermore, Nagawa saw the launch as the first important milestone in his contributions to Texas-Japan relations.

Nagawa’s contributions to Houston are not limited to his work at ANA. He was also heavily involved in Houston’s local community. One of his main areas of involvement was serving as the Vice President for the Japan-America Society of Houston (JASH). JASH’s mission is to advance the shared interests of Americans and Japanese through encouraging and deepening mutual understanding. The organization’s main activities include facilitating programs in language, education, art, culture, business, and people-to-people exchanges. As a community advocate for JASH, Nagawa facilitated cooperation with Japanese business leaders and championed the annual Japan Festival. Celebrating Nagawa’s contributions, JASH bid him farewell with the presentation of a Texas flag, that was previously flown over the State Capitol in his honor on March 31, 2023.

In addition to serving as the Vice President of JASH, Nagawa served as the Co-President of the Japan Festival and as the Community Liaison for the Japan Business Association of Houston. He also sat on the Hermann Park Conservancy Japanese Garden Advisory Committee.

In an interview with ANA, Nagawa described his activities in Houston stating, “I actively participated in initiatives that fostered connections between Houston and Japan. I believe that my unwavering commitment to bridge this gap resulted in my recognition.”

Now in Japan, Nagawa serves as the Senior Director of Government & Industrial Affairs at ANA’s headquarters. Despite leaving Texas, Nagawa’s ties to Houston remain strong and he intends to continue to find ways to connect the city with Japan. He stated, “As I am “appointed” as Goodwill Ambassador, my goal is to continue to be a bridge for people wanting to visit Japan, as well as I want to contribute to people-to-people connections globally.”

Bettyjane Hoover is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service, studying International Affairs with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.