On January 8, 2013 Colorado’s extensive ties with Japan were reflected in the crowd that attended the sold-out program at Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel on “Why Japan Matters in 2013 for Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region.” The audience ranged from students to professionals in law and engineering, local officials to the Japanese Consulate, people who lived and worked in Japan to those with a strong passion for US-Japan relations. The Japan America Society of Colorado hosted the program, describing it in their newsletter Kakehashi as “one of the most successful events in JASC history.”
The event was supported by the National Association of Japan America Societies (NAJAS) and by a grant from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and featured a stellar line-up of speakers who addressed the many ways that Japan matters for Colorado. Representative Diana DeGette, who was born in Japan and serves the people of Denver in the US House of Representatives, spoke on the “Congressional Perspective on Strengthening US-Japan Ties.” Other speakers included Denver’s Mayor, Michael B. Hancock; Dr. Cindy Yoshiko Shirata of Tsukuba University; Tom Clark of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation; and Paul Washington of the Denver Office of Economic Development.
The keynote speaker however, was none other than America’s Ambassador to Japan, Hon. John Roos. The Ambassador’s visit was part of a tour of four cities that will be starting direct flights to Japan within the next year. With Denver’s direct link to Tokyo set to start in the spring, Ambassador Roos’ talk entitled “The US-Japan Partnership: Deep Ties, New Connections, New Opportunities,” proved timely.
According to the Denver Business Journal, Ambassador Roos said that “direct flights from Tokyo to other cities in recent years have had immediate impacts in areas such as tourism, as Japan has an aging and wealthy society with great admiration for the United States and a desire to visit it.” He encouraged leaders and the business community to take advantage of the new flights and take to the pitch for Denver to Japan directly, explaining “personal interaction between Coloradans and the Japanese can only increase the likelihood of business and personal exchanges.”
Any new ties forged will add to an already rich network of ties between Colorado and Japan. In the panel discussion that followed the keynote remarks, NAJAS President Peter Kelley presented data from the East West Center’s Japan Matters from America initiative (www.AsiaMattersforAmerica.org/Japan) to quantify and illustrate the Colorado-Japan relationship: In trade, Japan is Colorado’s 4th largest export destination and its largest buyer of agricultural products in Asia. Colorado is also home to over 22,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans, the 10th largest nikkei population in the US. The Rocky Mountain State has 10 sister city relationships with Japan and a mature sister-state relationship with the equally mountainous Yamanashi prefecture.
It is through these connections and more that Japan Matters for Colorado, and Colorado matters for Japan. Ties reflected in as much by the people in the audience, as the figures on the page.
Click here to download the Special Report compiled for the event: “Japan Matters for America: Japan-Colorado Connections” [PDF]