January 29, 2016 Vol. 12, No. 1

· Celebrating the New Year with Soba

· Celebrating 50 Years of Medical Collaboration

· Maryland's Lt. Governor Discusses Increased Japan Ties

· Japanese American Week Honors for 4 organizations

· Foreign Minister Kishida 2016 Press Conference Message

· Winner Selected for First Annual Haiku Contest

(Photo: Embassy of Japan)

Celebrating the New Year with Soba

-Embassy of Japan

Have you heard of "toshikoshi soba"? The phrase refers to the Japanese tradition of eating soba (buckwheat noodles) on the New Year's Eve. There are several theories for the meaning and the origin of the practice. One of them is that as soba becomes longer in the process of cooking, eating it serves as a wish for long life.

Soba prepared for guests at a recent Ambassador’s Residence event were made with an 80% soba flour 20% wheat flour mix (it also contains eggs and water). “I think soba made from 100% soba flour is actually not very tasty,” Chef Iizawa said.

The soba flour is first kneaded into dough, rolled flat and cut into noodles. Our Embassy chef mentioned that although rolling the dough until it is the same thickness throughout is very difficult, the most challenging part of making the soba is the mixing of the water and flour. He said if it is not mixed properly then the noodles will simply fall apart when boiled.

Guests were able to watch the Embassy chef prepare the soba from scratch and enjoy the soba in a bowl of cold mentsuyu soup broth garnished with thinly cut nori (seaweed) and wasabi.

(Photo: USJCMSP)

Celebrating 50 Years of Medical Collaboration

-Embassy of Japan

While Dr. Satoshi Omura and Dr. William Campbell received Noble Prizes last year for their work on the drug avermectin, their discovery was in some ways just the beginning: In the years that followed, researchers from Japan and the US collaborated to turn that discovery into a class of treatments that have been used to fight parasitic disease around the world. That collaboration, and many other research projects, has been supported by the United States-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program (USJCMSP).

This week USJCMSP celebrated its 50th Anniversary with ceremonies in the Washington DC area that included remarks from Parliamentary Vice Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Fusae Ota and Ambassador Ken-Ichiro Sasae. Since the program's start in 1965 as an attempt to address infectious disease issues across Asia, USJCMSP-supported research has expanded to address a variety of topics including nutrition.

In her remarks, Vice Minister Ota recognized the program for its contributions and discussed Japan's commitment to "lead and contribute to global health by providing support for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and by taking an active role in the global policy-making process and working toward improving healthcare around the world."

(Photo courtesy
Office of Lt. Governor
Boyd K. Rutherford)

Maryland's Lt. Governor Discusses Increased Japan Ties

-Embassy of Japan

Reflecting on a year in which Japan's relationship with Maryland grew significantly, Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford detailed a number of new programs between Japan and Maryland including drivers license recognition, high speed rail, and cooperation on energy exports in a speech about Maryland's economic conditions.

Representatives from the Embassy's Economic Section joined business representatives and members of the Maryland General Assembly at the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) Winter Conference.

After the event Economic Minister Kunihiko Kawazu remarked that the conference “was a highly precious opportunity for us to learn about the ongoing policy agendas that Marylanders are currently focused on to make Maryland more business-friendly. We look forward to developing the important relationship with Maryland further in the year to come.”

(Photo: Embassy of Japan)

Japanese American Week Honors for 4 Organizations

-Embassy of Japan

“One of the best parts of traveling around this country is meeting Japanese Americans, who always welcome me with open arms. I hope I can welcome you as warmly as Japanese Americans always welcome me. I am extremely proud to present this honor to four very deserving organizations,” Ambassador Ken-Ichiro Sasae stated during the final event of Japanese-American Appreciation Week. For outstanding contributions in promoting the friendship and deep ties between Japan and the U.S., Ambassador Sasae presented the prestigious Foreign Minister’s Commendation to four Japanese-American groups:

Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)

The JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the U.S. In 2011, immediately following the triple disasters in Japan, the JACL established the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund, which raised over $6 million. The JACL has advanced people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the U.S.

Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA)

JAVA has advocated not only for Japanese American veterans but for all veterans and has worked tirelessly to maintain the legacy of Japanese Americans who have served in the US military. Another important part of its mission has been to work hand-in-glove with Japanese military leaders, hosting a number of Japanese Ministers of Defense and giving them tours of the National Japanese American Memorial.

National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF)

The Memorial is a tribute to over 120,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during WW II, as well as the more than 30,000 men and women who volunteered to serve in the US military during WW II. The Foundation continues to educate the public about internment and works to preserve the legacy of those who gave so much to their community and country.

U.S.-Japan Council (USJC)

The US-Japan Council has been at the forefront of promoting deeper ties between Japan and the U.S. The USJC connects government, political, business, and cultural leaders between the two countries. In the aftermath of 3/11, the USJC partnered with a number of organizations to create the TOMODACHI Initiative, which provides educational, cultural and leadership opportunities to Japanese and American students and expands Japan-U.S. friendship.

(Photo: Ministry of
Foreign Affairs)

Foreign Minister Kishida 2016 Press Conference Message

-Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“#2016 will be an important year for the Japanese Diplomacy. We will hold the #G7 presidency for the first time in eight years, hosting the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hiroshima in April. This will be a great opportunity for Japan to play a leading role and at the same time to take a greater responsibility in the international community. Japan will also chair this year’s Japan-China-ROK trilateral summit, which was resumed last year, and will be serving as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council.”

Foreign Minister Kishida addressed reporters earlier this week to outline his aspirations for 2016.

(Photo: JICC)

Winner Selected for First Annual Haiku Contest

-Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan

The Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan D.C., in partnership with the Japan-America Society of Washington D.C., is delighted to announce Heike Stehr of Germany as the grand prize winner of its first Annual Haiku Contest. Held from September 21st through November 21st, the autumn-themed contest attracted 590 haiku submissions from participants living in more than 30 countries.
Stehr’s poignant autumn-themed haiku was selected by an esteemed panel of three internationally-recognized, prizewinning poets whose ties to the international haiku community helped the contest go viral: Roberta Beary, Abigail Friedman, and Jim Kacian.

This annual haiku contest was established as a way for English-speaking poets to express themselves through haiku. The results, beyond being captivatingly beautiful, demonstrated a true flowering of this traditional Japanese art form as it is interpreted by many different cultures.