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A message from the Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan to southern California's JBA on its 50th Anniversary

Congratulations to JBA of southern California on your 50th anniversary.

I've heard that JBA's 50th Anniversary catch-phrase is "ARIGATO" or "Thank you" in English. On behalf of the Japanese people, I'd like to say "ARIGATO", "Thank you"to all the attendees tonight and all Californians who have warmly supported JBA for half a century.

Also, I would like to express my profound appreciation, "ARIGATO", to all JBA members for fostering a bond between southern California and Japan for 50 years.

Last year when I was appointed Prime Minister, I appealed for "Revitalize Japan". In order to make this idea a reality we adopted the policy of "Opening up Japan". For over 100 years, Japan has achieved two "Openings of Japan"; the first in the Meiji era as the first steps of modernization and the second after the end of the World War II for returning to the international society. I would like to make this year the start of "the third Opening of Japan". My passionate ideal is not limited to just greater exchanges of human resources, nor the liberalization of trade and investment. For a new era of change, I think it is necessary to have a free-thinking-spirit attitude, not beholden to traditional conceptions, when we consider whether or not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation.

Japan and the U.S. have been building our strong bilateral relationship, which is unprecedented in our world. Japan-US relations are extremely valuable in order for a new Opening of Japan to be successful. President Obama and I have agreed that our Japan-US alliance is international "public goods" for the stability and prosperity of not only the Asian Pacific region but also the entire world and that we will deepen and develop the alliance based on the three pillars of security, economy, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. We are tackling how this mutual agreement will concretely take shape.

In southern California JBA routinely stands at the forefront of the postwar Opening of Japan, with unrelenting support for local Japanese industry, educational support including supplementary Japanese language education, cultural exchanges, and furthermore, by contributing to the local community in a myriad of ways. I hope that JBA continues to endeavor to reinforce Japan-US relations and ushers in a new Opening of Japan in a wide range of fields.

While this year marks a momentous 50 years, I hope that this sound partnership between JBA and southern Californians continues forever.