Ambassador Roos Visits Eastern, Southern Kyushu

Ambassador and Kagoshima Mayor Mori exchange ideas

Jan 26-28, 2012 - Ambassador John V. Roos made his first visits to Oita, Kagoshima and Miyazaki Prefectures as part of a three-day trip through eastern and southern Kyushu.

He began his trip on Thursday, Jan 26, with a stop at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University in Beppu city, Oita, where he met University President Shun Korenaga and spent an hour talking with students about U.S.-Japan relations and answering their questions.

Ambassador Roos talks with Ritsumeikan APU students, takes their questions via Twitter

Ritsumeikan APU is focused on international affairs, and nearly half the 6,000 students are from overseas. As Oita Governor Katsusada Hirose pointed out when he met with the Ambassador later that day, Oita actually boasts the highest number of exchange students per capita of any prefecture, even ahead of Tokyo. The Ambassador and the Governor also discussed local business conditions, and trade and cultural exchange.

After talking with the Governor, Ambassador Roos met with local businessman and restaurateur Mr. Katsuya Doi and his team of sushi chefs, and even enjoyed local sushi prepared in Mr. Doi's mobile sushi truck. To express gratitude for "Operation Tomodachi," the United States' support of Japan's disaster relief after the March 11 disaster, Mr. Doi drove his truck to Tokyo to donate sushi at the Embassy's July 4th celebration, and to Sasebo for the U.S. Navy Ball. The Ambassador was delighted to have an opportunity to see Mr. Doi again.

Ambassador Roos takes a seat in Mr. Doi's sushi truck

Mr Doi presents Ambassador Roos with a plate with the Character "Tomo" (Friendship)

Ambassador Roos watches Mount Sakurajima erupt in Kagoshima

The Ambassador spent the night at an historic ryokan (Japanese inn) in Yufuin, one of Oita's famous hot springs towns.

The next morning, he traveled to Hakata Station in Fukuoka, and took a tour of the recently opened Hakata City complex with JR Kyushu President Koji Karaike, including a stop at the first Kyushu branch of Krispy Kreme Donuts, a famous American chain. He then took the Kyushu Shinkansen bullet train from Hakata to Kagoshima, becoming the first American Ambassador to ride the train.

During a brief stop in Kagoshima, he had lunch with Kagoshima City Mayor Hiroyuki Mori and with members of the Kagoshima Japan-America Society's executive committee; they discussed the region's tourism potential and ways to increase connections between Kagoshima and sister city Miami, Florida. Through a picture window, the Ambassador also watched Mt. Sakurajima, an active volcano, erupt with ash no less than three times during the meal.

From Kagoshima, the Ambassador traveled to Miyazaki city, where the next day, he toured Japan's largest solar panel factory, Solar Frontier, along with Mr. Shigeya Kato, Chairman of Showa Shell Sekiyu (Solar Frontier's parent company). Solar Frontier recently signed an agreement to supply solar modules for the world's largest CIS solar power plant, the Catalina Solar Project located in the Ambassador's home state of California.

After that, the Ambassador paid a visit to Miyazaki Jingu shrine, a beautiful and historic site dedicated to Japan's legendary first Emperor, Jimmu.

Ambassador Roos greets IVLP alumnus Miho Suzuki of the Mainichi Shimbun at Hakata Station

The Ambassador ended his trip at the Miyazaki Prefectural Library, site of the first American Shelf project in Kyushu. There he met with Miyazaki Governor Shunji Kohno; they discussed the importance of academic exchange, including the Governor's experience studying at Harvard. Following that, he and the Governor enjoyed reading famous American and Japanese picture books, including "The Hungry Little Caterpillar" and "Guri and Gura," to a group of 40 very cute pre-school students.

With this trip, Ambassador Roos has now visited 44 of Japan's 47 prefectures, including every prefecture in Consulate Fukuoka's district.

Ambassador Roos and Miyazaki Governor Kohno read to children

Miyazaki pre-schoolers pose with Ambassador and Ms. Roos and Governor Kohno