On Wednesday, March 30th Congressman Joaquin Castro discussed “The Future of the U.S.-Japan Strategic Partnership” to a crowded lecture room in the McKinney Humanities Building at UTSA’s Main Campus. The event, sponsored by the UTSA East Asia Institute, had the U.S representative discuss the importance of our nation’s relationship with Japan, the ways we can grow our partnership into the 21st century, and a discussion on the congressman’s own role as founding co-chair of the U.S-Japan Caucus and how the caucus hopes to strengthens our ties to Japan and beyond. Special guest Consulate-General of Japan in Houston Tetsuro Amano also spoke on Japan’s relationship with the U.S.

After a brief introduction from President Romo, Castro began his speech by discussing the deep ties San Antonio created with Japan through the Toyota truck manufacturing company and the great economic and community development created in the city by the partnership, which sparked Castro’s initial interest in Japanese business, which led him to serve in the U.S-Japan Caucus. The manufacturing company, which began in 2003 to build a pickup plant on the South Side, has been a massive economic boost for the city.

Castro then described the U.S relationship with Japan as “our most trusted and special ally in the pacific region.” Placing  the importance of the relationship in context, Castro described the politics and conflicts going on currently around the world, and the importance of diplomatic ties.

The congressman then divided his lecture into 3 important topics: Security Legislation, Energy and Economic development.

Discussing security legislation, Castro conveyed that while Japan has been largely a pacifist nation, changes in security legislation were important to the growing diplomatic development of the country in relation to the world. Despite some protest from Japanese citizens, the legislation is a way to make sure Japan is not jumping into every fight, and make sure they are prepared for whatever comes.

“For any nation the balance should be to never be trigger happy or anxious to jump into war and engage others in a hostile way but, on the other hand to also be a nation that is prepared for anything. That legislation represents a way for Japan to be prepared.”

On energy Castro believes it is important for the U.S to be able to supply the country with energy when needed, and at a cheaper price. In relation to the U.S, is important we do what we can to supply energy to allies like Japan, and help create a situation in which our allies are in a place to stand up when countries violate other countries and sovereign borders.

Castro described the shaky economic development between the U.S Japan’s as in early history but, through mutual investment in both countries, and as in each other’s top three of economic relations in the world,  our bond is strong and important bond. Ending Castro urges those studying or engaged in the U.S-Japan relationship to continue and build on it and take it to new heights.

“That relationship is only going to grow in importance and I think to continue to grow in prosperity.”

The congressman’s speech was followed by a brief speech by guest speaker Tetsuro Amano, Consulate-General of Japain in Houston, on the his experience as the new representative in Houston, his enjoyment of the relationship between Japan and San Antonio, and the continued importance of good relations between the two countries.

Each speaker was gave a short Q&A session after the speech, and both were presented with gifts by UTSA’s East Asian Institute.

Photos provided by UTSA’s East Asian Institute

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