Greeting from Consul General Tajima

Happy New Year!

I am sure that the residents of the Midwest and their friends and families are welcoming the New Year with a new hope. I sincerely wish everyone a healthy and happy year.
COVID-19, which rapidly spread throughout the world in 2020, is not yet eradicated and continues to pose a considerable impact on our lives. However, Japan made the decision to significantly ease its border measures this past October. Soon after, Japanese, Americans, and many more people who had been waiting a long time became able to travel to Japan like before the pandemic. It is my hope that Japan-Midwest and Japan-U.S. relations further develop through revitalized activities and in-person exchanges this year. 
I myself traveled to all ten states in the Consulate-General’s jurisdiction in the early half of last year and visited many of the states multiple times throughout the year. During my travels, I was impressed to learn that large-scale Japanese festivals in many states resumed for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. I observed many people enjoying Japanese culture and interacting with different aspects of Japan. As I mentioned in my new year message from last year, through interactions with many people I strongly feel that the people of the Midwest are kind and friendly to Japan and truly value Japan-U.S. relations. I would like to express my gratitude and respect to all those who make daily contributions to stronger Japan-Midwest and Japan-U.S. relations. 
The Annual Joint Meeting of the Midwest U.S.-Japan and Japan-Midwest U.S. Associations, which successfully took place in Chicago last September, will be held in Tokyo this September. Furthermore, this year marks the 50th anniversary since Osaka and Chicago became Sister Cities in 1973. The Consulate-General’s jurisdiction hosts more than 70 sister state and sister city relationships and many of them will reach a milestone this year. I cherish these relations and look forward to seeing further development between Japan and the U.S.
One major goal I have been focused on since beginning my assignment in Chicago is strengthening the relationship among Japanese residents, Japanese Americans, and Americans who are interested in Japan. This year, I am looking forward to continuing to advance this goal and I hope this contributes to building foundations for even stronger Japan-Midwest and Japan-U.S. relations.
Lastly, the most important work for the Consulate-General is providing various services for all to lead their daily lives safe and sound in the Midwest. Please feel free to contact the Consulate-General if you have any issues or concerns. 
The Consulate-General will continue to make maximum efforts to work with you to make 2023 a wonderful new year. I thank you all very much for your cooperation.
TAJIMA Hiroshi
Consul-General of Japan in Chicago