Certainly, the coronavirus pandemic has posed significant challenges to communities in Houston and to people all around the globe. That being said, the region’s Japanese community has coped with the situation relatively well, and we feel extremely fortunate that none of our residents have yet become ill with the virus. Even as we have practiced social distancing as individuals, we have remained united as a community by sharing information and supporting one another. The Consulate has also worked closely with the local Japanese community and business associations to share the most up-to-date information, so that our local residents can take every precaution to protect the health of themselves, their families, and the wider public.
Like so many others, we have embraced technology to meet the unique challenges of this moment. Houston’s Japanese community has held multiple public video meetings over ZOOM to discuss the COVID-19 situation and share advice among its members. Local Japanese medical doctors with expertise in infectious diseases have taken part, sharing their vast knowledge and answering people’s questions. This has been an excellent venue for our residents to learn about the virus and to have their concerns addressed directly.
Even as we have taken all these steps as a community, we recognize that we have only coped as well as we have because of the efforts of local leaders and regular citizens throughout the Greater Houston area. We are extremely grateful to the people of Houston for doing their best to slow the spread of the virus while remaining mindful of their foreign residents. In particular, we are so thankful to the doctors and medical staff on the frontlines who have worked tirelessly to save lives and safeguard the health of the public.
Our thoughts and best wishes are very much with local residents in vulnerable populations who have suffered illness or economic hardship as a result of this pandemic. We would like nothing more than to offer a helping hand to ease their struggles. For that reason, the Japan Business Association of Houston has begun making substantial contributions to local COVID-19 response efforts on behalf of its members. The association’s leadership has met separately with Mayor Turner and County Judge Hidalgo to announce two donations of $25,000 each to the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund and the Harris Health COVID-19 Response Fund. In addition to direct monetary contributions, these donations also include significant in-kind contributions in the form of boxed lunches for frontline medical staff from Café Kubo Sushi. As the region’s doctors and nurses are working so hard to keep us all safe, it is truly heartwarming to see that sushi can be a bright spot in some of their most challenging days.
Still, we know there will be significant challenges that lie ahead. We are so fortunate to be able to contribute to the region’s immediate relief efforts and will continue to do our upmost for its long-term recovery. The entire Japanese community hopes that everyone in Houston will remain safe and that the global health situation will improve quickly. We know that together Japan and Houston will emerge from this moment with an even deeper sense of friendship.