Chicago Shimpo
The Accession of the Emperor Naruhito and Arrival of Reiwa Era Celebrated in Chicago


• As Japan entered a new era, beautiful harmony of “Reiwa”, with the accession of the Emperor Naruhito on May 1, a reception to celebrate the new Emperor and a new era was held on the same day at the Japan Information Center, Consulate General of Japan in Chicago. To congratulate the new Emperor’s accession, a representative from Governor J.B. Pritzker; representatives from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Leo Melamedo, Chairman Emeritus of CME Group, Katsunobu Kato, Chairman to the General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party who was visiting in the Midwest; and many other people, who have devoted themselves to make better Japan-US relationship, attended

• In his opening remarks, Consul General Naoki Ito said that he was very pleased to be able to celebrate the new Emperor Naruhito’s accession and the start of the new era with the people who have been contributing to strengthen Japan-Midwest relationship.
• Then CG Ito introduced Chairman Katsunobu Kato, who has held several important roles in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet including Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare.
• According to Ito, Kato accompanied P.M. Abe on his official visit to the U.S. in April, 2015 as his Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. During the visit in Washington D.C., a person welcomed P.M. Abe and took him to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The man was none other than Mr. Leo Melamed,” Ito said.
• Chairman Kato was appointed to the present post, which is one of the top three executive positions in his party, last October. During this trip, he talked with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and was going to meet Governor J.B. Pritzker the following day.
• Ito said, “Chairman Kato’s trip here coincides with changing of the era in Japan showing his visit as instrumental in strengthening of friendship, mutual cooperation, and robust business partnership in the new era. As for my consulate, we’ll endeavor to promote new collaboration between Japan and the Midwest.”

• On behalf of Gov. Pritzker, Margo Markopoulos, Director of Office of Trade & Investment, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said, “There are more Japanese companies located here in Illinois than any other countries, and we look forward to working together to build stronger bonds between Illinois and Japan in this new era and beautiful harmony.” Then she stated Pritzker’s messages, “My administration has committed to furthering our relationship between Illinois and Japan. I hope to see our partnerships strengthen and grow years to come.”

• Jordan Miller, Deputy Director of Strategic Partnerships & Global Affairs in the Office of Mayor Emanuel, brought the Mayor’s message, and Andrea Zopp, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, spoke about the relationship between Chicago and Japan.
• Zopp talked about numerous events that were held last year to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Chicago-Osaka’s sister city relations. She said, “It is my honor to be here to welcome and congratulate Japan and a new era to continue to build a strong relationship going forward with our tremendous friends.”

• Leo Melamedo congratulated the accession of the new Emperor and said, “I must say that all my life comes to Japan.” He is one of about 6,000 Jews who were saved from Nazis by 2,000 transit visas issued by Chiune Sugihara, former Consul General of Japan to Lithuania.
• He spoke about “Nikkei 225 futures, which he brought to Japan in the late 1980s to be listed in the Osaka Securities Exchange. His CME group was the first American mercantile entity bringing such a new idea in the early years. “My ties to Japan are very, very long and very, very dear to me. My great ties to Japan will continue for the rest of my life,” he said. He is a recipient of Emperor’s award “The Order of the Rising Sun、Gold and Silver Star.”

• Chairman Kato explained the name of the new era “Reiwa” saying that the name was a quote from Manyoshu, the oldest collection of Japanese poetry compiled approximately 1200 years ago and had meaning that culture was born and natured to people dwelling closely with each other in beautiful harmony.
• According to Kato, Japanese corporations have established about 730 business locations throughout Illinois and created about 47,000 jobs with good investment environments. He said that he was sure that contributions of Japanese corporations to the regional economy and establishment of close relationship with the state of Illinois would strongly support the Japan-US relations. Then he made a toast for further development of the close relationship between the two countries in the era of Reiwa.

• Chairman Kato gave a special seminar about “Japan’s Economy: Current Situation and Challenges & the Japan-Illinois Partnership” on the same day at the Union League Club of Chicago. An article of the seminar will be printed in the next issue of the Chicago Shimpo.


Attendees make toast for the New Emperor and arrival of Reiwa Era.


From left: Katsunobu Kato, Chairman to the General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party, Andrea Zopp, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, Margo Markopoulos, Leo Melamedo, Chairman Emeritus of CME Group, Director of Office of Trade & Investment, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Consul General Naoki Ito