WASHINGTON — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) issued the following statement on April 29 following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historic speech to Congress.
“I proudly welcomed Prime Minister Abe to Congress today, in what was a historic event; the first time a prime minister of Japan has spoken before a joint special session of Congress.
“Prime Minister Abe paid tribute to our warriors who lost their lives in World War II and described how moved he was during his visit to the World War II Memorial. In this historic speech, Prime Minister Abe also took time to express how much our own Sen. Daniel K. Inouye ‘symbolized honor and achievements of Japanese Americans.’
“Hawaii has long enjoyed a special and unique relationship with Japan. Our two nations have many areas of common concern, like fighting terrorism and defending human rights around the world. I look forward to continuing this productive dialogue and working together towards those common goals.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) said, “I thank Prime Minister Abe for addressing Congress earlier today and reaffirming the bond between our nations, which has only grown stronger over time. I was especially moved when Prime Minister Abe offered his condolences to the Americans lost during World War II and when Lt. Gen. Lawrence Snowden, who served in Iwo Jima, shook the hand of Shindo Yoshitaka, who is the grandson of a Japanese garrison commander who also served in Iwo Jima.
“Throughout his remarks, Prime Minister Abe reiterated the many benefits of the relationship between Japan and the United States, which include a robust economic partnership and regional security. I stand with Prime Minister Abe in his call for us to strengthen our alliance, but we can only do so in a manner that benefits working and middle-class citizens in both nations.
“The prime minister also spoke of an ambitious plan to raise the opportunities of women in Japan and close the gender wage gap. I commend him on his support of Japanese women and hope to see other injustices corrected. Doing so would send a message to the entire world and confirm that Japan is fully committed to women’s rights.
“It is especially an honor to have Prime Minister Abe speak before us being that this year will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Our nations have formed an important bond since then, and I look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of not just every Japanese and American citizen, but people all across the globe.”
Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii) said prior to the speech, “I am honored to serve on the escort committee for Prime Minister Abe. As a Japanese American, I find this event to be especially significant, as this will be the first time a Japanese prime minister has addressed Congress.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Prime Minister Abe during my bipartisan delegation visit to Asia, where we discussed the important relationship between Hawaii and Japan. With Hawaii slated to play a crucial role in the rebalance to the Pacific, it is critical that our bond with our allies in the region become stronger than ever.
“I look forward to hearing the prime minister speak about what he sees for the future of the U.S.-Japan partnership and what challenges lay ahead for the Asia-Pacific region.”