Former Roslyn Hts. instructor guest of Suozzi for Japan prime minister address

Former Roslyn Hts. instructor guest of Suozzi for Japan prime minister address
Rep. Tom Suozzi (NY-03) and Queens resident Geoffrey Shibahara. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Tom Suozzi)

Flushing’s Geoffrey Shibahara began his career as a Japanese language instructor at the Long Island Japanese Culture Center in Roslyn Heights where he was credited with advancing the cultural center.

Shibahara joined Rep. Tom Suozzi (NY-03) as his guest for last Thursday’s address to Congress by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, where he found commonality with the Asian leader who spoke of his time living in Queens as well.

Kishida moved to Queens in the early 1960s after his father was appointed to a post in New York as a government trade official. At 6 years old, he attended Queen’s P.S. 13.

He shared fond memories with Congress from his time spent in Queens, which included American classics of eating hot dogs at Coney Island and cheering for the Mets and Yankees.

“After 60 years, I have a message for the good people of Queens. Thank you for making my family and me feel so welcome. I have never forgotten it,” Kishida said.

Shibahara lives in Flushing but was raised in Nassau County. His career path was inspired by his passion for the Japanese language and culture, which began at the Roslyn Heights center as a Japanese language instructor.

He currently serves as a treasury relationship manager and sales associate at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

When Kishida gave his address to a joint session of Congress last week, he was only the second Japanese prime minister to do so.

“As global threats continue to endanger peace and prosperity, the relationship between the U.S. and Japan is as important as ever. The U.S.-Japan relationship is built on the strength of decades of cooperation and has proven to be a force for good,” Suozzi said. “Prime Minister Kishida gave a warm, funny, visionary speech with a firm commitment to our alliance.”

The prime minister’s address touched on the uncertainty of America’s role in the global world, saying he detected self-doubt among the people about what their future role looks like.

“I want to address those Americans who feel the loneliness and exhaustion of being the country that has upheld the international order,” Kishida said. “The leadership of the United States is indispensable.

“Without U.S. support, how long before the hopes of Ukraine would collapse under the onslaught from Moscow? Without the presence of the United States, how long before the Indo-Pacific would face even harsher realities?”

The prime minister offered support and confidence in the United States, reminding Congress of its history of global impact since World War II. In tandem with America’s ability is Japan’s support, Kishida said, as his nation too supports global security and human rights.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as the United States’ closest friend, tomodachi, the people of Japan are with you, side by side, to assure the survival of liberty,” Kishida said. “Not just for our people, but for all people.”

The address came at a turning point in history, Kishida said, which he attributed to threats against freedom and democracy globally. This includes threats from China, North Korea and Russia.

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