Toray Plastics (America) Celebrates the Japan-U.S. Partnership at the Black Ships Festival in Rhode Island

The TPA-sponsored Black Ships Festival Gala was held at Ochre Court at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. Pictured here from left to right are Christopher Roy, President and COO and his wife, Lisa; Matt Brown, Vice President and General Manager of the Lumirror Division and his wife Candice, and Paul McDevitt, Director of Materials & Logistics and his wife Kristine.

In 1854, Rhode Island’s Commodore Matthew C. Perry, United States Navy, negotiated the Treaty of Kanagawa, the first treaty between the United States and Japan, which ended two centuries of Japanese isolationism. Celebrations marking that historic event, called the Black Ships Festival, have been held in Japan for 80 years and in Rhode Island for 39 years. The term “Black Ships,” or “Kurofune” in Japanese, refers to foreign ships, which, with one exception, were excluded from Japan for two hundred years until 1854.

Toray has been honored to participate in the Rhode Island festival for more than 20 years. This year’s celebration was held June 10-12 and featured arts and crafts, taiko drumming, martial arts, and more. The TPA-sponsored Black Ships Gala on June 11, honored the friendship, culture, goodwill, and economic partnership between the two countries. TPA’s Ken Kurokawa, Chairman and CEO, gave the opening remarks. Here are highlights from his speech.

TPA’s Ken Kurokawa, Chairman and CEO

When we first came to Rhode Island, we knew very little about this market.  Today, we are recognized internationally as the technology leader. A large part of our success we attribute directly to our company’s culture and our Japanese-American heritage.

“On the Japanese side, we have the precise planning for perfection and the never-ending commitment to continuous improvement. On the American side, we have that tremendous creativity and challenging spirit that allows us to turn problems into opportunities and opportunities into success!

“At Toray, we believe you will find the best of both worlds, a place where shared cultural values like, honor, integrity, creativity, and good old-fashioned hard work are ingrained into the very fabric of our company and of our people.

“Much like the Black Ships Festival itself, we believe we are a living example of what has made our two countries such tremendous allies for so many years. We believe strongly in the partnership that has come from the friendship between Japan and America and in the end, it is this blend of the “best of both worlds” that is a large part of our success at Toray.”

TPA’s Christopher Roy, President and CEO, and Matt Brown, Vice President and General Manager, Lumirror Division, and their spouses also attended the gala.

The festival concluded at Island Cemetery in Newport with memorial ceremonies, which included the laying of a wreath at Commodore Perry’s tomb, attended by American and Japanese dignitaries and Mr. Kurokawa.

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