Opening remarks by Consul-General Kinefuchi, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, and Tennessee ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe focused on the strong economic ties between Japan and the U.S. in the mid-south, as well as hopes for the further enhancement of the strong partnership between the two countries, and were followed by a toast by Hon. Jim Henry, Deputy Governor of Tennessee.
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed Japanese sake and cuisine such as wagyu beef, newly cropped rice, and sushi. The reception also hosted booths from a variety of Japanese companies which introduced their business activities in this region. Additionally, we shared useful information about travel to Japan and Japanese language education. This year, we had a beautiful Toyota Camry and Nissan Leaf displayed at the reception venue, both of whom have plants in our five-state area.
Immediately before the reception, Consul-General Kinefuchi hosted a conferment ceremony for Mr. Jack O. Bovender, Jr., a Nashvillian and the retired Chairman and CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, who received an Order of the Rising Sun, Golden Rays with Rosette, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Japan-U.S. friendship.
During the conferment ceremony, Consul-General Kinefuchi thanked both Mr. Bovender and his wife Barbara for their "enormous, irreplaceable contributions to not only the Japan-U.S. friendship, but also the economic and cultural enrichment of the entire Middle Tennessee region and beyond." "Japan is full of deepest gratitude for your work and dedication", he added.
Mr. Bovender has contributed to bringing Japanese art installments to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Cheekwood, and has also played an imperative role in creating Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival.