July, 2000
Global Interchange
By George Takei

TORONTO - The theme running through this past month turned out to be interchange; interchange of many kinds - international, cultural, technological and generational. And it had me traveling over half this globe to three nations.

The first country I traveled to was Japan. I am a commissioner on the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, an independent Federal agency that has as its mission, broadly put, to enrich mutual understanding. One of our projects is to utilize the internet by building a site that chronicles the past fifty-year history of the cultural and educational interchange between our two nations. The U.S. working group, of which I am a member, met with our Japanese counterparts to set the basic architecture of the prototype and to outline the content of the site.

Our two-day agenda was fully packed. June was the rainy season in Tokyo and, true to the time of year, it rained both days of our meeting. The air was dense and steamy but, thankfully, air-conditioning made our working time productive. In concert, we set the structure of the project and arrived at mutual agreements on the subjects to be addressed on the site. The bi-national internet interchange project is off to a good start. Our timetable is to have the prototype ready by next spring.

The next day, changing roles, I put on my hat as the Chairman of the Japanese American National Museum for a series of meetings arranged by the Tokyo office of the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Our strategy is to increase tourism by the Japanese to Los Angeles - or people interchange -- by highlighting the Japanese American National Museum. The meetings were with Japanese travel bureaus and agency representatives. Lunch was with about a dozen Japanese travel journalists at a Chinese restaurant. I discovered, however, that my attraction to these people was -- not so much my chairmanship of the Japanese American National Museum -- but as Captain Sulu of Star Trek. One of the journalists even brought his collection of Star Trek books as well as the blueprint of the Starship Enterprise to be autographed. I noted for him that my Captain Sulu uniform from "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" was on display at the Japanese American National Museum. Whatever the occasion, Star Trek is an inevitable part of anything with which I might be associated. As long as my primary mission is served - in this case, increased attendance at the Japanese American National Museum - I am a willing Captain Sulu. Star Trek is a powerful magnet for any good cause.

The next evening, however, was an unadulterated Star Trek event. Russ Haslage of the Excelsior campaign had arranged via the internet for me to meet with a small group of Japanese Star Trek fans that are supporters of the Excelsior campaign for a relaxed evening over sushi. The enthusiasm for a new "Star Trek: Excelsior" television series, it seems, spans this globe.

I discovered that many of the Japanese fans were studying English. So I proposed that we make our evening an opportunity for some linguistic interchange. I promised to speak to them in Japanese if they would try to speak to me in English. It was an engaging evening of lively conversations in broken accents and laughter mixed with mangled syntaxes.

A week in Tokyo seems to fly at warp speed. Before an electrifying performance of Kabuki at the famed Kabuki-za Theater or a day trip to the dazzling new development complexes built on land fill in Yokohama could become fond memories, I found myself on a plane bound for home. I left Tokyo at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon and, after a numbing ten-hour flight, arrived back in Los Angeles at 9 a.m. on that same Saturday morning! I was back before I had even left! Not only was I jet-lagged, I had to live through another Saturday. What unanticipated forms of punishment will warp speed impose?

With only the two Saturdays and a Sunday for recovery back in Los Angeles, I was off to Washington D.C. for a momentous event. Twenty-two Asian American veterans of World War II were to be granted the Medal of Honor, the highest military accolade this country can grant. At the end of the war more than fifty years ago, they had been given the second highest honor, the Silver Star. But because of the prevailing attitudes toward Asian Americans at the time, and especially toward Japanese Americans, the Pentagon was requested to again review the records of the Asian American Silver Star recipients. Twenty-two of them - twenty being Japanese Americans with one Chinese and one Filipino- were found to be worthy of the Medal of Honor. The greatest honor a soldier can receive was to be awarded at a White House ceremony by the President and, on the following day, they were to be inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. I was again to represent the Japanese American National Museum at both events and I had the honor of serving as the master of ceremonies of the celebration reception in the evening. But I also had a personal responsibility to be there as well. I owed an enormous debt to these veterans.

The America that I enjoy today is a vastly different world from that before World War II. The opportunities I enjoy today, where Asian Americans can choose to live wherever we want, receive the education for which we qualify, have the freedom to pursue the careers that we want, are possible in large measure because of the gallantry of these extraordinary men. They fought for a nation that had incarcerated their families behind the barbed wires of internment camps. Their country had failed the ideals to which these young men had pledged their allegiance every day in school -- but they had not. Their incredible faith in those ideals and their extraordinary valor changed, not only the course of the war, but the hearts and minds of a nation. I owe so much to them. The legacy of their generation to mine is enormous. I owe my America to them. My pride as an American is solidly based on the awesome price they paid. To witness the seven surviving veterans, some of who are now frail and unsteady in their steps, receiving the Medal of Honor from the President in the White House was a profoundly moving experience. One of them was my friend, U.S. Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye. I will never forget that moment.

A quick shuttle flight for a meeting in New York and I was again back in Los Angeles to perch briefly at home. But two days later, I was back in what is now becoming my second home -- an airline seat - bound for Toronto, Canada. I am working on the narration of a documentary on Canada's effort to develop a new, low-cost and clean source of energy - nuclear fusion.

A sobering fact is that world energy consumption will at least double by the year 2010 - only ten years off. Canada's campaign to develop fusion energy, or energy produced by the combining of atoms -- as opposed to fission, or the splitting of atoms -- is in concert with a consortium of nations. As a citizen of the U.S., but also as a futurist and an environmentalist, I am excited to be participating, if only as an actor-narrator, on this visionary project. I certainly feel I have a duty to make up for the part I have played in my heavy consumption of energy jetting all over our much-beleaguered planet.



George Takei Statement on Proposition 8

Andrew Koenig

Majel Barrett Roddenberry

George Takei Statement on William Shatner

Marriage Equality Comes to California

You Gotta Have Friends

George Takei on Casting of John Cho as Sulu

Second Wind

George's Statement on the Star Trek Feature Daily Variety Story

The Forty-Year Trek

Why Howard Stern?

January, 2006
The Year of Equus

Tribute to Pat Morita

November, 2005
Equality and Justice For All

Tribute to Jimmy

May, 2005
Catfish, Scholars, and a Geisha Party

April, 2005
Two Surprising Gifts

March, 2005
Measuring TV Viewers

February, 2005
Oscars: the Luckiest of the Best

January, 2005
New York, New York

December, 2004
Tsunami of Compassion

November, 2004
An Emperor, Abe Lincoln, and Four Presidents

October, 2004
Fund-raising with fun raising

September, 2004
Life Interrupted

August, 2004
Celebrating Three Legends

July, 2004
Dense Enrichment

June, 2004
Seattle: The Crucible of Imagination

May, 2004
High Times Down Under

April, 2004
Trekkin' in Japan

March, 2004
An Actor's New York

February, 2004
They Call Her Osama

January, 2004
Caribbean Seatrek

December, 2003
My Arkansas Roots

November, 2003
A Month of Glory and Fury

October, 2003
Jet Lag Reminiscences

September, 2003
Supporters and Whoopee!

August, 2003
Beaming Back in Time

July, 2003
Hawaii, Chicago, Tulsa and Kiribati

June, 2003
A Salute to Liberty

May, 2003
Renewal and Nurturing

April, 2003
The Human Spirit

March, 2003
An Anglophile Angeleno

February, 2003
NASA Must Rise Again

January, 2003
A Shiny Double Bow

December, 2002
Holiday Reflections

November, 2002
"Omiyage" Gifts from Japan

October, 2002
Historic Travels

September, 2002
Oscar-Winning Movies

August, 2002
Summer Visitors

July, 2002
Mama's "Pacific Overtures"

June, 2002
Fumiko Emily Takei, 1912 - 2002

May, 2002
Flight of Angels

April, 2002
Surviving a Texas Storm

March, 2002
Hooray for Hollywood; Boo on Secession

February, 2002
Sacramento Roots

January, 2002
Bearing Witness

December, 2001
A Hundred Million Miracles

November, 2001
Serendipitous London

October, 2001
The Aftermath

September 11, 2001
A Special Message

September, 2001
Summertime at the Hollywood Bowl

August, 2001
Voice Transporter

July, 2001
Two American Monuments

June, 2001
Luck Be a Lady

May, 2001
A Global Banquet Table

April, 2001
Joy and Disappointment

March, 2001
Two Guys Named David

February, 2001
Wisdom from a Volcano

January, 2001
Millennial London

December, 2000
Japan - From the Past to the Cutting Edge

November, 2000
Counting My Blessings

October, 2000
The Mother of an Actor

September, 2000
Hanover Expo 2000

August, 2000
Rockin' in the Northwest

July, 2000
Global Interchange

June, 2000
Sky High Challenge

May, 2000
A Month of Theater

April, 2000
Excelsior Passion

March, 2000
Alien World Right Below

February, 2000
Hawaii Connections

January, 2000
A New Beginning

December, 1999
Millennium Musings

November, 1999
Power of Ingenuity

October, 1999
Back to a Diverse Future

September, 1999
Our Human Linkage

August, 1999
Equatorial Launch to the Stars

July, 1999
Celebration of Diversity

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