Durbin Statement Following the Joint Session of Congress with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement after today’s Joint Session of Congress with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.   Before the Joint Session of Congress, Durbin met with his guest, Ross Harano, former Managing Director of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment and former Chair of the Commission of Asian American Affairs for the City of Chicago.  Mr. Harano was born in an “Assembly Center” in California’s Fresno County Fairgrounds during World War II. 

“Today’s Joint Session of Congress is a reminder of the importance of reaffirming our critical international relationships that have been at the forefront of President Biden’s first term.  Japan is an important, long time U.S. ally and strategic partner in Asia, particularly in light of continued challenges with North Korea and China.  Its participation in recent NATO Summits has also been a welcome addition to the broader alliance of democracies,” said Durbin.  “It was also an honor to welcome my guest, Ross Harano, to the U.S. Capitol.  Mr. Harano and his family endured cruel hardships during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II—a painful stain on our nation’s history.  Once he settled in Illinois, Mr. Harano became a leader in the Chicagoland area and an active member of the Asian American community.  He has made our city a more vibrant place and I look forward to our continued discussions to help our Japanese American Illinoisans.”

“It was an honor to be the guest of Senator Durbin to witness the historic address by the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida's, to the Joint Session of Congress.  As a Japanese American, I am well aware of how the close economic and cultural relationships between the two democracies have played an important role in contributing to a better understanding and appreciation of the Japanese American community,” said Harano.

Following the 1942 bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese military forces, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 that forcibly removed Americans of Japanese ancestry from their homes. Approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated into internment camps, called “Assembly Centers” and “Relocation Centers,” without a trial or judicial hearing. 

Photos of the meeting can be found here.

Biography of Ross Harano can be found below:

Ross M. Harano, former Managing Director of the State of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment, has over 40 years of experience in helping private and public organizations in the areas of public policy, management and finance.  He currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of The Hanford Group, LLC, an international consulting consortium.    

Immediately prior to joining the Illinois Trade Office, Mr. Harano served as the President of the World Trade Center Chicago.  Mr. Harano had previously served the Office of the Attorney General of Illinois concurrently as Equal Opportunity Officer, Director of Advisory Councils and Chief of the Crime Victims Division. 

As a businessman, Mr. Harano was the operating partner for two international trading companies and served as the Chief Financial Officer for several international business ventures.  As a banker at the Bank of Chicago on Wilson and Broadway, he served as a vice president for loans. 

Mr. Harano has extensive involvement in public organizational activities and has served as President of the Illinois Ethnic Coalition and the Chicago Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.  He has also served as the Treasurer of the Illinois Humanities Council and the Board President of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Mr. Harano served as the Chair of the Commission of Asian American Affairs for the City of Chicago. 

In 1992, Mr. Harano was the first Asian American to be appointed as an Illinois Elector for the Electoral College.  In 1994, he was the first Asian American to run forstatewide office in Illinois when he was a Democratic candidate for Board Trustee of the University of Illinois.

Mr. Harano has received awards from the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the American Jewish Committee, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and the Illinois Ethnic Coalition.