On June 16, 1860, 160 years ago to this day, and a year before the American Civil War broke out, the first Japanese mission to the United States arrived in New York City. They were warmly welcomed by literally hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers as their “samurai parade” moved along Broadway from the Battery to a ceremonial reviewing stand in Union Square.

Our relationship — between the U.S. and Japan — has endured from this amazing beginning throughout our shared history, sometimes mutually beneficial, at other times literally devastating. Together, we have seen a Civil War, the Russo-Japanese War, World War I, the Spanish Flu, World War II, with the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan by the U.S., the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, 9/11, 3/11, and now the global COVID-19 pandemic plus Black Lives Matter and protests in America.

Despite this impressive history together, we increasingly must look to the future, to craft shared initiatives both political and private that can build bridges and empower leaders, for the sake of both of our countries and for the world. Although we must physically isolate ourselves during this pandemic, our world will no longer sustain isolation as a political and economic practice. We are too connected and so much in this together. We must truly commit to working together for the future of everyone, not just nations, and for the future of our world.