Not long ago, a young Japanese tourist, upon arriving at DFW airport, discovered that he had lost his credit cards and his cash. Truly a stranger in a strange land and speaking little English, he was directed to a help counter where a call was made on his behalf.
Enter John M. Stich (pronounced “stick”), who carries the title of Honorary Consul of Japan in Dallas. “We reassured him that he was not alone, found him a comfortable place to stay for a few days, and I loaned him a couple hundred dollars for walking-around money,” Stich says. “His cash and cards were replaced, and he resumed his vacation. Given the honest character of the Japanese people, it never occurred to me that he wouldn’t repay me, and of course he did.”
Stich worked for 24 years in Asia, eight of those as Texas Instruments’ chief marketing officer in Japan. He receives no salary for his consular work. He says, “I volunteer for this as payback for the hospitality I was shown by the Japanese.” There are, however, other benefits. He has diplomatic plates and an official ID, and is given a stipend to attend annual update meetings in Washington, D.C.
One doesn’t apply for this sort of job, Stich says. He was recommended by local Japanese nationals and Japanese-Americans, then approved by both the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Department of State. The position is much more than ceremonial. Working out of his home in Far North Dallas, the tall, slender 77-year-old handles routine requests for visas and business information but is also called when a Japanese national dies or is arrested. In addition, he serves as a point of contact between the Japanese government and the rapidly growing number of Japanese companies in the Dallas area (up from 110 in 2010 to 242 in 2019).
A native of Wisconsin, Stich has lived in Dallas since his retirement from Texas Instruments, in 1999. His house is filled with Asian art and antiques. The one jarring note: a wall-size poster for the Green Bay Packers.