In an interview with George Takei, He was asked about how JJ Abrams sought him out for a bit of advice regarding the upcoming movie.
"You know, what's interesting, JJ Abrams was very concerned about how he was going to cast," said Takei. "He asked me if I'd have breakfast with him. He told me he'd been interviewing many actors for the part. He tried as hard as he could to find an actor of Japanese ancestry, which is what I am, but he found another actor who he thought would be wonderful.
So he wanted to get my reaction to that. "I assured him. I told him about Gene Roddenberry's philosophy. Another interesting story is when I was being interviewed, I asked Gene how he came up with the name of Sulu. He said he wanted the Starship Enterprise to be a metaphor for Earth. So he wanted the people to represent regions of this planet. So Uhura was African and her name was based on a Swahili word. "So he was looking for an Asian name for what would be my character. Now Asian names are very nationality specific; Tanaka is Japanese, Wong is Chinese, Kim is Korean. Now Asia also has a reputation for warfare and colonization. Roddenberry didn't want to bring that into that character. So he was looking at a map of Asia and trying to solve that dilemma. He saw there was a sea called the Sulu. It's in the South China Sea area. He thought, 'the waters of the sea touch all shores.' So that's how he came up with the name Sulu.
"We were very conscious of racial issues," he said. "Gene Roddenberry's philosophy was the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Earth. The strength of the starship was in its diversity coming together, working concert as a team. So we were conscious of differences, but those differences that made the Enterprise that much stronger."