The Ambassador's Speeches
» Toast to be proposed by H.E. Mr. Yutaka Yoshizawa, Ambassador of Japan on the occasion of Japan’s National Day Reception, on Thursday 3rd December 2009, at the Ambassador’s Residence.
The President of the Republic of Fiji Islands, H.E. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau,
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji Islands, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (vorr-enge) Bainimarama,
Fellow members of the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I convey my warmest greetings to everyone and Ni sa bula, Namaste!
Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate the 76th birthday of his Majesty the Emperor of Japan. In fact, his majesty’s actual date of birth is on 23 December 1933. However, as 23 December is not an ideal day for inviting guests in many parts of the world, we usually celebrate the emperor’s birthday at somewhat earlier date like today.
This has been a special year for Emperor Akihito. Firstly, this year marks the 20th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Just a month and a half ago, on 12th November, various events were held in Japan to celebrate the anniversary of the ceremony of enthronement, which took place on the same day of 20 years ago. Secondly, on 10th april this year, their Majesties the Emperor and Empress celebrated the 50th anniversary of their marriage or their golden wedding anniversary. I hope that all of you here tonight will join me in wishing the Emperor many happy returns, as he soon celebrates his 76th birthday.
This year also marks the birth of the new government in Japan. The democratic party of Japan won a landslide victory at the general election held on 30th august and upset the government of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has been continuously in power, except a brief period in 1993-1994. Since its inception on 16th September, the government led by prime minister, H.E. Dr. Yukio Hatoyama has launched a number of new initiatives, including the announcement of intentions to reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 level by the year 2020.
Earlier this year, in May, Japan hosted the fifth pacific islands leaders meeting or palm 5 in Hokkaido, where the “islanders’ Hokkaido declaration” was adopted. Fiji was represented by minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, then Fiji’s Ambassador to Japan at the meeting. At this summit meeting, Japan announced that it intended to provide 50 billion yen worth of development assistance to pacific island countries in the next three years.
As far as Fiji-Japan relations are concerned, it has been 39 years since the two countries established diplomatic relationship in 1970, immediately after Fiji gained independence. By now, the relationship has achieved remarkable developments. Trade has reached roughly 100 million us dollars both ways. Some 20,000 Japanese tourists visit Fiji every year. Some 60 Jica experts and volunteers are currently in Fiji, working with their Fiji’s counterparts in many areas including primary health, education and waste management. I am glad to note that some of these experts and volunteers are present here tonight with their counterparts.
Also some 70 Fiji’s engineers, medical personnel and government officials participate in Jica training programs every year. 120 Fiji students studied in Japan under the Monbusho scholarship program since 1980. Currently, 27 Fiji students are leaning in Japan under this program, including 5 who have been awarded scholarship this year. I am pleased to note that some alumni of these programs are also present tonight.
More recently, on 24th November this year, fiji’s foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and I signed the diplomatic note to formalize an agreement on Japan’s assistance regarding the second phase of the construction of the information and communication technology center at the University of the South Pacific. The first phase of this
Project will be completed as well as commence providing services by March 2010. When the center starts operating, helped by the Jica’s technical cooperation, it is expected to greatly contribute in the delivery of quality education in information and communication technology disciplines for the whole pacific region.
At this juncture, I wish to propose a toast for the continued development of relations between Fiji and Japan and between Japan and the pacific region, for the good health of all of you who have graced our celebrations by your presence here this evening and for a happy holiday and festive season.
Thank you, Vinaka vakalevu and Dhanyavadh,