2 December 2010
On behalf of the Government of Japan, I extend my heartfelt welcome to all of you for joining us here this evening to celebrate the 77th birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. His Majesty the Emperor will be 77 years old on the 23rd of December this year.
This celebration has further significance since this year marks the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Kingdom of Tonga. Our two countries have developed cordial and friendly relations over these past 40 years as symbolised by the friendly relationship between the Royal family of Tonga and the Imperial family of Japan. Our relations have also extended into the field of politics, economic cooperation, culture sharing, and so forth. This evening, let me briefly review our relations for the year 2010.
As most of you might be aware of, in October, construction works for the project for upgrading and refurbishment of Vaiola Hospital (phase II) began. I am sure that the renewed hospital will contribute to the promotion of well-being of the people in the Kingdom. This year, we also saw the arrival of the new inter-islands ferry, MV ‘Otuanga'ofa. I hope that MV ‘Otuanga'ofa will serve to improve the transportation for the economy and people of Tonga.
In the area of culture, the Embassy of Japan had hosted several events this year; two music concerts, a Japanese language contest, and Soroban, Japanese abacus contests for teachers and students.
The music concerts held this year introduced to the Tongan public the Japanese traditional instruments, namely the Wadaiko or Taiko drum, and the string instruments known as the Koto and Shamisen. Japanese musicians showcasing some of these instruments were also fortunate enough to showcase and entertain His Majesty.
The Japanese language contest held this year bought together students of the Japanese language, and the winner of this competition had the opportunity to travel to Japan for a two week Japanese language program.
In the past two months, the Embassy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Women's Affairs and Culture, held soroban contests for primary school students as well as for teachers of the soroban education. These contests have already been held in the outer islands of Tonga, which included Vava'u, Ha'apai, and ‘Eua - with the final contests to be held here in Tongatapu, early next year.
This year, the newly established Tonga Japan Alumni Association, with approximately 30 members so far, was launched.
This association mainly consists of those who have been to Japan with any forms of scholarships including Japanese government Scholarship, and anyone else who had attended educational institutions in Japan. This Alumni Association was established with the hopes of further promoting the close and friendly relations existing between the peoples of our two countries.
This year also saw two Tongan citizens presented with a medal of decoration from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. His Majesty the Emperor is always keen to assist the fostering of friendly relations and better understanding among people on an international scale. And earlier this year, in April, His Majesty the Emperor conferred upon Mrs. ‘Una Tupou, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays in recognition of her contribution to Soroban education here in Tonga. Mrs. Tupou was the first Tongan citizen to be presented with a Japanese decoration. The second medal of decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun - Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, was presented to Mr. Paula Bloomfield on November 24th for his contribution to the promotion of Japanese language education here in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Now, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the historic election conducted peacefully and smoothly on November 25th - featuring a more democratic system of electing Members of Parliament. I am very glad that some of the Honourable members of Parliament, duly elected at the election, are here with us this evening. I remain hopeful, and would like to extend my best wishes to the new government to be formulated in due course. I am looking forward to working together with the new government in the close and cordial relations as with the former government.
In my capacity as the first resident Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga, it is a great honour and pleasure to play a vital role in furthering the ties between our two countries. I sincerely hope that Japan and the Kingdom of Tonga will continue to strengthen existing cordial and friendly relations; therefore, we were very happy and grateful to hear the announcement by the Honourable Prime Minister during the commissioning ceremony for the M.V. ‘Otuanga'ofa on October 28th - that the Government of Tonga is to establish an Embassy in Japan.
Now I would like to propose a toast, for the prosperity and the welfare of His Majesty, King George Tupou the Fifth and to the people of the Kingdom of Tonga. May the friendly and cordial relations between our two countries continue to grow.
To His Majesty the King and people of Tonga!
Issued by the: Embassy of Japan, Nuku'alofa, 2010. (Photo: Talanoa Langi)