TOKYO: To celebrate the opening of Arab-Japan Day, an online event was held on April 21 attended by many notable figures including Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide who delivered a speech.
The celebration was divided into two sessions, and the first commenced with welcoming remarks by Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco and Chair of the Council of Arab Ambassadors, the meeting was also chaired by Symantec Kamal, Ambassador of Egypt.
Waleed Siam, Ambassador of Palestine, Dean of Arab Diplomatic Corps also gave a speech in which he thanked Japan for its support to the Palestinian cause.
“Japan attaches great importance to the long-standing friendly relations with the Arab countries. I remember very well the hospitality I received during my visit to Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Jordan 20 some years ago as a Diet member,” he said.
During his speech, Suga renewed his respect to all members committed to fortifying relations between both Japan and Arab nations.
“The peace and stability of the Middle East is vital for the entire international community as the region provides energy resources to the world and is strategically located from a geopolitical perspective,” Suga added.
Amidst his praise, Suga reflected on the difficulties and hardships faced by the Arab region, highlighting the global impacts of COVID-19 and reiterating Japan’s support and readiness to deliver assistance.
Outlining the programs offered by Japan, Suga asserted that he is confident “these programs steadily contribute to the regional stability and development.”
Suga also touched on Japan’s contribution to ensuring delivery and access of vaccines to Arab countries through their financial support of the COVAX Facility.
“I would like to work together with Arab friends to overcome this unprecedented crisis,” Suga said, expressing hope for stronger Japan-Arab relations in the future.
Suga concluded by wishing everyone Ramadan Mubarak and expressing thanks.
Other important figures who spoke at the event include Tokyo Governor KOIKE Yuriko and Regulatory Reform Minister KONO Taro.
Speaking in English, Governor Koike greeted the audience in Arabic before highlighting the primary issues faced today, including COVID-19 and the climate crisis, placing emphasis on the importance of human connection during troubled times to find solutions.
“This Arab-Japan day is true proof of the friendship between us which remains unchanged no matter what hardships we face. May I close by extending my most heartfelt congratulations today,” she said.
“We are very much looking forward to deepening the relationship in spite of COVID-19,” Minister Kono reiterated.
Kono hopes Arab nations and Japan can deepen their relationship in terms of politics and regional security.
As the minister in charge of the vaccine roll out, Kono spoke openly regarding his concern over ‘vaccine nationalism’ spreading around the world, stressing unity among us. Kono also shared hope that Japan and Arab nations can work together in the fight against COVID-19.
Kono shared regret at not being able to visit the region for some time due to the ramifications of the pandemic but intends to once matters improve.
Other speakers that participated during the first session include Saiki Akitaka, President of the Middle East Institute of Japan who delivered the keynote speech.
The second session included a panel discussion followed by a Q&A, moderated by Ayman Kamel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Sasaki Nobuhiko, Chairman and CEO of JETRO, Karube Jun, Chairman of Toyota Tsusho, and Morikawa Keizo, President of Japan Arab Association took part in the panel.