Remarks by ambassador of Japan on the occasion of 63rd birthday of emperor of Japan

Remarks by ambassador of Japan on the occasion of 63rd birthday of emperor of Japan
“I would like to further enhance the collaboration with the Kingdom in various fields such as economy, culture and tourism,” Ambassador Fumio said. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 February 2023

Remarks by ambassador of Japan on the occasion of 63rd birthday of emperor of Japan

Remarks by ambassador of Japan on the occasion of 63rd birthday of emperor of Japan




Ambassador Iwai Fumio

It is my great honor to celebrate the occasion of the 63rd birthday of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito, emperor of Japan, today, Feb. 23, following the Founding Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Feb. 22. Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Arab News for the opportunity to confirm the long-lasting friendship and highlight the future-oriented cooperation between the Kingdom and Japan on this honorable occasion.

The Kingdom is truly in the midst of its socio-economic transformation, and we are experiencing new changes every day. While witnessing such rapid changes, I realize that some things never change, that is, the deep and friendly ties between the two royal families of the Kingdom and Japan. Receiving favors of this special bond, we continue to work together for the further development of the bilateral relationship, with respect for each other’s changes.

Since last year, mutual visits of high-ranking officials between the two countries have been reactivated with the significant relaxation of border measures against COVID-19 in both countries. In July and September, H.H. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of foreign affairs, visited Japan. On Nov. 8, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan and the Ministry of Investment of the Kingdom jointly held the 6th Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 ministerial meeting in Tokyo, with the attendance of H.E.  Khalid Al-Falih, minister of investment, and H.E. Nishimura Yasutoshi, METI minister. Following this meeting, Nishimura, accompanied by more than 150 Japanese businesspersons, visited the Kingdom in December, where the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Investment Forum was held and 15 new MoUs were signed.

Along with these new developments, particular corporate activities are progressing. Three Japanese companies — Astellas Pharma, Trend Micro Inc. and Sysmex — opened their offices in Riyadh last year. In addition, Daikin Industries, Ltd. inaugurated its first factory in the Kingdom. I hope that these tangible achievements will increase momentum for further investment from Japan to the Kingdom.

In the field of culture, it is remarkable that many Japanese cultural programs such as traditional performing arts (Dento-geino), calligraphy (Shodo), tea ceremony (Sado), and flower arrangement (Kado) were held in this Riyadh season. In addition, the Embassy of Japan hosted two Japanese art exhibitions in 2022 to introduce modern Japanese art. The Japanese Language Proficient Test was conducted for the first time in the Kingdom, in Riyadh and Jeddah respectively. Through these experiences, I feel that Saudi people are increasingly interested in various aspects of Japanese culture, in addition to manga and anime. I would like to welcome this trend and hope that these cultural activities will provide the people in the Kingdom with opportunities to know more about Japan and its culture.

As for my activities as an ambassador, I have been honored to visit all 13 provinces of the Kingdom in the two years since I assumed my duties in 2021. Each destination has a unique nature, history, culture and traditions, and I was deeply fascinated by the diversified natural and cultural resources of the Kingdom. Observing such diversity and regional attractiveness, I strongly believe that these assets will enrich Saudi society to be a driving force for the region.

In 2025, the Kingdom and Japan will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of a diplomatic relationship. Together with it, Saudi Vision 2030 will mark the 10th anniversary of its launch. Based on the strong bond between our two countries, I would like to further enhance the collaboration with the Kingdom in various fields such as economy, culture and tourism toward our celebration in the year.

Last but not least, I wish good health and prosperity for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince and prime minister, and all people of the Kingdom.

  • Iwai Fumio is the Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Lebanese PM arrives in Madinah

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrives in Madinah on Wednesday. (SPA)
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrives in Madinah on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 1 min 7 sec ago

Lebanese PM arrives in Madinah

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrives in Madinah on Wednesday. (SPA)
  • Mikati will pray in the Prophet’s Mosque during his visit

RIYADH: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrived in Madinah on Wednesday.

Mikati will pray in the Prophet’s Mosque and pay his respects to him.

The prime minister was received at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport by the governor of Madinah region Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and other officials.


Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province

Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province
Updated 5 min 20 sec ago

Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province

Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province
  • Fighting has raged between Yemeni forces and the Houthis over the last 10 days in the Harib district, south of Marib, and Merkhah Al-Ulya area, in the southern province of Shabwa
  • The government’s Shabwa Defense Forces said on Tuesday that they had repulsed a Houthi assault in Merkhah Al-Ulya and shot down a militia drone

AL-MUKALLA: Hundreds of Yemenis have been forced from their homes in the central province of Marib as the Houthis continued to attack government troops, according to the UN International Organization for Migration.

Fighting has raged between Yemeni forces and the Houthis over the last 10 days in the Harib district, south of Marib, and Merkhah Al-Ulya area, in the southern province of Shabwa, leaving scores of fighters dead or injured.

Between March 19 and 25, the IOM reported that 235 families (1,410 people) had been displaced in Marib, Hodeidah, and Taiz, while 2,030 families (12,180 people) had been relocated to different Yemeni provinces since January.

A UN-brokered truce that came into force in April last year resulted in a major decrease in hostilities in battlefields around the country, particularly in Marib, as well as a significant fall in internal displacements and civilian deaths.

But recent Houthi strikes against government troops in Harib, and for the first time in a year attacks on loyalists, in Merkhah Al-Ulya, have shattered hopes of a peace pact to end the conflict.

The government’s Shabwa Defense Forces said on Tuesday that they had repulsed a Houthi assault in Merkhah Al-Ulya and shot down a militia drone.

Meanwhile, Yemeni government officials and the Houthis have said that they would begin exchanging hundreds of captives on April 11 in a three-day operation that would be carried out by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Both sides agreed during the last round of prisoner-swap talks, that ended on March 20 in Switzerland, to exchange 887 detainees during the holy month of Ramadan.

Under the deal, the Yemeni government would hand over 706 Houthi prisoners for 181 government ones, including a former defense minister and four journalists condemned to death by the Houthis, and 19 coalition prisoners.

Majed Fadhail, deputy minister of human rights and a member of the government’s delegation, told Arab News that on the first day, an ICRC aircraft would transport Yemeni government prisoners, including Defense Minister Mahmoud Al-Subaihi and the former president’s brother Nasser Mansour Hadi, from the Houthi-held Sanaa airport to Aden, before returning to Sanaa with Houthi prisoners.

On the second day, a plane would take captives of the Arab coalition from Sanaa to Saudi Arabia.

And on the final day, an aircraft would transport further government captives, including the four journalists, to Marib city before returning to Sanaa with Houthi inmates.

Abdulkader Al-Murtada, head of the Houthis’ prisoner exchange committee, said this week that they and the Yemeni government delegation had agreed to create committees that would visit prisons in Sanaa and Marib and that a fresh round of prisoner-swap talks would begin in May.

Al-Murtada added that the process would last three days, and that the ICRC would charter prisoners from Sanaa airport to airports in Aden, Riyadh, and Marib.

Separately, Yemeni officials and rights groups said the Houthis had increased their assault on inhabitants of the old city of Ibb who had participated in a rare anti-militia rally.

Activists on social media shared images of at least seven individuals recently kidnapped by the Houthis for attending the burial of a famous internet activist in Ibb and said that the Houthis were continuing to deploy military personnel and search properties in and around Ibb.

On Thursday, the burial of Hamdi Abdel-Razzaq, popularly known as Al-Mukahal, an influencer kidnapped by the Houthis in October for denouncing corruption, turned into a protest against Yemeni militia in Ibb.


Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns

Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns
Updated 42 min 21 sec ago

Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns

Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns
  • Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamieh said the private sector would fund the $122 million project, which would "create around 2,500 jobs"
  • Civil society groups and some lawmakers have decried opacity in the tender process and a lack of involvement of the Public Procurement Authority

BEIRUT: Civil society organizations and lawmakers in crisis-hit Lebanon have raised concerns over the awarding of a multi-million dollar contract to build and operate a second terminal at Beirut’s international airport.
Cash-strapped Lebanon announced last week that private company Lebanese Air Transport and Irish firm daa International would partner for the revamp.
Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamieh said the private sector would fund the $122 million project, which would “create around 2,500 jobs.”
The firms would operate the terminal for a 25-year period, he added.
But civil society groups and some lawmakers have decried opacity in the tender process and a lack of involvement of the Public Procurement Authority.
“Marginalizing or disregarding” the role of the authority undermines the effectiveness of Lebanon’s 2021 public procurement law, 10 civil society groups said in a statement Tuesday.
Last week the groups, including Transparency International Lebanon, warned in a statement of “serious abuses” in the procurement law’s application which “open the door to corruption and nepotism.”
Jean Ellieh, head of the authority, confirmed to AFP on Wednesday that “the contract did not pass through” the regulatory body as it should have according to the 2021 law.
Some have also questioned how a caretaker government with limited powers could announce such a major infrastructure project, in a country where entrenched political barons are accused of systemic corruption.
Lawmaker Mark Daou argued on Twitter that awarding the contract went beyond the caretaker government’s prerogatives. Other MPs have also raised concerns.
The Court of Audit is expected to rule on the contract’s legality following the outcry.
In late 2019, Lebanon plunged into an economic crisis that the World Bank has dubbed one of the planet’s worst in modern times.
Amid persistent political deadlock, the country has been without a president for almost five months, while the government has operated in a caretaker capacity since May last year.
The economic meltdown has pushed most of the population into poverty while the political elite, widely blamed for the country’s financial collapse, has failed to take action.
A visiting International Monetary Fund delegation said last week that Lebanon was “at a very dangerous moment,” criticizing slow progress on reforms needed to unlock billions in emergency loans.
In a statement, the IMF noted that Lebanon’s 2021 procurement law “should be implemented promptly.”
The new airport terminal, set to cater to low-cost carriers and charter flights, is expected to be able to receive around 3.5 million passengers a year, according to public works minister Hamieh.
Work is expected to start next year, with the terminal set to become operational by March 2027, according to daa International.


Saudi Arabia joins International Coffee Agreement

Saudi Arabia joins International Coffee Agreement
Updated 49 min 52 sec ago

Saudi Arabia joins International Coffee Agreement

Saudi Arabia joins International Coffee Agreement

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Kingdom’s accession to the International Coffee Agreement.

It is an international commodity agreement between coffee producing and consuming countries. It was first signed in 1962 to maintain exporting countries’ quotas and keep coffee prices high and stable in the market, mainly using export quotas to steer the price.

Another objective of the agreement is to explore ways to improve conditions in an over $300 billion-a-year industry that provides a livelihood for millions of people from farmers to baristas across the world.

According to a report by global business analysts Euromonitor International in January 2022, coffee consumption in Saudi Arabia grew by 4 percent per year between 2016 and 2021 and is forecast to increase by a further 5 percent annually up to 2026, reaching an expected consumption of 28,700 tons each year.

In a bid to boost the Kingdom’s coffee production, the Public Investment Fund launched the Saudi Coffee Co. It aims to ramp up production by more than 700 percent within five years.

The firm currently produces 300 tons of coffee a year, but is aiming to hit 2,500 tons.

 

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Staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital heard laughing as 5-year-old died

Staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital heard laughing as 5-year-old died
Updated 29 March 2023

Staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital heard laughing as 5-year-old died

Staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital heard laughing as 5-year-old died
  • Child’s father has filed a formal complaint against the hospital
  • Allegations also include standard of care his son received as patient

LONDON: The parents of 5-year-old Muhammad Ayaan, who passed away on March 15 in Sheffield Children’s Hospital, claim they heard medical staff laughing as their son’s life support machine was turned off.

Ayaan had a history of respiratory difficulties as well as a rare genetic condition that causes developmental delays, The Independent reported on Wednesday. He was admitted to the hospital on March 5 with breathing difficulties and died just over a week later. 

“When the machine was switched off at 2:30 a.m., we had a lot of family members there. There was laughter coming from staff members. We were so upset,” Ayaan’s father Haroon Rashid told The Independent.

“There was no one else on the ward apart from the staff and one other small child behind the curtain from us,” he added.

“Surely the staff knew Ayaan’s machine was about to be turned off. They continued laughing after my relative asked them to stop.

“A child’s life was coming to an end. It was highly insensitive. We are living with our son’s loss, but we are very, very angry about how the staff behaved.”

Ayaan’s mother Fakhra Dibi also described a similar incident when she was told that her son’s condition was deteriorating a few days before his death, The Independent reported.

Dibi claims she was given the news in a ward full of laughing staff, with children and other parents in the background.

“My wife rang me crying after the doctor broke the news,” Rashid said.

“They should have taken her to a private room, not told her like that in front of everyone. It’s hugely insensitive,” he added.

Rashid, a taxi driver and father of four, has filed a formal complaint, which also includes allegations about the standards of care during Ayaan’s time in the hospital as well as a claim that he was contacted for a follow-up appointment for his son 10 days after he died.

The 41-year-old further claims that hospital staff had been “dismissive” to some of the concerns he raised about his son during his care, The Independent reported.

“Every day in the treatment of my son, something went wrong. They didn’t listen to my years of experience in caring for my children,” he said.

“I’m not a doctor, but I know my son’s history. From past experience, I knew what treatment my son needed from the outset, but no one listened to me.”

However, Rashid emphasized the previous treatment that his son received as an outpatient from Sheffield Children’s Hospital had been faultless and that his consultants had supported the family throughout.

Rashid said: “We don’t know how we will live without him now our son is gone.

“We worry about what happened to him. We don’t want this to happen to any other child or any other family.

The hospital has promised a “thorough” investigation into the family’s claims.

Dr. Jeff Perring, medical director at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, told The Independent: “I wish to express my deepest condolences to Ayaan’s family for their loss.

“The death of any child is tragic, and I know that my colleagues who treated, and came to know, Ayaan during his short life will share in expressing these condolences.

“The loss of a child while they are a patient at Sheffield Children’s is something we take very seriously.

“Our colleagues pride themselves on providing the best clinical and pastoral care for all children and young people who need it.

“We have received Rashid’s complaint, which is very detailed and complex.

“There will be a thorough internal investigation of the care and treatment Ayaan received at the hospital between 5 and 13 March, which will cover the concerns raised in Mr. Rashid’s complaint.”