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