The Embassy of Japan recently hosted a soiree to celebrate the 63rd Birthday of His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan at the Royal Berkshire Hall, Royal Brunei Polo and Riding Club in Jerudong.
In his speech, Japanese Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Maeda Toru touched on Emperor Naruhito’s active royal engagements.
“It has been five years since Emperor Naruhito was enthroned in May 2019. His Majesty, together with Her Majesty Empress Masako has been active in carrying out their royal engagements.”
He shared that Their Majesties visited Okinawa in October last year after the COVID-19 situation improved in Japan and attended the State Funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September.
Emperor Naruhito has also been receiving audiences from world leaders, including the President of the United States of America, Joseph Biden; President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo and President of the Republic of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos.
Ambassador Maeda then highlighted the deep bilateral ties between Japan and Brunei.
“For many years, we have witnessed the deepening ties between the Imperial Family of Japan and the Royal Family of Brunei Darussalam.”
This includes His Majesty the Emperor’s visit to Brunei in 2004 to attend the wedding ceremony of His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah.
“Years later, in May 2019, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen attended the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty the Emperor,” added the ambassador.
“More recently, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna was in Tokyo to pay tribute to the former Prime Minister of Japan the late Abe Shinzo at the state funeral held last year.”
Ambassador Maeda also acknowledged that this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Japan-ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation.
“Next year we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Brunei Darussalam.”
“This coming December, a Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit will be held in Japan, and Prime Minister Kishida very much looks forward to welcoming His Majesty the Sultan in Japan,” he added.
Additionally, on the senior officer level, the Japan-Brunei Policy Dialogue held recently in February saw discussions on bilateral, regional and global cooperation between Director-General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Arima Yutaka and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Pengiran Norhashimah Pengiran Mohd Hassan.
“People-to-people exchanges have always been the basis of the friendly relationship between Japan and Brunei,” said Ambassador Maeda, noting that the number of travellers between both countries has steadily grown particularly after Japan’s relaxed travel restrictions and the resumption of direct flights.
In areas of education, Japan and Brunei’s cooperation has been fruitful, shared the Ambassador, who thanked Brunei’s Education Minister for her strong support.
Currently, 23 Japanese universities have partnerships with Bruneian universities with 20 Japanese students studying at Bruneian universities while 18 Bruneian students are enrolled at Japanese universities.
“Brunei and Japan have long been enjoying prosperous economic relations. Since Brunei’s independence, Japan has been the largest trading partner of Brunei.”
“The stable export of LNG from Brunei has always been a cornerstone of our partnership (and) last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brunei LNG shipment to Japan,” said Ambassador Maeda.
During the anniversary celebration, Deputy Minister at the Department of Energy of the Prime Minister’s Office, Dato Seri Paduka Haji Matsatejo Sokiaw met with Minister of Economy and Industry of Japan Yasutoshi Nishumura.
“Both sides expressed high appreciation for the half a century’s energy cooperation between Japan and Brunei, and discussed further cooperation on Brunei’s energy transition toward carbon neutrality.”
Ambassador Maeda also shared that in addition to energy, there are currently 18 Japanese companies in various sectors such as chemical, bio industries, construction, transportation, agriculture and food, operating in the sultanate.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Majesty’s Government and the people of Brunei for kindly accommodating and assisting our Japanese community.”
“The Japanese companies are contributing to Brunei’s exports and employment, as well as to its economic diversification. There are also many Japanese companies in Singapore, Malaysia and the other neighbouring countries that are interested and involved in businesses in Brunei.”
During the event, guests were also welcomed to explore products and activities showcased by seven Japanese companies in Brunei and Singapore.
Ambassador Maeda continued to highlight Japan and Brunei’s commitment to promoting peace and prosperity in the region.
“We respect the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Both countries continue to pursue a rules-based international order.”
“With the new National Security Strategy adopted in December last year, Japan will further enhance the collaboration with our allies and like-minded countries,” he added.
To additionally strengthen collaboration between both countries a “Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of Japan and the Ministry of Defence of Brunei Darussalam on Defence Cooperation” was signed in Tokyo recently between the State Minister of Defence Ino Toshiro and the former Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Hj Abdul Razak.
“Based on the Memorandum of Cooperation, defence policy dialogues between the two ministries will be initiated on a regular basis,” said the Ambassador.
“Last November, a vessel of the Royal Brunei Navy, Darulehsan, visited Japan for the first time too and successfully joined the 2022 International Fleet Review. In the coming months, we are also expecting visits of Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force vessels to Brunei.”
In attendance as guest of honour was Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Datin Seri Setia Dr Hajah Romaizah Haji Mohd Salleh and her spouse, Hj Md Fadzil Hj Md Salleh.
The ambassador concluded by giving a heartfelt appreciation to the education minister and her spouse as well as the invited guests.
The reception was then followed by a dinner, networking sessions and a visit to a small exhibition by some locally-based Japanese companies and Japanese-related businesses.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN