Japan celebrates emperor’s 64th birthday, highlights Brunei-Japan relations

The commitment to maintaining and strengthening bilateral ties between Brunei and Japan remains steadfast as both countries reach 40 years of diplomatic relations.

Japanese Ambassador to Brunei Maeda Toru reiterated this commitment during a soiree commemorating the 64th birthday of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito of Japan.

Highlighting the significance of this milestone, Ambassador Toru affirmed that cooperation in various sectors including trade, investment, defence, maritime security, healthcare and people-to-people exchanges, will continue to flourish.

Moreover, 2024 has been designated as the “Japan-Brunei Friendship Year,” during a working lunch in December between His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei and Prime Minister Kishida of Japan, where both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation, fostering a deeper level of engagement between the two nations.

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the Japanese government extended an invitation to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Brunei to visit Japan as an official guest from 7 March.

Ambassador Toru also congratulated His Royal Highness the Crown Prince on his 50th Birthday and wished His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen and Pengiran Anak Isteri Anisha well on their marriage.

“I wish the continued health and happiness of the Royal Family and the people of Brunei.”

“I would also like to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude to His Majesty the Sultan for his warm and kind message as well as to the people of Brunei for their concerns regarding the damage caused by the January 1st Noto Peninsula Earthquake.”

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat
Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

The ambassador continued to express his heartfelt condolences to victims of the earthquake and pray that the people in the affected areas will be able to return to normality as soon as possible following the prompt progress of reconstruction efforts.

He then outlined visits made by Brunei’s high-level ranking officials such as the Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato Erywan who had a meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Kamikawa, the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Finance and Economy Dato Amin Liew with Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Mr. Saito.

He shared that Dato Erywan additionally convened with Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hayashi, a former Foreign Minister of Japan to renew their friendship.

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat
Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

Additionally, Foreign Minister Kamikawa visited Brunei last October for her first bilateral visit as Foreign Minister where she had an audience with His Majesty the Sultan as well as a fruitful discussion with Dato Erywan.

Bruneian officials have also visited Japan namely from the Deputy Minister of Defence Dato Razak in February, the Attorney General Dato Ahmad and the Minister of Health Dato Dr. Isham in October.

“Solid progress has been made in the working level exchanges last year such as the policy dialogue between the senior officials of the two Foreign Ministries in February and the first defence policy dialogue in June,” said Ambassador Toru.

“The last 40 years have seen countless people-to-people exchanges between our two countries in areas including business, tourism, culture, research and education.”

This includes various exchange programmes such as the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP), Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) and Nihongo Partners.

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

“These programmes have greatly contributed to these wide-ranging exchanges. To further accelerate these people-to-people exchanges, the two governments are now finalising the arrangement to extend the visa-free period for ordinary passport holders of the two countries from 14 days to 30 days.”

Furthermore, defence and maritime security cooperation has been steadily deepening between Japan and Brunei over the past five years.

Last February, deputy defence ministers of both nations signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on defence cooperation, which led to the initiation of the Japan-Brunei Defence Policy Dialogue last year.

Just recently two Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships, the JS Shimakaze JS Suzunami made a port call at Muara Port.

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

“Exchanges between the maritime authorities for the two countries have also begun since last year. Additionally, cooperation in international law and maritime laws is successfully continuing.”

In trade and investment, particularly the energy sector, the ambassador noted the great contribution of both countries in over 50 years.

“This lays a solid foundation for our long-lasting partnership. Since Brunei’s independence, Japan has been one of the country’s largest trading partners where 80 per cent of Brunei’s total liquefied natural gas (LNG) export went to Japan in 2022.”

“In recent years, we have also witnessed increased cooperation in energy transition as well as the diversification of Brunei’s economy,” he added.

In December last year, the “Memorandum of Cooperation on the Realisation of Energy Transition” was signed between economic ministers of both nations, setting the stage for enhanced collaboration in the areas of energy, energy transition and climate change.

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

The ambassador said Japan anticipates further cooperation in these areas, characterised by comprehensive and realistic approaches.

He further shared that 18 Japanese companies are currently operating in Brunei contributing to the local government’s efforts for economic diversification including the production of methanol (BMC) and supply of OCTG pipe threading services (VAM).

Meanwhile, in healthcare, Dato Dr Isham visited Japan last October meeting Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Takemi followed by a visit to Osaka University to discuss the opportunities for further medical and healthcare cooperation between both countries.

“It is also a great honour for me to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Brunei and Japan together with our distinguished guests.”

“We owe a lot of the efforts of our predecessors over the past 40 years that allow us to enjoy the benefits of the amicable bilateral relations today. I look forward to working with all of you to further develop friendly relations between our two countries in all areas.”

Image: Iqbal Dato Selamat

Ambassador Toru concluded by expressing his appreciation to the Brunei Government and its people for their consistent kindness and generosity to Japan and its people.

The event was graced by guest of honour, the Minister of Education Datin Seri Setia Dr Hjh Romaizah Haji Mohd Salleh and spouse.

Also in attendance was Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Indera Negara Pengiran Anak Haji Puteh Al-Marhum Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohd Alam.

Guest also had the opportunity to visit booths by Japanese companies operating in Brunei who showcased their achievements and current activities.


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