Brunei-Japan friendship hailed

|     Motohiko Kato, Ambassador of Japan to Brunei Darussalam     |

TODAY, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Akihito of Japan turns 84. This is an occasion of great celebration for the Japanese people. Emperor Akihito is a symbol of unity of the Japanese people and attaches great importance to his relationship with the people. He consistently moves hand-in-hand with the Japanese people and because of this, he is deeply loved and respected.

For example, when Japan has been hit by traumatic natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the affected areas, to speak with the people, to reassure them and encourage them to overcome the difficulties they were facing.

Emperor Akihito maintains a close friendship with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who has visited Japan more than 10 times and has met with Emperor Akihito on several occasions.

On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne, Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Machiko visited the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Tokyo, Japan to deliver their congratulatory message to His Majesty. I am glad to know that news of this visit was shared with the people of Brunei Darussalam.

Emperor Akihito recently expressed his intention to retire and His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito, will become the new Japanese Emperor on May 1, 2019. Crown Prince Naruhito attended the wedding ceremony of His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, in 2004 and since then has maintained a strong friendship.

These strong bonds that exist between the Japanese Imperial Family and the Brunei Royal Family have provided a strong foundation for the bilateral relations between our two countries.

Motohiko Kato

Japan and Brunei Darussalam have equally strong relationships in political and economic affairs. In early November this year, Taro Kono, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in Vietnam, where he met with Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II.

During the following week, the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, attended the Asean-related Summit Meetings in the Philippines, where he held very friendly and productive discussions with His Majesty.

Brunei Darussalam has been the Asean coordinating country for Japan between 2015 and 2018, and I would like to express my sincere appreciation for their efforts to deepen our relationships. Japan hopes to continue to enhance our cooperation to further contribute to regional stability and prosperity.

I would also like to congratulate Asean for the 50th anniversary of its establishment. Japan has been a dialogue partner for more than 40 years and we have been deepening our friendship and cooperation in various areas with the people of Asean. Japan will continue to pursue the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’ together with Asean, which includes promoting and establishing rule of law, freedom of navigation and market economies.

Japan also has a strong relationship and track-record in defence cooperation with Brunei Darussalam through joint training exercises and exchange visits, including navy visits to the Muara Port.

After the Vientiane Vision, which is a guiding principle for Japan’s defence cooperation with Asean and which was announced at the second Asean-Japan Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic on November 2016, many joint activities have been undertaken. Under the Vientiane Vision and strong bilateral relationship, Japan intends to further enhance defence cooperation with Brunei Darussalam.

Economically, our two countries maintain strong bonds. Brunei Darussalam contributes to Japan’s energy security by providing us with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in a stable manner for a long period of time. We would like to thank Brunei Darussalam for supporting us in this endeavour.

Japanese companies are increasingly investing in Brunei Darussalam, generating employment and contributing to the diversification of the economy of Brunei Darussalam. Examples include Brunei Methanol Company, established in 2006, which produces methanol in Brunei Darussalam to export internationally. VAM Brunei Company is one of the largest foreign direct investment projects in Brunei Darussalam, which launched in 2016 to operate an oil pipeline threading and maintenance plant.

MC Biotech, meanwhile, was launched in 2016. With a strong track record in biotechnology, MC Biotech produces the antioxidant microalgae astaxanthin, a desirable ingredient in health supplements and cosmetic products. In addition, Tobishima Corporation is a major international construction company that has managed the construction of many of Brunei Darussalam’s most high-profile facilities.

A final example of an innovative collaboration is an emerging Hydrogen Project which commences construction of a significant testing facility in Brunei Darussalam in April 2018, and is backed by cutting-edge Japanese technology. Hydrogen is said to be a ‘dream energy’ source because it has zero carbon emissions, and this sort of project provides an important opportunity for Japan and Brunei Darussalam to increase green energy use in the future.

Japan and Brunei Darussalam also collaborate on initiatives to educate and inspire future generations. Youth, sports and educational exchanges between our two countries are very active and underpinned by wonderful people and organisations, such as the Brunei Association of Japan Alumni (BAJA), which includes members who previously studied in Japan.

A few months ago in Brunei Darussalam, BAJA hosted a gathering of the Asean Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) and Yasuo Fukuda, the former prime minister of Japan, attended the conference.

The Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP) celebrated its 44th anniversary this year. This programme selects prominent young people from Asean member countries to undertake a six-week life-enhancing voyage on board a ship to develop meaningful relationships with each other and young people in Japan. More than 1,000 young Bruneians have already participated in this transformative programme.

The Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) promotes exchanges between Asean and the young Japanese people involving different themes. Japan will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, and Japan is working hard to help young Bruneians take part in these great sporting events.

Sport has been one of the major themes for JENESYS in the last few years. Japan has invited young Bruneians who play football, badminton, rugby and judo to participate in programmes in Japan, and early next year, students from the Japanese badminton team will arrive in Brunei Darussalam to play with young Bruneians, further deepening the friendship between our two countries.

The Brunei-Japan Friendship Association (BJFA), including the BJFA Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Chapter and the BJFA Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) Chapter, is one of the very many hard-working organisations that are strengthening Brunei-Japan relations, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all of them.

The Embassy of Japan in Brunei Darussalam will hold ‘Japanese Language and Culture Week 2018’ with the support of many young Bruneians from February 2 – 4, 2018. Visitors to the events will be able to enjoy an array of performances, workshops and products, all relating to Japan.

And we will soon hold a ‘Japanese Language Speech Contest’ on March 3, 2018 that involves the participation of many young Bruneians who are learning the Japanese language. The Japan Foundation and the embassy are also planning to hold a Japanese Film Festivals in the near future, for people to enjoy new and popular comedy, dramas and action movies.

The Embassy of Japan in Brunei Darussalam will continue to do our best to further promote Japan’s wonderful friendship with Brunei Darussalam, supported by the many Bruneians who also love our country. Courtesy of the Embassy of Japan in Brunei Darussalam