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Japan National Day

1 December 2017

Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki of Japan hosted a reception to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, who will be 84 years old on the 23rd of December.

Addressing guests Ambassador Hiroki said that 2018 will be a milestone year in history, both of South Africa itself and of SA-Japan bilateral relations. The 18th of July 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. That year will also mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Japan’s diplomatic mission to South Africa, in the form of the Consulate in Cape Town. It was established as Japan’s first mission on the African continent.

Speaking about his personal experience, Ambassador Hiroki said, "Every diplomat posted here over those 100 years worked hard to learn a little more about this beautiful country and its people. Following their footsteps, I have found it a joy and an honour to search for the soul of South Africa. I remember my first trip in South Africa, to Umtata and Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the birthplace of Madiba 100 long years ago. I walked where young Madiba walked, and saw the rolling hills and roaming cattle, that must have entertained the mind of Nelson Mandela. Travel like this is a very useful way for us to get to know the country."

Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki at the National Day reception

The Honourable Ms. Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Tourism,
His Grace, Bishop Dr. B.E.R. Lekganyane, the spiritual leader of the Zion Christian Church,
Her Majesty the Queen Mother of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, Dr. Molotlegi,
Dr Frene Ginwala, Former Speaker of the National Assembly,
Members of Royal Families, Members of Parliament and former MPs, former
Ambassadors to Japan, Directors-General,
Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all for attending today’s reception to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. His Majesty will be 84 years old on the 23rd of December.
Next year, year 2018, will be a milestone year in history, both of South Africa itself and of SA-Japan bilateral relations. The 18th of July 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. That year will also mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Japan’s diplomatic mission to South Africa, in the form of the Consulate in Cape Town. It was established as Japan’s first mission on the African continent. Both events give me a lot to think about. I think of those first diplomats posted here, only about 30 years after the enactment of the first democratic constitution of Japan, the Meiji Constitution, and only a generation after Japan decided to open its doors to the world. At that time Japan was struggling with
the challenges of international relations in a new world, filled with colonial powers.
Japan was trying to establish a good working relationship with South Africa. Every diplomat posted here over those 100 years worked hard to learn a little more about this beautiful country and its people. Following their footsteps, I have found it a joy and an honour to search for the soul of South Africa. I remember my first trip in South Africa, to Umtata and Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the birthplace of Madiba 100 long years ago. I walked where young Madiba walked, and saw the rolling hills and roaming cattle, that must have entertained the mind of Nelson Mandela.
Travel like this is a very useful way for us to get to know the country. It makes our connections more personal and more human, than simply studying or engaging from afar. Tourism makes friendships, sometimes lifelong, and contributes to our economic growth. So, I am particularly pleased to welcome the Honourable Tokozile Xasa, the South African Minister of Tourism, as our guest of honour.
Minister Xasa recently visited Japan, where she attended the Japan Tourism
Expo. It is my sincere hope that her experiences there will be fruitful in terms of increasing the two-way flow of South African and Japanese people. This was one of the numerous valuable visits in both directions by government and business leaders.
In other sectors at government level, we also concluded a Memorandum of
Understanding for the mining sector, and held the TICAD ministerial meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, in August this year, followed by a side dialogue between the Japanese and African private sectors, where Dr Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, made opening remarks.
In addition to government level visits, we have also been extremely pleased
with the progress made at the South Africa-Japan University Forum, which saw
participation from 20 South African tertiary institutions and which will offer significant opportunities for research collaboration and for international student exchanges.
This is a good example of how important Japan views the young people of South
Africa. In addition, through the ABE Initiative, or African Business Education Initiative, we have so far provided 103 South Africans with the opportunity to study master's courses at Japanese universities and gain valuable work experience through internships at Japanese corporations. We look forward to the participants in the program making great contributions to the development of Africa. Furthermore, since 1997, 610 South Africans have participated in the JET programme, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, where they teach English to young students at school in Japan. We are already receiving applications for the 5th group of ABE initiative participants and the 22nd group of JET Programme participants. This is clear evidence of a healthy and sustainable cooperation between South Africa and Japan.
It is also with great pride that the Japanese government and the Japanese
community in this country celebrate the 20th anniversary of the presence of JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency in South Africa. JICA’s support for industrial and infrastructure development, and support for the participation of vulnerable groups in broader economic and social life in Southern Africa, is to be commended.
To date, Japan has also provided grassroots grants for over 600 projects, with particular focus on human security for the most marginalised in society, particularly in the health, welfare, education and agricultural sectors. JICA has also been working with T-VET colleges, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges, and currently the first three volunteers from Japan have been placed in these institutions. From next year, a new project is to be launched aiming at the development of quality technicians and artisans, contributing to an increase in quantity and quality employment opportunities in South Africa.
Last but not least, as you might know, Japan will host the Rugby World Cup in
2019. We hope we will see a great many visitors from all over the world. I especially want to make a reunion with all of you present here on the 21st of September 2019 in Yokohama, to watch the game the Springboks and the All Blacks. Then, predicting an assured victory of the Springboks over the All Blacks, my fortune-teller told me that the final of the World Cup Rugby 2019 will be between the Springboks and the Japanese Brave Blossoms.

Embassy of Japan in South Africa

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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May 2018

 
 
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