Ambassador Maeda's Remarks at the 63rd Emperor's Birthday Reception


 It is a great pleasure and honour for us to welcome all of you this evening to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. His Majesty's birthday is actually on February 23rd, the same day as the National Day of Brunei Darussalam. His Majesty has now turned 63 years-old. 
 It has been five year 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. Last year, after the COVID-19 situation was improved in Japan, Their Majesties visited Okinawa in October and attended the State Funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September. His Majesty has also been receiving audiences from world leaders, including The Honourable Joseph Biden, President of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia and His Excellency Mr. Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Republic of the Philippines.  
For many years, we have witnessed the deepening ties between the Imperial Family of Japan and the Royal Family of Brunei Darussalam. In 2004, His Majesty the Emperor, who was the Crown Prince at the time, visited Brunei 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. More recently, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna was in Tokyo to pay tribute to the former Prime Minister of Japan the late Mr. Abe Shinzo at the state funeral held last year.  
 Ladies and gentlemen, 
 This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Japan-ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation, and 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. At the senior official level, the Japan-Brunei Policy Dialogue was held this month between Director-General Arima Yutaka, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and Pengiran Datin Norhashimah, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, to discuss wide-ranging issues including bilateral, regional and global cooperation 
People to people exchanges have always been the basis of the friendly relationship between Japan and Brunei. The number of travellers between Japan and Brunei is steadily growing, especially after the relaxation of the border control in Japan and the resumption of the Royal Brunei Airlines' direct flights to Japan last year. Thanks to the strong support of Datin Romaizah, Minister of Education, cooperation in the education sector has been very fruitful. Around 20 Japanese students are currently studying at Bruneian universities, and 18 Bruneian students are at Japanese universities. Presently, 23 Japanese universities have partnerships with Bruneian 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. Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brunei LNG shipment to Japan. Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Matsatejo bin Sokiaw, Deputy Minister at the Department of Energy, Prime Minister’s Office, participated in the ceremony as the guest of honour, together with CEOs and representatives of around 20 energy-related companies from both Japan and Brunei. Dato Matsatejo also met with Minister of Economy and Industry of Japan, Mr Nishimura Yasutoshi. Both sides expressed high appreciation for the half a centurys energy cooperation between Japan and Brunei, and discussed future cooperation on Brunei's energy transition toward carbon neutrality.  
Currently, 18 Japanese companies are operating in Brunei in various sectors, such as chemical and bio industries, construction, transportation, agriculture, foods and so on, in addition to energy. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Majesty's Government and 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. Tonight, seven Japanese companies in Brunei and Singapore are showcasing their activities and products at the end of the hall. I hope our distinguished guests will be interested in visiting their booths later. 
 Distinguished guests, 
 Japan and Brunei are committed to promoting peace and prosperity of 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. The “Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of Japan and the Ministry of Defence of Brunei Darussalam on Defence Cooperation and Exchanges” was signed in Tokyo this month between 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. Last November, a vessel of the Royal Brunei Navy, Darulehsan, visited Japan for the first time to 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 closing, I would like to express once again my heartfelt appreciation to our Guest of Honour, Datin Romaizah and Mr Haji Md Fadzil, for gracing us with your kind presence tonight. We are also very grateful to all our guests for coming tonight to celebrate this occasion with us. I hope you all have a pleasant evening. Thank you.
                                                                                            28 February 2023
                                                                                            MAEDA Toru
                                                                                            Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
                                                                                            of Japan to Brunei Darussalam