Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga attended the farewell reception along with Hon. Lord Chief Justice Owen Paulson, H.E Sarah Walsh, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Tonga, H.E Andrew Ford High Commissioner of Australia to Tonga and Mrs. Ford, H.E Mr. Wang Baodong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Tonga, His Eminence Cardinal Mafi and Reverend Semisi Fonau, President of the Free Church of Tonga. Present also at the reception were Lord Fulivai, Governor of Vava’u, Lord Dalgety, Cabinet Ministers, People’s Representatives to Tonga’s Legislative Assembly, Head of International Agencies in Nuku’alofa, Business Managers of both Public and Private Sectors, and close friends of Ambassador Numata and his wife, Mrs. Yukiko Numata.
Prime Minister Pohiva in his remarsk extended his sincere admiration for all the efforts and commitments by H.E Mr. Yukio Numata in advancing relations between Tonga and Japan. “I have enjoyed your confidence in the many ways that Tonga and Japan can benefit from each other. You have been such a good Ambassador of Japan to our Kingdom and you have demonstrated an appreciation and understanding of our Tongan values and the needs of our people, which makes it all worthwhile.”
The Prime Minister in particular emphasized two most vivid commitments of Ambassador Numata during his tenure which were; the visit of Their Imperial Highnesses, The Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako of Japan visit to Tonga for the Coronation of Their Majesties, King Tupou IV and Queen Nanasipau’u in 2015 and his vision to drive forward the infrastructural and economic development of the Kingdom, by upgrading the Faua domestic wharf. “Both are remarkable and noteworthy achievements and tonight, I have the pleasure of extending the gratitude of the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Tonga – to Your Excellency and the Government of Japan,”
“We thank you for your service, your commitment and your personal love for Tonga which shines through your short time with us. We do hope that you and Madame Numata will cherish the work, the memories and the many friendships that you have made in the Kingdom,” expressed Prime Minister Pohiva before he proposed a toast for the good health and continued success of Ambassador Numata.
In the farewell remarks from Head of Missions in Nuku’alofa, H.E Sarah Walsh warmly extended her admiration and pleasure to have served Tonga along with H.E Mr Yukio Numata and Mrs. Yukiko Numata. “On behalf of the Diplomatic corps, we have sincerely enjoyed spending time with such a collegial, kind, positive and experienced diplomat as yourself. We have appreciated your warmth and openness, your coordination on aid projects and your discussion on issues important to Tonga and the broader Pacific.”
“We wish you both well for the future, thank you for your friendship and thank you to your family for lending you to us over these past few years,” she said.
H.E Mr. Yukio Numata arrived Nuku’alofa in May 2015 with his wife, as the third Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga. During his tenure, both His Excellency and Mrs. Numata were honoured to witnessed significant moments in Tonga’s history including the coronation of Their Majesties King Tupou IV and Queen Nanasipau’u, the visit of Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan, Tupou College’s 150 Anniversary Celebration, the inauguration of His Eminence Cardinal Mafi, the Royal Funeral of her Late Majesty, The Queen Mother Halaevalu Mata’aho and more recently His Majesty King Tupou VI’s 58th birthday celebration in Vava’u.
In his farewell address he extended his heartfelt appreciation for everyone’s cooperation during this term in Tonga. “It truly has been a great pleasure for me and my wife, to have lived and worked here in the Kingdom of Tonga. Our memories are not only filled with experiences from my Embassy’s work but also with ones from my personal life, such as making and eating ‘umu and swimming with the whales.”
“I developed some delightful impressions that have strengthened my warm friendship with you. I am overwhelmed by memories of each person, of challenges that we have overcome and accomplishments that we have shared.”
“I want to thank everyone for your kindness and I wish everyone a success in all future endeavour. I am sure that our warm relationship will continue with my successor, H.E Mr. Tetsuya Ishii,” he said.
Their love to Tongan lifestyle and culture was evident in both His Excellency and Mrs. Numata taking Tongan language classes, and their many various trips to the outer islands including Niuatoputapu islands. Mrs. Numata deepen her interest with Tonga by sharing her skills as a professional pianist while volunteering as a Music Teacher at the Tupou Tertiary Institute.
Mr. Shinji Yoshiura, Resident Representative of JICA Tonga office delivered the closing remarks at the reception and assured that Tonga is left with a vivid remembrance of the cordial friendship with His Excellency and Mrs. Numata. The guests took turns in bitting their farewells while also enjoying various Japanese cuisines prepared and Japanese wines served at the reception, and the surprised performance of the Tongan tau’olunga dance by Ambassador Numata.
Tonga and Japan have shared their cordial diplomatic and friendly relations for 47 years.