Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga attended the reception along with Hon. Dr. Saia Piukala, Minister for Health, Hon. Mateni Tapueluel, Minister for Police and Fire Services, H.E Mrs. Sarah Walsh, High Commissioner of New Zealand, H.E Mr. Andrew Ford, High Commissioner of Australia, H.E Mr. Wang Baodong, Ambassador of China to Tonga. Also present at the reception were Supreme and Magistrate Judges, Nobles and Peoples Representatives to the Legislative Assembly, Public and Business Managers, as well as Japan related alumni and associations.
Emperor Akihito is the 125th Emperor who succeeded to the throne on January 7, 1989. H.E Mr. Tetsuya Ishii in his welcoming address said that His Majesty’s Date of Birth, is a day of countrywide celebration for the people of Japan, and he is truly pleased to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday with the people of the Kingdom of Tonga.
The year 2017 marks the 47th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Tonga and Japan, and significant commitments contributing to the prosperity of both nations were highlighted by His Excellency. “The most noteworthy feature is the Cultural and People to People Exchanges,” he said. Lord Tu’ivakano, Speaker of Tonga’s Legislative Assembly visited Japan in September to attend the 47th General Assembly for the Asian Pacific Parliament Union following Hon. Dr. Saia Piukala’s visit in August. More recently, several students from Tonga attended the 2nd High School Students Islands Summit on the World Tsunami Awareness Day hosted by the Okinawa Prefecture, earlier this month. From Japan to Tonga, Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary General of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party led a Parliamentary Delegation in May, emphasizing disaster preparedness.
His Excellency noted Tonga’s New Domestic Wharf which is currently under construction as Japans’ largest scale assistance through the Japanese Grant Aid for Tonga. “I am impressed that everyday more than 100 Tongan are working together with Japanese engineers. Besides the physical improvement to the transport of people and cargo between Nuku’alofa and remote islands, I believe that such collaborative work could be another asset to strengthen our friendship.”
He also congratulated the Government and the people of Tonga, firstly for the peaceful General Election held on November 16 which he was impressed to have witness, and secondly the current Rugby League’s World Cup. “I was overwhelmed and so impressed by the scale of its popularity, which was far beyond my imagination.”
Prime Minister Pohiva in his keynote address conveyed His Majesty King Tupou VI and his Government’s sincere and heartfelt wishes to His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Akihito on his 84th Birthday. “His Majesty’s Government values its cordial relations with Japan which continues to flourish with our mutual respect for each other and the personal ties between the Tongan Royal Family and the Japanese Imperial Household.”
“We have shared successful cooperation in a wide range of areas including trade, sports, marine research, infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, climate change, renewable energy, education and health,” said Prime Minister Pohiva.
He praised the opportunity from Japan for Tongans to continue their academic endeavours where recipients will return with enriched knowledge and expertise to assist with developing His Majesty’s Government. “Tonga continues to participate and support Japan in regional and international fora to address issues of global concern such as the environment, climate change, renewable energy and security,” added Prime Minister Pohiva.
The leader’s addresses were followed by the toasts, to honour His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, and for the prosperity of both the Kingdom of Tonga and Japan.
Over 200 invited guests were served with four kinds of Japanese Sake brought especially for this occasion, and enjoyed the Japanese cuisine prepared in style with a special rice also for this event brought from Hokkaido, Japan.