Celebrating 25th anniversary of Japan-Brunei diplomatic ties
By P Marilyn

The 25th Anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Brunei diplomatic relations was commemorated yesterday with a luncheon held at Sheraton Utama Hotel in the capital.

The chief guest was Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Acting Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Also attending the luncheon was Mr Katori from Japan, Ambassador for Asean, who is visiting Brunei to attend the commemoration as the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Other distinguished guests included ministers, deputy ministers, and foreign dignitaries.

The event began with the cutting of cake by HRH Princess Hajah Masna and the Ambassador of Japan to Brunei, Mr Hashimoto Itsuo, to commemorate the 25 years of Japan-Brunei diplomatic relations.

This was followed by a speech delivered by Mr Hashimoto Itsuo, where he highlighted the long-standing relationship between Japan and Brunei, in many areas, particularly in the economic and trade arena.

Today, he said the total value of import-export between Japan and Brunei has reached $14.8 billion.

"Japan is the biggest market for Brunei's export, and we, Japan, imports more than 10 per cent of our total LNG consumed in Japan from Brunei. The LNG trade started in 1972 with strong initiative by both countries, based on the Japan-Brunei mutual friendship and economic necessity.

"It has since solidified mutual trust and friendship between our two countries for more than 30 years, constituting a strong backbone of the Japan-Brunei relations. The Methanol project, which is funded 75 per cent by Japan and 25 per cent by Brunei and will begin operations, soon, is another good example of such cooperation.

"As the Ambassador of Japan to Brunei Darussalam and as a Japanese citizen, I wish that such economic relations and our friendly and cooperative relations in total will continue and further develop towards the future," said Ambassador Hashimoto.

The Japan-Brunei relationship is fostering various cooperation in the context of Japan-Asean relationship and Brunei has been playing a significant role in the growth of Asean while Japan has been extending the largest amount of cooperation and assistance to Asean, ever since its establishment in 1967, in the fields of politics, economy, economic cooperation and exchange of people, he added.

Having become ever stronger and more substantial, Asean is now recognised as a strategic partner of Japan, 'sharing the same future vision, thinking together and acting together'.

Therefore, in the multilateral framework of Japan-Asean relations, Japan and Brunei, an important member of Asean, are also maintaining and strengthening their good and cooperative relations, he added.

Ambassador Hashimoto said taking the diversity of respective Asean countries into consideration, the journey towards Asean's goal of establishing a community might be challenging. Likewise, we may also face challenges before the East Asian Community is to be established. Towards this goal, Brunei, being a significant member of Asean, will continuously contribute in the process of development. And Japan will always be ready to render as much cooperation as possible to Brunei and Asean in various fields.

On Brunei's Silver Jubilee of Independence this year, the Ambassador commented that it has been endeavouring to achieve development while maintaining the peace and stability under the illustrious leadership of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

"I deeply admire the efforts and services rendered by the government and people of Brunei."

Ambassador Hashimoto also announced yesterday the Japanese government's decision to offer an extra invitational programme of the same number (25) of Brunei youths to Japan for a friendly visit.

"I am sure that this extra invitation, like many other ongoing invitation programmes offered to Brunei, will further promote friendship among the next generation of our two countries," he added.

Yesterday's luncheon also saw Ambassador Hashimoto presenting awards to two Bruneians and three Japanese for their contribution to further strengthening the Japan-Brunei diplomatic relations. - Borneo Bulletin (3rd July 2009)