JAPANESE Ambassador Mitsuhiko Okada and his wife Mari Okada, celebrated the 85th birthday of Emperor Akihito of Japan at their residence in St Clair on Wednesday night with a national day reception.
Okada said the event was particularly special, as it was the fourth and last time Japan will be celebrating the Emperor’s birthday, as he is to abdicate on April 30, 2019, and Okada completes his assignment in the Caribbean next month.
He said traditionally the Emperor of Japan, who is the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people, served his country until his passing.
However, recognising that Japan would be best served with the ascension of Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, the elder son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, with his youthful energy, to the throne, Japan will witness the first imperial changing of the guard from one living emperor to another in 200 years.
“It will indeed be a historic event,” said Okada, who also expressed his sincere appreciation for the support given to him and the mission by the people and TT Government during his three-year tenure.
He also thanked his staff at the embassy and the residence for their dedication and support, saying: “Their commitment and enthusiasm has made my work, across the several countries that we cover, a lot more manageable.
“Finally, I wish to thank my wife, Mari, who has so adeptly helped me navigate my tour of duty in the Caribbean with an abundance of grace, love and support. Together we have learned so much during our time here, gathering so many memorable experiences and cultivating so many meaningful friendships and partnerships. Both Mari and I are grateful for the opportunity we have had to enjoy the warmth and energy of TT’s people and culture. We will surely miss sweet TT.”
In response, Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Sen Dennis Moses conveyed birthday greetings to the Emperor on behalf of the Prime Minister, the government and people of TT.
Like Okada, Moses spoke of the various collaborations and meeting between the two nations and said they signalled the further strengthening and widening of the countries' bilateral relationship.
He also addressed climate change, given the disasters that Japan and TT suffered this year. This, he said, "was indeed a challenging year with respect to the occurrence of natural disasters globally, and Japan and TT were not spared. These occurrences are reminders that, as island nations, we are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change.
“In this context, the importance of the implementation of the Paris Agreement is pertinent. On February 22, 2018, TT deposited its instrument of ratification to the Paris Agreement in New York, confirming this country’s intended nationally determined contribution (iNDC) and the formal commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the agreement.
“Accordingly, TT remains fully engaged locally and internationally and, in so doing, acknowledges Japan’s position on the adoption of the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement. In this regard, we are hopeful for a successful conclusion of the ongoing 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Katowice, Poland, which will end on December 14, 2018.”
Moses closed by saying on the basis of both nations’ shared values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law, TT looks forward to continued co-operation with Japan locally, regionally and internationally in the years ahead.