Your Excellency Ambassador Kazumi Endo,
Honourable Ministers and Members of Parliament, distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen,
Assalaamalaikum, konbanwa and a very good evening to you all
It is indeed a great honour and a distinct privilege for me to be here at this very special occasion.
On behalf of His Excellency President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, and the people of the Maldives, I have the honour to extend heartfelt greetings and sincere best wishes to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito, members of the Imperial Family, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Government and the friendly people of Japan on this auspicious and joyful occasion marking the 84th Birthday of His Majesty Emperor Akihito.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Maldives and Japan may be geographically far apart, but as two Asian archipelagic island countries we share a lot in common. We depend largely on our marine resources for our basic sustenance and we are known as the two biggest tuna fish consumers in the world. We also share a common bond when it comes “Katsuobushi” (dried Bonito, which is known as “hikimas” in Dhivehi).
While interactions between the two countries can be traced back to centuries, formal diplomatic ties began in 1967. Next year we will mark the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Over the years, our relationship has grown from strength to strength.
The historic official visit of President Yameen to Japan in 2014 has totally transformed the relationship.
Today, I am proud to say that our relationship is a rock-solid partnership bound by long-standing ties of trust and mutual respect.
Japan has been a true, tested, and a well-respected friend who has always stood by us during times of need or otherwise. The development assistance we have received from the friendly people of Japan has undoubtedly contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the Maldives.
From human resources development to environmental protection, sustainable fisheries to modern day communications and broadcasting, transportation, electrification and renewable energy, health sector development and the reconstruction assistance in the aftermath of the devastating Asian Tsunami of 2004, Japanese assistance has virtually reached all corners of the Maldivian archipelago.
If you look around Male’ one could clearly witness a glimpse of the generosity of the Japanese people to the Maldives. Five schools, the Social Education Centre, the Artificial Beach, the telecom infrastructure and the Television Maldives as well as the coastal protection and the tetrapod sea wall around Male’ stand as a perfect example how, well planned and well executed overseas development assistance can effectively contribute to the socio-economic development of a developing country. I have no doubt, that the Japanese ODA programme in the Maldives is one of the most effective programmes of such kind. I wouldn’t be wrong if I am to say that every Yen that the Japanese people had donated had reached its intended targets.
The host of tonight’s function is one, and indeed, a very important one, among those that made these achievements possible; Ambassador Endo was the chief economic affairs officer at the Embassy of Japan in Colombo, when a number of these projects were approved and implemented. The special care and attention that he placed on the Maldives continues in a more profound way now as he assumed the esteemed position of the first resident Ambassador of Japan in the Maldives. Thank you Ambassador Endo.
I am confident that the opening of the Japanese resident Embassy in Male’ earlier this year will help strengthen our bonds further. People-to-people contact is continuing to grow. The untiring commitment and hard work of the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) remains priceless.
Private sector cooperation and Japanese investment interest has started to gain traction and for the first time in several years we have started to see a positive growth in Japanese visitors to the Maldives. Today, we are continuing to receive assistance from Japan in significant areas such as communication, environmental protection, capacity building and the development of the fisheries sector. With nearly a half a billion Rufiyaa grant-aid project, soon we will bridge the entire archipelago with the introduction of the Japanese Integrated Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting Network (ISDB-T). This project will not only give the Maldivian people the chance to enjoy the highest quality of digital terrestrial broadcasting, but will also enhance the efforts of the government to bridge the digital divide in the archipelago.
In the international arena, the Maldives and Japan share a common perspective on a number of important international issues of common interest.
Our strong and unwavering commitment to the promotion of fundamental freedoms and principles of democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human security and climate change, had allowed our two countries to speak more in unison.
The Maldives, as the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) and a pioneer in advocating for strong action against climate change, works closely with Japan in coordinating global actions on climate change and sustainable development..
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government, let me take this opportunity to thank the Government and the friendly people of Japan for the most generous support and cooperation extended to the Maldives over the years and most importantly for being a true and a reliable friend. Let me also take this opportunity to reiterate the firm commitment of the Government of Maldives to its relations with Japan.
I wish Maldives-Japan relations every success.
Domo arigatogozaimasu (thank you very much)