The relationship between Barbados and Japan came under the microscope on Wednesday night as officials from both countries gathered in Bridgetown for the annual birthday reception of the Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito.
Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sandra Husbands told the gathering of diplomats, Government Opposition representatives and other specially invited guests that Barbados and Japan had established diplomatic relations 51 years ago. Husbands said she was pleased that the relationship between Bridgetown and Tokyo continued to bear fruit.
“Over the years, the Barbados-Japan relationship has been strengthened by cooperation in a vast array of areas including education, climate change, renewable energy, the arts, sports, technology, agriculture and disaster management,” said Husbands.
“The establishment of a resident Japanese diplomatic presence in Barbados from the beginning of 2016 has served not only as a strong signal of the friendship which our two countries share, but also of our shared desire and practical intention to enhance our bilateral relationship,” she added.
Pointing out that both countries faced similar challenges in terms of natural disasters, Husbands said they also shared similar interests in the areas of energy security, conservation and climate change mitigation.
“As we continue to work at both the bilateral and multilateral levels to strengthen our co-operation regarding these important issues and to bring international attention to the special vulnerabilities facing Small Island Developing States, I believe it augurs well for our future relations,” she added.
During the night of celebrations, which was attended by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley and other high-level officials, guests shared in food and beverages from Barbadian and Japanese culture as music played in the background.
Ambassador of Japan to Barbados Teruhiko Shinada said relations between Japan and Barbados had been “cordial and very successful” over the years.
“Upon my assignment two years ago as the first resident Ambassador of Japan to Barbados, I had the honour to be instructed by the Emperor himself to dedicate myself to strengthening friendly ties between our two countries,” said Shinada, adding that he has been doing just that with his team.
Recalling some of the history the two countries shared, Shinada gave the assurance that even after the end of the current Emperor’s reign, Japan and Barbados “would already be on the path toward even more fruitful engagement”.
This year’s event will be the last National Day Reception to be held in December.
The 84-year-old Emperor, who turns 85 on December 23, has decided to abdicate office at the end of April 2019, in light of his age. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend to the throne on May 1, 2019, as the 126th Emperor of the unbroken Imperial line of Japan.