Speech by Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs,
on the occasion of the reception at HMS KENT
(26 August 2008, Harumi)
Commander Adrian Pierce, British Ambassador Mr David Warren, and distinguished guests,
My name is Yasutoshi Nishimura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.
First of all, Commander Pierce, and all the crew members of Her Majesty's Ship KENT, I would like to welcome all of you to Japan from bottom of my heart.
I would also like to welcome a new British Ambassador, Mr David Warren, who is an excellent Japanese speaker as everyone here has just noticed.
The foreign country I visited for the first time in my lifetime was the United Kingdom, though it was more than 20 years ago and I was a university student.
Therefore, I'm greatly honored and deeply moved to be invited to this reception on Her Majesty's Ship KENT this evening and have an opportunity to give a short speech on this occasion of the 150th anniversary of Japan-UK diplomatic relations.
Today, 26th of August, is exactly the same day in 150 years ago, when the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed in Edo, which is now called Tokyo.
This treaty has formed diplomatic relations between the both countries and the basis for mutual exchange to begin.
During the modernization period in Meiji era, the Japanese government invited about 1,800 foreign scholars and engineers asking for their expertise.
I would like to stress here that 75% of them were the people from the United Kingdom.
It is no exaggeration to say that Japan couldn't achieve its modernization without the help of the people from your country.
Japanese Naval Forces at that time also learned a lot from the Royal Navy.
Currently, the UK and Japan have enjoyed excellent relations based upon the strong sense of trust, which has been built upon and extended over many years, and we have also been closely cooperating in tackling global challenges.
Commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, in Japan as well as in the UK, various cultural events have been run. The opening reception of "Japan-UK 150" will be held at Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 16th September.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan will also continue to devote its sincere efforts for further deepening mutual understanding and for enhancing cooperation towards the future between Japan and the UK.
Let me conclude my speech by wishing once again our continued friendship between our two countries. Thank you very much.
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