Japanese National Day celebrates the birthday of His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, who will be 83 years old on December 23rd. The end of the year is approaching and, looking back on the year 2016, I find it a really challenging year both for Europe and Romania. The entire Europe has been going through a turbulent an unpredictable period caused by the “BREXIT” and the continuing immigration problem. The Japanese Government and its people are carefully watching what is going on and what will happen in Europe. Under such difficult circumstances, Romania’s role is becoming more important than ever. Romania, as a part of driving forces of European integration, and as a linchpin of regional security in the Eastern part of Europe, is well recognized by both EU and NATO member countries.
In this context, it has been my great pleasure that the bilateral relation between Japan and Romania has enjoyed a further consolidation through a rich range of economic and cultural events this year.
Moreover, my greatest pleasure is that the Government of Romania has recently approved in the Cabinet Meeting the M6 Metro Line Project, for which the Government of Japan had extended a Japanese Yen Loan. It was a pleasant surprise that the Minister of Transport Buse announced the government’s decision in his remarks on the Reception of our National Day on December 8th. We hope that the construction of M6 Metro Line connecting Otopeni International Airport to the center of Bucharest will contribute to further development of the city.
In the field of economy, I would like to highlight that 25 Japanese companies have constructed nearly 48 factories, and creating around 40,000 jobs in Romania. Most of them, as far as I understand, have decided to expand their activities this year. I am very glad that the Japanese companies contribute enormously to Romania’s export to the EU countries.
Both Japan and Romania are not free from seismic risks. As is known, Japan has gained a lot of experience in the field of anti-seismic technology. In this context, in October, the Embassy of Japan together with the Technical University of Civil Engineering of Bucharest organized a seminar on Seismic Isolation. The strong interest shown by the Romanian government and Bucharest City Hall indicates future possibility of cooperation between the two countries in this field.
Recently we have witnessed an increasing popularity of Japanese cuisine in Romania. Within one year five new restaurants were opened, reaching a total number of 13 Japanese restaurants in Bucharest. To further promote cultural exchange in the culinary filed and the traditional Japanese cuisine Washoku, I launched “Washoku Dialogue”, through which the Embassy will cooperate with Japanese restaurant owners in Bucharest in order to promote Washoku, which has been registered as Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO in 2013.
I would also like to mention the increasing volume of our cultural exchanges, both in traditional and modern fields in 2016. In April, Saitama Gold theatre, with numbers of aged actors and actresses, opened the Craiova Shakespeare Festival with their spectacular performance, “Richard II”, directed by Mr. Yukio Ninagawa, a world-renowned director. Unfortunately, the director Ninagawa passed away this year. In June, we presented our classic and UNESCO heritage-registered Noh Theatre play by Yamamoto Noh Theatre Company from Osaka. The legendary performance “Adachigahara” was really successful both at Bucharest National Theatre and in Sibiu International Theatre Festival. In November, we organized a series of cultural events named “Japanese Cultural Month”, in Bucharest and in other cities such as Cluj and Timisoara. The events included Sake and Washoku presentation, a concert of traditional musical instruments, food film festivals, an exhibition of Ukiyo-e, and even a Karaoke contest. These events were realized with the great support and involvement of Romanian cultural institutes, cultural associations and universities, and I would like to express my gratitude for all the people who have devoted themselves for the promotion of Japanese culture.
As the year 2017 marks the 100-year-anniversary since Romanian Government dispatched the first diplomatic mission to Japan, I believe that the year 2017 will bring Japan and Romania even much closer to each other. I wish the Nine O’clock readers, Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous, and peaceful new year.