Emperor’s Birthday Reception Message

Takashi Hatori’s on the Emperor’s Birthday (Jan. 29, 2020)

His Majesty, Emperor Naruhito, who will turn 60 on February 23rd, ascended to the throne last year on May 1st thereby launching the new era of Reiwa. We hope and pray for His Majesty’s on-going good health and long life as he continues to fulfill his duties.

The Japan-Canada friendship runs deep with many connections. The depth of that friendship was demonstrated last fall by Canada’s National Rugby team. When a typhoon struck just as Japan was hosting Rugby World Cup games were cancelled because of the floods. The people of Japan were deeply thankful for the generosity of spirit displayed by the Canadian team when they voluntarily helped with flood damage clean-up in Kamaishi-City in Iwate Prefecture following the cancellation of their final game. It was an act of kindness that warmed the hearts of people nation- wide and contributed greatly to our friendship.

Among our many bilateral ties, sister city relations are key. Last year I was pleased to visit Hope, Kamloops, Ashcroft, Victoria, Lake Cowichan and Whitehorse. North Vancouver and Chiba celebrated the 40th anniversary of their relationship while Whistler and Karuizawa celebrated their 20th anniversary. I am impressed with the extensive on-going ties many municipalities, organizations, and individuals have with Japan.

In Sunshine Valley (outside Hope) I visited Tashme Museum documenting the internment of Japanese Canadians. Those who were incarcerated overcame hardship, injustice and showed great resilience. Afterward, they made great efforts to be truly Canadian and contribute to Canada. Thankfully, the government and people of Canada acknowledged that past injustice and chose a path of reconciliation through redress.

I greatly appreciate Canada’s commitment to being an inclusive society based on the principles of multiculturalism and mutual respect. Japan can learn much from that effort in moving toward accepting more immigrants in a rapidly changing society.

Sadly last fall we bid farewell to a long-standing Japanese Canadian community elder: Gordon Kadota. Over many decades he was a community leader and an enthusiastic promoter of Japan-Canada relations. His life was an inspiration to all, and I hope a role model for the younger generation to also make their contribution.

Our future lies in our youth. The Government of Japan vigorously promotes two-way youth exchanges through the “Kakehashi” project. This March, Burnaby Moscrop Secondary students will visit Japan. The City of Burnaby kindly welcomed and hosted Japanese students from Sapporo as well as from its sister-city Kushiro.

Looking ahead, 2020 will be a landmark year as Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics and Paralymics for the first time since 1964. The National Stadium is operational and the torch relay will commence on March 26. With less than 6 months to go the countdown is approaching with much excitement.

Now, strengthened by the many existing ties and bonds of goodwill between us, I am optimistic about the future prospects for our bilateral relationship. With your cooperation and support, I want to further enhance our relations and deepen our partnership in all areas.

In closing, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you for attending this evening and joining us in the first birthday celebration of the new Emperor of Japan, His Majesty Emperor Naruhito.

– Takashi Hatori, Consul General of Japan (Vancouver)