The New Times (Kigali)

28 November 2012

Rwanda: Japanese Emperor's Birthday Celebrated in Rwanda

Rwanda and Japan have enjoyed strong bilateral relations over the last 50 years, the Japanese Ambassador to Rwanda, Kunio Hatanaka has said.

The envoy made the remarks Tuesday evening during an official reception to mark the 79th birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito at the embassy's residence in Nyarutarama suburb of Kigali.

Akihito, the eldest son and the fifth child of Emperor Hirohito, was born on Dec 23, 1933. The Emperor's birthday is a national holiday in Japan.

"This year, Japan and Rwanda celebrated the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. It's my pleasure to say that our two countries have been enjoying friendly relations, especially in the last 18 years," he said.

The envoy noted that due to the strong cordial relations, Japan subsequently established an embassy in Rwanda in 2010.

Hatanaka observed that the birthday of Emperor Akihito falls on 23rd December but since this date coincides with Christmas holidays for many Rwandans, they decided to celebrate it earlier.

On the occasion of the Emperor's birthday, a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace, that is normally off limits to the public.

On this day, the palace gates are opened and the Emperor, accompanied by members of the Imperial Family, appear on the palace's balcony to acknowledge greetings from crowds of festive well-wishers.

"Although the oldest archaeological evidences of the roots of our imperial family are found in artifacts of around third to fourth century in the western part of Japan, ancient Japanese literature records show that our origin dates back to 660BC from the first emperor called Jimnu-Tennou, his Majesty Emperor Akihito is the 125th Emperor," the envoy said.

At the event, Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva, said the celebration of the event provides a platform for the two countries to further strengthen their bilateral relations.

"The Japanese government has showed commitment towards supporting our country's priority areas of development and we are pleased with it," he said.

The Asian giant supports Rwanda in the areas of human resource, agriculture, education, ICT, energy and water supply, rural development and infrastructure development, among others.

Nsengiyumva stated that Rwanda attaches great importance to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and its agenda based on African led solutions and ownership towards its development.

The fifth TICAD high level conference is slated for June 1, 2013.

The birthday ceremony brought together government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and the business community, among others.

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