Ambassador's greeting on the occasion of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan

I would like to congratulate you all upon the reopening of society in Norway from 12 February. I am also glad that I can expect more and more contacts in person and can devote myself to normal diplomatic activities in Norway.

One of the biggest events the Embassy of Japan organizes every year is a reception at the Ambassador’s residence on the occasion of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan in February. This reception has provided opportunities for a larger social gathering with traditional Japanese cuisine.

I would, however, regret to inform you that, like last year, I cancelled the reception this year due to the current circumstances. I hope we will have better circumstances which allow me to invite you to the reception next year. 
Looking back over Japan-Norway relations over the last year:  bilateral cooperation between our two countries has steadily developed in fields such as business, energy, fisheries, science and technology, cultural exchanges and so forth, even though the situation due to COVID-19 has not allowed our normal activities.

Taking an example in the science and technology field, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in collaboration with the Norwegian Space Center (NOSA), successfully launched a sounding rocket from the Andøya Space Center’s Svalbard Rocket Range, aimed at observation of the Arctic Circle, on 4 November 2021.

We had also several events which promoted cultural exchanges between Japan and Norway. The Embassy of Japan held, among other things, a digital Japanese Speech Contest in cooperation with the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen in March; supported a Japanese Culture Day in September held by the University of Bergen at its Japanese garden and  the International Film festival “Film from the South” as well as “Abloom Film festival” in November.

We should not forget that around 110 Norwegian athletes participated in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020 last year and achieved remarkable results. It was noteworthy that some Norwegian athletes made positive contributions to on-line communication with Japanese children in Fukuoka, a host city for Norway. I am also very grateful to H.E. Mr. Abid Raja, the then-Minister of Culture and Equality, for his visit to Japan during the Olympic Games.    
As maritime nations and partners sharing fundamental values including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Japan and Norway also further strengthened cooperation in the multilateral arena last year such as the United Nations, the Arctic Council, the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) and others. 

This cooperation in the international arena also extends to our fight against COVID-19. Japan appreciates Norwegian leadership in the ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council and has provided vaccine-related support, emphasizing the importance of ensuring equitable access to safe, effective and quality-assured vaccines in all countries and regions. For that purpose, Japan co-sponsored the COVAX AMC Summit with Gavi to foster momentum for support for developing countries and announced an additional 800 million US dollars, for a total 1 billion US dollars as a financial contribution to vaccine procurement. Japan has also contributed to the expansion of diagnosis and treatment through donations to the Global Fund.   

On top of that, Japan emphasizes bilateral support for developing countries to supplement its international contributions by providing vaccines in kind and helping establish a cold chain system for delivery to inoculation sites through grant aid.  
Climate and energy are two of the most critical agendas for Japan in the context of bilateral cooperation between Japan and Norway and in international fora. 

Japan has set a goal that its society will be carbon-neutral by 2050. In addition to the “Green Growth Strategy” which was formulated in December 2020, Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio announced in January this year that the Government of Japan plans to formulate a Clean Energy Strategy that shows concrete roadmaps for the use of storage batteries, renewable energy, hydrogen, ammonia and so forth. These are the power sources which Japanese and Norwegian companies have also been cooperating to develop the last few years. I see great potential in their further development and the Embassy of Japan will continue to provide necessary support.   

When it comes to our international cooperation, our Prime Minister Kishida expressed, at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow last November, his commitment to active international cooperation through providing up to 10 billion US dollars in the coming five years – in addition to the contributions the Japanese Government had already announced last year to support the de-carbonization of developing countries.  

As I mentioned above, we have lots of shared challenges and opportunities between Japan and Norway. I am looking forward to cooperating with you to further develop the friendly relations between both our countries. 
Finally, I extend, from the very bottom of my heart, my very best wishes for your continued health and happiness.   

Best regards,
Ambassador of Japan