By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Following close on the heels of the announcement late last month of the impending 2019 abdication of Emperor Akihito, Japanese Ambassador to Mexico Yasushi Takase hosted a diplomatic reception at his Lomas de Chapultepec residence on Wednesday, Dec. 6, to mark that monarch’s 84th birthday, which will occur on Dec. 23.
During his welcome speech, Takase noted that in the last 12 months, bilateral relations between Japan and Mexico have flourish in many fields, including trade, investment and cultural exchange.
Takase, who arrived in Mexico last September to assume the role of ambassador, also spoke about the close bonds of binational friendship and cooperation, including the brigade of Japanese rescue workers who helped out in Mexico City following the tragic and devastating Sept. 19 earthquake.
“I want to especially thank the people of Mexico for the warm applauds and support they offered the Japanese team,” he said.
“Thanks to that support, the Japanese delegation was able to complete their mission … The Mexican and Japanese people share a strong spirit of mutual support, which I believe shows that we are friends in adversity and true partners.”
Takase, said that two-way trade and investment have continued to grow, with a combined commercial exchange of about $15 billion annually and more than 1,100 Japanese firms with capital holding in Mexico.
The ambassador also pointed out that as of the start of 2017, there are now two daily direct flights between Tokyo and Mexico City, which has led to increased bilateral tourism exchange.
By the same token, he said, Japan has now opened a consulate office in Léon, Guanajuato, with an eye toward increasing commercial and economic ties in that region.
Takase said that 2017 also marked the 120th anniversary of the first wave of Japanese immigrants to Mexico, who arrived in Chiapas in 1897 to establish coffee plantations.
He said that, since that time, the ever-growing Japanese community in Mexico has played an important role in the nation’s society, economy and culture.
“Japan and Mexico are strategic partners which, together, have a leadership role in the international community,” Takase said.
“During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit last November, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto held another bilateral meeting.”
Takase said that, during that meeting, both leaders agreed to continue efforts to promote the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) , as well as regional peace and prosperity.
“Next year, we will celebrate the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mexico,” he said.
He recalled that the two-way Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, signed in 1888 between then-Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Matías Romero and then-Japanese Foreign Minister Munemitsu Mutsu, constituted Japan’s first “equal” treaty with a foreign nation.
“I am looking forward to strengthening our relations even further in the coming year,” Takase said.
The Japanese emperor’s birthday falls on Dec. 23, but the embassy traditionally celebrates the occasion in early December to accommodate guests who may be leaving town for the Christmas holidays.
Akihito, who is the 125th emperor of his line, assumed the throne in January 1989, and under the constitution of 1946, serves as “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” without powers relating to government.
He has spent much of his nearly three decades on the throne trying to soothe the wounds of left by World War IIs and will step down on April 30, 2019.