By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Japanese Ambassador to Mexico Yasushi Takase hosted a diplomatic reception at his residence on Wednesday, Dec. 5, to mark his country’s last national day commemorating the birthday of Emperor Akihito.
Akihito, who will turn 85 on Dec. 23 and has served as Japan’s head of state for 30 years, is due to step down as emperor at the end of April 2019, when his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend the throne.
During the reception, Takase spoke about how Japan, despite numerous grave natural disasters, has managed to maintain an era of peace under Akihito, which he said is an example of the Japanese people’s strength and ability to continue to progress in the face of adversities.
“His Majesty, the emperor, has always strived to stand side-by-side with the Japanese people, attentive to their needs and united with them in thought,” Takase said.
The ambassador also noted that it has been a full 130 years since Japan and Mexico signed a Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation in 1888, when then-Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Foreign Matías Romero and then-Japanese Foreign Minister Munemitsu Mutsu.
“As you know, that treaty was the first that Japan signed with a non-Asian country on equal terms, and it marked the birth of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” he said.
“Since that time, Mexico has become a very appreciated partner of Japan.”
Takase said that, over the years, Japan and Mexico have, as true friends, have cooperated in numerous fields, from culture and science to economics and commercial exchange.
“Despite current global conditions, this year Japan and Mexico have deepened their collaboration as partners that share common values such as freddom, democracy and respect of the state of law,” Takase said.
The ambassador noted that in 2018, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono paid two consecutive visits to Mexico, “a gesture that shows the high esteem he has for this great country.”
On the economic front, Takase said that Mexico and Japan have both taken a leadership role in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), due to be implemented at the end of December.
“I am certain that the horizon for prosperity will be opened up for both our people even further due to that agreement, as well as for those of all the signatories of the Pacific Basin,” he said.
Takase likewise said that Japanese private-sector firms continue to expand their presence in Mexico, a clear show of confidence in the country’s future.
Last year, combined two-way trade between Japan and Mexico more than $22 billion, and accumulated Japanese investment here tops $12 billion.
Takase closed by wishing newly instated Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) success for his six-year term, adding that his hopes this political transition will mark that start of a new stage in the bilateral friendship.
Takase recalled that, in 2019, Japan will assume the presidency of the G-20 group of the world’s wealthiest nations, and in 2020, it will host the XXXII Olympic Summer Games.
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.
The emperor, who has spent much of his nearly three decades on the throne trying to soothe the wounds left by World War II, will step down on April 2019.
The Imperial Household of Japan is the oldest now.existing lineage in the world, dating more than 2,000 years ago, since the foundation of the first Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C., according to Japan’s oldest history book, Nihonshoki.