'2020 is truly memorable for both UAE and Japan'
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with Akihiko Nakajima, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE. - MOFAIC
The bilateral relationship between the UAE and Japan is based on the common path to modernisation. Ambassador Akihiko Nakajima explains the dynamics
It has been a fascinating nine months since I started serving as Ambassador of Japan to the UAE at the beginning of this year. I am constantly impressed by innovative projects and progressive ideas initiated by the UAE top officials, as well as diversity and tolerance represented throughout the community.
One of many examples that I find impressive is that the UAE sets a goal for each year to encourage the entire population to think truly about the country's better future.
As many of you are aware, each year carries a theme in this country and it sends a reminder that building a better society is the responsibility of all and not only of the government. This year's theme, "Tolerance", resonates with a Japanese word "wa" since they both represent the meaning of coexistence and harmony.
Coincidentally, our new era "Reiwa" started in April this year. "Rei" stands for being beautiful and "wa" means harmony. Together, it implies that culture will be nurtured as people bring their heartsb together in a beautiful manner. I see a curious turn of fate here that the same concept is highlighted in the same year in two different countries.
Whatever be the theme, 2020 is going to be a memorable year for both the UAE and Japan, as two international mega events will be held in our countries: Expo 2020 Dubai and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
It is the first time in the history that these two events happen in the same year in a non-Western region, which makes the year even more precious. Moreover, Osaka-Kansai has been selected as a next city to host the World Expo in 2025 after Dubai and I cannot help highlighting the strong connection between the two countries.
It is also worth mentioning that Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) will open a new office in Dubai next year, which will be the first JNTO office in the entire region. I hope its establishment will make it more convenient for the UAE residents to access to necessary information about visiting our country.
In the past nine months, I have always felt that the UAE, under the extraordinary visionary leadership, has trodded deliberately and carefully the path towards modernisation, which every non-Western country has been destined to follow. Japan is no exception, having struggled for more than a hundred years.
Probably, it might be fair to say that the UAE and Japan both have so far succeeded to adopt the Western practice into our lifestyle while carefully preserving our traditional way of doing things. This, I believe, is exceptionally rare, hence valuable, in this globalised world and I am grateful that we have each other for the support.
Needless to say, we face a number of challenges on the way forward. How can we open up our society to the world in a way that foreigners do not feel excluded or unwelcome? How can we adapt ourselves to the globally-standardised way of living in terms of culture, language, and business manners? Looking towards the significant year of 2020, these are the questions Japan is trying to find an answer through preparing to welcome the whole world to our country.
Or even these questions might seem to be misdefined or ill-formatted when we think of the huge, revolutionary, although tacit, social engineering process, which is taking place in a global scale, thanks to the rapid development and evolution of information and communication technologies.
This trend may urge us to reconsider and re-invent fundamental concepts of the modern society, leading us to the new shape of civilisation. By assiduously facing these challenges, with the beacon concept of "Reiwa" or tolerance to the world, I believe the UAE and Japan can cooperate together create a vision for future, thus contribute to creating a truly global community.
To conclude, I would like to touch upon the current relationship between the UAE and Japan. It is widely known that the relation has been centred on the oil and gas business for decades; the UAE is the second largest crude oil suppliers to Japan after Saudi Arabia while Japan is the largest crude oil importer from the UAE.
However, over the past decade, our economic tie has dramatically expanded into a vast variety of sectors such as education, space development, renewable energy, science and technology, tourism, and many others. I sincerely hope that we will continue contributing to each other for the better future.
Akihiko Nakajima, ambassador of Japan to the UAE.
Japan Day 2019 at Zayed University.