Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor
at the State Banquet in Honor of
His Excellency Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
President of the Republic of Indonesia
and Mrs. Kristiani
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Indonesia and Mrs. Kristiani on the occasion of your State Visit to Japan. It is my great pleasure to be able to spend this evening here with you.
The Empress and I met with Your Excellency and Mrs. Kristiani at the Imperial Palace in June last year when you were visiting Japan together. At that time I heard from Your Excellency about your experiences concerning the major earthquake that occurred off the coast of Sumatra and the Indian Ocean tsunami that followed it. I deeply sympathize with Your Excellency for the hardship and distress you must have experienced in the face of that unprecedented disaster. Furthermore this year, an earthquake in Central Java and another earthquake off the southwest coast of Java island followed by tsunami resulted in a large number of victims and significant damages. I heard that among the devastated areas was Yogyakarta, a city that we visited 15 years ago, where Prambanan Temple, which was established in the 9th century, was damaged. Japan is a country that has also suffered from natural disasters since ancient times. The Ise Bay Typhoon forty-seven years ago left more than 5,000 people dead or missing, while, eleven years ago, more than 6,400 lives were lost in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Having learned from the lessons of these past experiences, Japan has made great efforts to minimize the damage caused by natural disaster. I believe it is extremely important for the people of the world to recognize the horror of natural disasters and to cooperate across national boundaries to cope with them. I sincerely hope that under the guidance of Your Excellency, the people of your country will overcome the ordeal of repeated natural disasters and take strong strides along the path of reconstruction.
I have heard that Your Excellency, being the first president in the history of your country to be elected by a direct election, has been striving for reform in various areas since assuming the post of presidency. Particularly, I hear, Your Excellency aims for stable development of the society through tackling such tasks as the enhancement of social welfare. I would like to express my deep respect for these efforts made by Your Excellency.
The first time that the Empress and I set foot on Indonesian soil was in 1962 when we went there on an official visit representing Emperor Showa. We then visited your country again in 1991, 29 years later, on the occasion of our first overseas visit since my accession to the throne. I fondly remember that during both visits we received a very warm welcome from the people of your country and were able to acquaint ourselves with the nature and culture of Indonesia. We also still retain in memory our strong impression of how your country had developed during the time between our two visits.
Since 1958, when the peace treaty between your country and mine was put into effect, various exchanges have been carried out in a wide range of areas, until today, and a close relationship of friendship and cooperation has been built. One example of the manifestation of these friendly relations is Persada University, which was established in Jakarta under the initiative of those who had studied in Japan. We often happily remember the time when we visited this university during our second trip to your country.
Hoping sincerely that your visit to Japan will be fruitful and will contribute to further strengthening the good relations existing between our two countries, I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Indonesia and Mrs. Kristiani and the happiness of the people of Indonesia.