Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor
at the State Banquet in Honor of
His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf
and Her Majesty Queen Silvia
of the Kingdom of Sweden
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Majesties the King and the Queen on the occasion of your State Visit to Japan. I am truly delighted to be able to spend this evening here with you.
At the outset, I wish to thank Your Majesty for Your warm words of sympathy for the victims of the Noto Peninsula Earthquake that hit the Noto region yesterday. We are most grateful for the concern You expressed to us when we met this morning. In this earthquake, one person lost her life and many people were wounded. Even more people lost their homes and are in temporary shelters. As after-tremors continue to haunt the region, we sincerely hope that the life and safety of the inhabitants of the affected region will be fully assured.
Your Majesty the King visited Japan for the first time as Crown Prince on the occasion of the World Exposition held in Osaka. After your accession to the throne, you visited Japan in 1980 together with Her Majesty the Queen as State Guests. Since then, you have come to Japan on many occasions. Your Majesties attended the Funeral Ceremony of my father Emperor Showa as well as the Ceremony of my accession to the Throne, for which I am deeply grateful.
I first visited Sweden more than 50 years ago on a tour of European countries following my attendance at the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom. At that time, I called on your grand-father King Gustaf VI Adolf at the Royal Palace in Sofiero, who received me with warm hospitality. As I had come from Japan where the recovery from the devastation caused by the war was underway thanks to the diligent work of the Japanese people, I was deeply impressed by the affluence that every person was enjoying in Sweden. In 1985, I visited your country, together with the Empress, who was then Crown Princess, as the representative of Emperor Showa to reciprocate Your Majesties' State Visit to Japan. The Empress and I visited Sweden again in 2000 as State Guests. We still cherish the fond memory that, during these two visits, we were afforded such courteous hospitality by Your Majesties, and warm welcome by the people of your country, for both of which we are truly grateful.
This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl von Linné, who was born in Sweden in the 18th century and served as Professor of Medicine and Botany at Uppsala University. Linné is the originator of the bi-nominal nomenclature, which is used today as the universal method for naming plants and animals. This system of nomenclature has made possible to carry out various studies, such as the classification of the types of plants and animals, the relationship between species and their distributions on the basis of universal criteria. As I am engaged in the study of taxonomy, Linné never leaves my mind. I am looking forward to accompanying Your Majesties tomorrow to the exhibition on Linné, which is now being held at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.
Linné's student Carl Peter Thunberg, who later became a professor at Uppsala University like Linné, served as a medical doctor at the Dutch Trading Post in Nagasaki from 1775 to 1776. Japan pursued a policy of national seclusion from around the mid-17th century till the mid-19th century. In those days, of all the European nations, only the Netherlands was allowed to continue exchanges with Japan at Nagasaki. In the latter half of the 18th century, Japanese medical doctors who had the chance to see the drawings in advanced medical books from Europe started to question the validity of the traditional medical knowledge that they had studied thus far. For the purpose of acquiring more accurate understanding of the human anatomy, Genpaku Sugita and other medical doctors residing in Edo gathered to translate a Dutch text of anatomy into Japanese. As a result of their tremendous efforts, the translation was completed, and “Kaitai-shinsho”, which means the new book of anatomy was published a year before Thunberg's visit to Japan. Thunberg accompanied the director of the Dutch Trading Post to Edo, where two doctors Hoshu Katsuragawa and Junan Nakagawa, both the participants in the translation work, received extensive teachings from him. These contacts continued even after Thunberg had returned to Sweden. The letters from these two Japanese doctors to Thunberg have been preserved in Uppsala University. It was more than 20 years ago that we had the deeply moving experience of seeing these letters at Uppsala University with Your Majesties.
Japan abolished the policy of national seclusion in the mid-19th century, and began to establish diplomatic relations with foreign countries. In 1868, the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation was signed with Sweden. Prior to Japan's establishment of diplomatic relations with foreign countries, Japanese people had chances of meeting foreigners who held good will and appreciative attitude toward Japanese people such as Thunberg, from whom they learnt a lot. I believe that it was primarily because of encounters with such foreigners that Japan managed to grasp clearly the situation of the outside world, to learn diligently from the scientific and cultural progress achieved in Europe and America, and, thereby to be able to maintain the independence.
After the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries, our friendship has flourished with little interruption thanks to the accumulated endeavors of our predecessors. Today, I am pleased to note that peoples of our two countries, both adhering to the common basic values, have come to possess shared interests and to promote fruitful cooperation in various fields such as humanitarian issues, social welfare, culture, science and technology and industry.
As we have had a mild winter this year, we are glad that we are able to welcome Your Majesties just when the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom. I hope that Your Majesties will enjoy the beauty of spring at various places in Japan, and that your visit will be fruitful.
Now, I would like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Majesties, and to the happiness of the people of Sweden.
Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor
at the State Banquet in Honor of
His Excellency Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet,
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
November 26, 2007
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Excellency Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Mrs. Chi on the occasion of your State Visit to Japan.
I am told that Your Excellency the President visited Japan in May 2004 as the leader of Ho Chi Minh City in order to personally urge Japanese companies to come and do business in the rapidly growing Ho Chi Minh City. This is but one example of the important role you have been playing in enhancing the ties between our two countries, and I am delighted to be able to welcome Your Excellency today.
There has been an exchange between the people of Vietnam and the people of Japan since ancient times. In Japan, we have a traditional music genre called gagaku, which consists of songs and dances from our own tradition and instrumental music and dances from abroad. Those of foreign origin include music and dances brought to Japan by a Buddhist monk called Buttetsu from his native Champa, an ancient kingdom then located in the central part of Vietnam. Historical records reveal that Buttetsu came to Japan and dedicated a dance from Champa at the eye-opening ceremony of the Great Buddha of Todai-ji Temple in Nara in 752.
This morning I had the opportunity to listen to nha nhac, the music of Vietnam which can be traced back to the same roots as our gagaku. As I listened, I thought of the long history of the two respective genres of music, and I was happy to be able to deepen my understanding of the music of Vietnam.
From the 16th to 17th centuries Japanese merchants used to sail to Hoi An, a port town in central Vietnam which was then thriving as a hub of trade between the East and the West, and established a Japanese settlement there. Hoi An still has a bridge called the Japanese Bridge and graves of the Japanese people, which remind us of the active exchanges between our two peoples at that time. But from the 17th century onwards, Japan adopted a closed-door policy and banned its people from going overseas, which cut off direct contact between our two peoples.
It was in 1973 that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Japan established diplomatic relations. Next year will be its 35th anniversary, and I am told that various commemorative events will be held by our two countries. The people of Vietnam have overcome the huge damage caused by wars as well as numerous difficulties over the years and are now striving to build a country full of vitality. I feel truly delighted that cooperation is being promoted in various areas between the people of Vietnam and the people of Japan.
I came to have a personal affiliation with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam when I listed a gobiid fish native to Vietnam and donated a paratype to Hanoi University. This gobiid fish was collected in a tributary of the Cantho River in a joint research project of the Republic of Vietnam and Japan. However, by the time I tried to list this species as a new species, the unification of Vietnam by the then Democratic Republic of Vietnam was almost complete. With regard to the type specimen used in listing a new species, I believed that it was desirable to keep a part of it near the collecting site so that researchers can refer to it for comparison in the species identification process. Based on this belief, I presented my thesis in the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology in 1976 and donated the type specimen used in the listing as a paratype to Hanoi University.
Both the people of Vietnam and the people of Japan have cultivated rice since ancient times, adopted Chinese characters at some point in our histories, and nurtured our own respective cultures. The word gagaku, although pronounced differently in our two countries, was expressed using the same Chinese characters. We thus have many things in common in our histories, and I believe it is truly significant for our two peoples to further deepen exchanges and ties of friendship.
It is now late autumn here in Tokyo, with leaves turning red and yellow vividly day by day. Kyoto, which Your Excellency and Mrs.Chi are scheduled to visit the day after tomorrow, is renowned for its beautiful autumn foliage. I realize that you have a very busy schedule, but I do hope that you will find time to enjoy viewing the autumn colors.
It is my heartfelt wish that your visit will be a fruitful one, contributing to further enhance the mutual understanding and friendly ties between our two countries. I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Excellency Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Mrs. Chi, and to the happiness of the people of Vietnam.