Address by His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino at the Luncheon hosted by the Minister of Science and Culture and her spouse (July 5th, 2019, Tuusula, Finland)
Your Excellency Ms. Annika Saarikko, Minister of Science and Culture,
Mr. Erkki Papunen,
It is a great pleasure for me to make my first official visit to Finland, together with my wife, to mark the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Finland. I would like to express our deep gratitude to Minister Saarikko and Mr. Papunen, for hosting this luncheon here in Tuusula.
My parents, Their Majesties the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita visited Finland for the first time in 1985. I have learned that Their Majesties received a warm welcome here in Ainola, the home of Sibelius, on the occasion of their visit.
One of the supporters in Japan for the activities of Professor Gustaf John Ramstedt, the first envoy of Finland to Japan, was Pastor Tadao Watanabe, whose son with his Finnish wife Siiri, was Maestro Akeo Watanabe, with whom I have had conversations on several occasions. He was the prominent founding conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and introduced the music of Jean Sibelius to Japanese audiences. It is most gratifying to know that the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra had its first performance in Finland this April.
Today we had a wonderful piano concert by Mr. Izumi Tateno, the Chairperson of the Sibelius Society of Japan, on this commemorative occasion for Japan and Finland. I believe that everyone here is quite aware of how significant it is to have this concert, here in Ainola.
In recent years, more and more actively, cultural exchanges are taking place in such fields as music, art, and design. It is my sincere wish that there will be further exchanges between our two peoples, and that the cordial relationship between Japan and Finland will be further strengthened for many years to come.
Thank you for your kind attention.