(MENAFN - Arab News) Top Saudi officials attended a reception on Monday hosted by Japanese Ambassador Jiro Kodera at his residence on the occasion of the 79th birthday of Emperor Akihito.
"I would like to express our sincere relief and congratulations on the discharge from the hospital of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and wish him very good health," the Japanese envoy said. Kodera arrived on Dec. 13 as Japan's new ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
"I am new and I am honored to become Japan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia which is a great country with distinct tradition and fascinating culture. I must say so is our country," he said.
Attending officials included Dr. Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al-Dawood, undersecretary of Riyadh Region governorate who represented the Saudi government; Prince Turki Al- Faisal, chairman of the board of directors of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies; Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja, minister of culture and information; and Dr. Mohammed Al Jasser, minister of economy and planning.
Kodera said that the "Japanese imperial family and Saudi Royal family maintain a long-standing cordial relationship. I wish happiness and good health for both imperial and royal families and that their friendship will further grow."
He said that in 1998, Emperor Akihito met King Abdullah, then the Crown Prince, when he visited Japan. Among the achievements of the visit, he said, was the agreement to launch a Youth Exchange Program, under which Saudi youth visit Japan and vice versa. "The two countries have been exchanging the visits of youth for deeper mutual understanding since the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah visited Japan in 1998 when he was still the Crown Prince," he said.
He said that King Abdullah's scholarship initiative had contributed to a rapid increase in the number of Saudi students in Japan, which now stand at nearly 500.
"I am indeed keen to further develop such trend and strengthen the friendship between Saudis and Japanese," he said. He added that Saudi Arabia is an important country for the world economy and that Japan appreciates its enormous contribution to the stability of the global oil market. "We also appreciate the regional peace initiatives of Saudi Arabia, specially the Arab Peace Initiative and GCC initiative for Yemen. I am pleased to mention that Japan supported the recent General Assembly resolution according Palestine 'non member observer status' in the UN," he said.
He said that Japan and Saudi Arabia are now developing a multi-layered partnership. In the fields of petrochemical industry, manufacturing and insurance, an increasing number of Japanese companies started operations this year, opened factories and made contacts on big investments with Saudi companies.
Kodera added that in the fields of water, renewable energy and transportation, Japanese firms are exploring the possibilities of cooperation with Saudi counterparts through joint research projects and feasibility studies.
He also said that the 13th Japan-Saudi Arabia Business Council Meeting will be held in the Eastern Province as well as a "Creative Japan Fashion Fair" in Feb. 2013.
"As I assume the post as ambassador of Japan to Saudi Arabia, I will do my best to develop our bilateral relations while appreciating in advance all assistance and friendship that I am sure we will receive from you. Once again I want to reiterate how much excited I am to be able to carry out my mission together with you and to live in this country," he said.