His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will participate in the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan, which will take place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo today, to reaffirm the strong friendship and distinguished relations between Qatar and Japan and the keenness of the two countries to develop and strengthen these relations.
The Amir had paid an official visit to Japan in January as part of an Asian tour that also included South Korea and China, aiming to strengthen Qatari relations with the three Asian economic giants, and to enhance these relations to long-term strategic partnerships, which would serve the interests of Qatar and the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as the aspirations of its people for progress and prosperity.
The Qatari-Japanese relations are characterised by their historical depth and development year after year, as well as being based on strong friendship, co-operation, respect and trust between the two countries.
Over the years, these relations have been characterised by close and fruitful co-operation, and economic exchanges have become the backbone of these relations for more than four decades.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1972 with the focus on the economic field since its inception. However, over the years these relations have grown to include more sectors.
The mutual senior level official visits between the two countries have also contributed to the development and expansion of bilateral relations.
Japan is an important trading partner for Qatar, as it is one of the largest energy importers, while Qatar is currently the fourth in the world as Japan’s largest supplier of energy resources, especially natural gas.
In 2017, Qatari exports to Japan amounted to about QR42.12bn, while imports amounted to about QR5.75bn.
Giant Japanese companies are contributing to Qatar’s vital infrastructure projects, particularly those related to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and projects such as Hamad International Airport, Qatar Metro, power generation and water desalination facilities.
On April 30, Japan entered a new era that has not been seen in 200 years, after Japanese Emperor Akihito ended his reign by abdicating his throne to his eldest son, Prince Naruhito, who is now the country’s 126th emperor.
Emperor Akihito ended a three-decade term in which he sought to ease the painful memories of World War II and bring the imperial family closer to the Japanese people.
Japan has completed its preparations to celebrate this unprecedented historic occasion, especially as it is not mourning the former emperor, as was the case in 1989 when Emperor Hirohito died, as well as in 1926 after the death of Emperor Taisho, and in 1912 after the death of Emperor Meiji.
This occasion would be the first time in two centuries that a Japanese emperor abdicated under the rule of law.
The enthronement of Emperor Naruhito will be attended by kings, princes, heads of state and prominent guests from more than 190 countries and international organisations, as well as about 2,500 local and foreign dignitaries, Japanese parliamentarians, conservatives and prominent representatives from other fields.
The new Emperor, dressed in a formal imperial attire, will take up a luxurious platform called the Takamikura, the name of the throne, where he will take his oath of office.
The new Empress Masako, who will wear a distinctive dress with many layers, will enter a smaller platform called Michodai, which is next to the Emperor’s platform.
Adult members of the imperial family will also attend the ceremony wearing elaborate traditional clothes. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will then congratulate the Emperor on his accession to the throne, while the Ground Self-Defence Forces will present artillery salute from a garden in the Imperial Palace.
On September 18, a government committee responsible for determining the details of the enthronement ceremony finalised the timetable and details of the events to be held on this occasion.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that his government is keen to welcome guests from all over the world and ensure that the ceremony is held smoothly.
On this occasion, Japan granted an amnesty to some 600,000 people convicted of minor offences, but made it clear that the amnesty would not include those sentenced to prison or the death penalty due to the severity of the committed crimes.
In his first speech after ascending to the throne, Naruhito said, “I swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfil my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them.”
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered his “heartfelt congratulations” on behalf of the Japanese people. “We are determined to create a bright future for a proud Japan filled with peace and hope at a time when the international situation is changing dramatically,” he said.
Last February, Emperor Naruhito held a press conference in which he addressed many questions about his life and his next role as emperor, speaking candidly about how he felt regarding the future and that what he had learned from his parents and their approach to performing their duties as that would be an important guide for him, and expressing his conviction that new winds are blowing with each era, and that the role of the imperial family is changing, stressing that he will continue to pursue the ideal role that the imperial family in Japan must play in the future.
The Japanese Emperor who was educated at Oxford, faces a special challenge to balance his father’s legacy of bringing the monarchy closer to the people while upholding the centuries-old traditions of the Throne.
Naruhito ascends Japan’s throne in a very different Japan to the one his father took over when he became emperor in 1989, as Japan at that time ruled the world economically, it was technologically very advanced compared to other industrial countries, and the Japanese stock market was at its peak, however Japan is now in a battle against economic downturn and slow growth as its population ages rapidly.
The Japanese Imperial family is the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world.
The family’s lineage dates back to the sixth century BC.
Japan has a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, whereby the emperor is the head of state, a symbol of the state and the unity of the people, and the highest authority and carries out several different actions, namely the issuance of constitutional amendments, laws and treaties, and the appointment of the prime minister, all of which were in the hands of Emperor before 1945, before the end of World War II.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
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