Toast Remarks by Deputy Minister Ebrahim I Ebrahim on the occasion of the National Day of Japan, Pretoria, 8 December 2009

Your Excellency Ambassador Toshiro Ozawa;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

We are almost at the end of a very remarkable year for both South Africa and Japan! Apart from the respective watershed elections that our countries held this year, it seems we are riding out the last throes of the global economic recession and we should be thankful for that, as both our countries have experienced its adverse economic and financial effects.

Your Excellency,

As you are aware, trade between our countries remains the backbone of our relations. Japan, which is the world’s 2nd largest economy, was the top destination for South African exports in 2008, before the global economic downturn, whereas Japan was South Africa’s fourth largest source of imports that year. A number of Japanese companies have major investments in South Africa and employ thousands of South African workers, while others have trade and industrial relationships with some South African State Owned Enterprises. Moreover, we have noted Japan’s advanced status as an energy-efficient economy and as a major user of nuclear energy, and believe that there are possibilities for further, mutually beneficial co-operation in these spheres as well.

Your Excellency, distinguished guests,

My government sincerely appreciates Japan’s efforts to enhance relations between our two countries. The Japanese government’s well-documented and continued support of the South African Government’s five priorities through capacity building and skills development, most notably in the education and health sectors, is held in high regard, as is scientific and technical co-operation. In the same vein, South Africa appreciates the Government of Japan’s demonstrated commitment to contribute to the consolidation of the African Agenda, through, inter alia, the country’s support of various NEPAD projects. Therefore, the envisioned high-level visits between South Africa and Japan in 2010 will go a long way towards deepening and reinvigorating our existing relations.

Your Excellency,

I am of the opinion that our traditional trade relations can develop further into the social and cultural spheres as well as into broader people-to-people contacts. Accordingly, 2010 marks 100 years since the establishment of official relations between South Africa and Japan, and this presents a realistic opportunity to enhance people-to-people relations.   I understand that the events planned in both South Africa and Japan to celebrate this historic occasion will showcase our respective countries’ cultures and promote a broader understanding among and between our peoples. I, personally, hope to participate in some of the events that will be hosted by the Embassy of Japan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I conclude, allow me to congratulate Japan for qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As a previous co-host Japan has been sympathetic to challenges our country may experience during this event. We therefore value all the input and support that the Japanese government has shown in this regard. Ambassador, I hope you have purchased your tickets and if not there are still a few hundred up for grabs. Whereas we wish your team a good run at the World Cup, we will also be cheering our Bafana Bafana along.

Your Excellency, on this occasion, when we celebrate the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor and the 20th anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne, on behalf of the South African Government and our people, I take pleasure in extending to you and the Japanese nation our warmest congratulations and trust that His Majesty will live to see many more.

Thank you

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