23 February 2021
Today marks the 61st birthday of Emperor Naruhito of Japan and therefore Japan’s national day. He ascended to the throne on 1 May 2019 as the 126th Emperor of Japan.
This day would normally be celebrated in grand style but due to restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ambassador Norio Maruyama of Japan held small intimate functions in Pretoria, South Africa to mark the occasion.The Diplomatic Society (DS) interviewed Ambassador Norio Maruyama (HE) on this ocassion who highlighted the strengthening Japan-South Africa relations.
DS: The year 2019 was a year of unprecedented splendour and importance for Japan-South Africa relations. The Rugby World Cup hosted in Japan was a great opportunity to tighten the bonds between the people of the two countries. Most notably, President Ramaphosa visited Japan three times during the year. It was an unprecedented event in the history of South Africa-Japan relations. Given all these remarkable developments, the year 2020 should have seen a further boost in relations between the two countries. However, due to COVID-19, numerous opportunities were lost. How have you mitigated these challenges?