Vision of IRSEA. Romania has been continuously appreciated as a trustworthy partner by the countries in Asia. The bilateral relations between Romania and the Asian countries are free of direct political issues and with a rich history and dynamic developments over many years. Likewise, the relations between Romania and the Asian states are similarly robust at multilateral level, with a particularly strong cooperation at the UN, ASEM, ASEAN and other international formats.
In the aftermath of her 1989 democratic breakthrough, Romania has channeled utmost efforts towards deepening the integration within the European and Euro-Atlantic structures with an aim to safeguard her new democratic path, security and well-being of the Romanian people; it is against this backdrop that the bilateral relations with countries in other regions of the world have apparently developed at a different pace.
According to the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, the country’s bilateral relations with her partners in Asia, and not only, are expected to gain momentum starting with 2023: “At the same time, the investment of new energy is needed to reconnect or keep close, as the case may be, Romania's friends and partners in the Middle East, the Gulf, Africa, the Indo-Pacific and Latin America. In the current moment of global crossroads, it is not geographical distances that matter, but the proximity of values and action in mutual support when needed.” (Speech at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy, 2022)
It is in this ambit that IRSEA continues to actively support, through all its means and its status as officially recognized think-tank, Romania’s steady efforts to further strengthen her long, continuous and sincere bilateral relations with her partners and friends in Asia. There is a need to know each other better, which is the target of IRSEA’s newest projecttitled “IRSEA Bridges to Asia”- an avenue opened for High Officials, Ambassadors, IRSEA partners and professional analysts, from both Asia and Romania.
The bilateral relations between Romania and Japan have been expressively emphasized by H.E. Mr. Hiroshi Ueda , Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Romania, within his Speech on the occasion of the National Day of Japan.
Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă,
Your Excellency Mr. Former President Emil Constantinescu,
Dear Senators and Deputies and Members of the European Parliament,
Minister of Justice, Mr. Catalin Predoiu,
Minister of Development, Public Works and Administration, Mr. Cseke Attila-Zoltan,
Minister of Health, Mr. Alexandru Rafila,
Ministry of Culture, Mr. Lucian Romașcanu,
Ambassadors and Heads of Missions accredited in Romania,
Dear members of the Diplomatic Corps,
High Officials and Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the Turkey-Syria Earthquake and to express my wishes for the earliest possible recovery and reconstruction of the affected areas.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Japan's National Day is February 23, the birthday of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito.
At 63 years of age, he is the 126th Emperor of Japan, the longest continuously reigning member of the Imperial Family in the world. We are truly honored to be able to celebrate this special occasion with you all, especially face to face for the first time in three years, after the pandemic.
The year before last, in 2021, Japan and Romania celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
On that occasion, despite the pandemic, numerous festive events were held in various spheres, including the anniversary resolution adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Romanian Senate.
Japan and Romania have strengthened their friendship, especially in recent years, based on shared values such as rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights, and open economy.
In 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit Romania, where he and President Klaus Iohannis pledged to elevate bilateral relations to the level of Strategic Partnership. The following year, in 2019, President Iohannis visited Japan on the occasion of the enthronement of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Abe passed away last year.
I would like to express my gratitude for the messages of condolence from President Iohannis and many others, as well as for the attendance of Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca and Speaker Marcel Ciolacu, to Prime Minister Abe's State Funeral in Japan. Now that Mr. Abe has passed away, I believe that it is our responsibility to carry on his legacy and to conclude the document of the Strategic Partnership between our two countries.
On the economic front, more than 110 Japanese companies operate in Romania, creating over 40,000 jobs. In addition, we are participating in many of Romania's flagship projects, such as the Brăila Bridge, the largest suspension bridge in Romania and the third longest in the EU, which is under construction by the Japanese company IHI.
Another prime example of our cooperation is the Bucharest International Airport Access Railway, so-called M6 metro line, which will be built with Japanese yen loans.
Last but not least, ELI-NP, the world-class extreme laser nuclear physics research institute is with the cooperation of Osaka University for cutting-edge technology and research.
In terms of culture, arts, and sports, we are amazed at the popularity of Japan in Romania in a wide range of fields, including Japanese language, literature, martial arts, tea ceremony, pop culture, anime, manga, etc. The participation of Japanese drama artists in the Sibiu International Theater Festival has become a regular sight every June.
Last year, the year 2022, when both countries took their first steps toward the new century of bilateral relations, was marked by two major events: the convergence of Covid-19 and the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Covid-19 raged for more than two years and was a major challenge for both countries. However, owing much to bilateral and international cooperation in the medical and other fields, the major crisis was averted and restrictions have been relaxed in many countries, including Japan and Romania.
Russia's aggression against Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable and shakes the very foundations of the international order. In cooperation with Romania and other like-minded countries, Japan was quick to implement sanctions against Russia, and pledged a total of 7.1 billion US dollars in aid to Ukraine, Romania, Republic of Moldova and other neighboring countries.
Japan will strongly continue to impose sanctions against Russia and provide assistance for Ukraine with a strong determination to reject unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force (and coercion) in any region.
At the same time, I would like to express my sincere respect and admiration for Romania, as a key member of NATO's Eastern Flank and Bucharest 9, for fulfilling the responsibilities by providing assistance to refugees, supporting the transportation of Ukrainian grain, providing energy assistance, supporting Republic of Moldova, and many more.
In particular, we witnessed firsthand the heartwarming welcome extended to Ukrainian refugees by the Romanian people. This reminds me of how, right after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, our Romanian friends invited children from Fukushima to Romania to heal their hearts. I am sure I am not the only Japanese who recall this Romanian hospitality.
The world is now at a turning point in history. The free and open international order based on the rule of law that has upheld peace and prosperity in the post-Cold War era is facing serious challenges. Furthermore, there are mounting challenges common to all humankind, such as climate change, global health, response to frequent natural disasters, and many more.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Takasugi Shinsaku, one of the architects of the Meiji Restoration that modernized Japan from the samurai era said, "The degree to which you can trust your friends becomes clear when you are in an emergency or difficult situation.”
I have heard a similar saying in Romanian: "Prietenul la nevoie se cunoaște.”
In the face of the challenges we confront, I am convinced that Japan and Romania will very soon raise their relations to the level of Strategic Partnership and continue to do the utmost in the international community, based on common values and with greater strength and deeper trust.
According to the Japanese zodiac of 60 year cycle, the year 2023 is the year of "Mizunoto-u, water-rabbit”, which has the implication of “the year in which our past efforts will blossom and begin to bear fruit”.
To conclude my words, please allow me to extend my best wishes for the further development of the bilateral relations in this auspicious year.
Thank you very much.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.