Ambassador Sato said: Emperor Akihito celebrates his 85th birthday on the 23rd of this month, and it is a great honour and pleasure for me to rejoice with you today on this special occasion. The Emperor is a symbol of Japan as a nation and as a people. The Emperor moves forward, hand in hand with the people of Japan. When Japan is hit by a natural disaster, he will visit affected areas to offer support and encouragement. People facing difficulties are often struck and encouraged by his sincerity.

In 2006, the Emperor expressed his desire to abdicate. It surprised us all, as His Imperial Majesty will be the first Emperor of Japan to abdicate in over 200 years. The people of Japan respected his feelings, and he will abdicate on 30 April 2019. This evening therefore will be the last birthday reception for our current Emperor. On 1 May 2019, we will celebrate the succession of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan as Emperor and Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess as Empress. So the next year will be the dawn of a new era for Japan.

The ambassador said next year is also the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Japan. There would be various cultural events and people-to-people exchanges in both countries in 2019.

She continued: 150 years. When we look back, there are some heart-warming episodes. In 1886, Mr Eduard Remenyi, Hungarian violinist for Franz Joseph I and Queen Victoria, visited Japan on one of his world tours, and had the opportunity to play the violin in front of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was said to be the first ever opportunity for the imperial family to gather together in the western costume.
During the next emperor’s era in 1926, Admiral Miklōs Horthy presented Emperor Showa a Hungarian horse called "Shirayuki", "Snow White" in English.

I cannot go over more details of the 150 years but may I take this opportunity to highlight some of the memorable events which took place during the past one year.

Ambassador Sato said the number of Japanese-owned companies in Hungary has now grown to 160, creating about 33,000 jobs. This year, Japanese companies, GS Yuasa, ZOLTEK, Suzuki, Bridgestone and NIDEC had decided to make additional investments to Hungary, and JSR MOL Synthetic Rubber had opened a new plant.
Guests at the reception could learn more about the activities and contributions of some of these Japanese companies by looking at the exhibition stands of Suzuki, Itelligence NTT DATA Business Solutions, NISSIN, ASAHI Beer and Toyota.

# Japan’s Ambassador to Hungary, Sato Kuni, greets a guest

The Ambassador concluded: I have also witnessed various cultural and educational exchanges since I took up this position towards the end of last year. One among many memorable moments was the conferment in January on Mr Dēnes Szabo, Director and Conductor of the Cantemus Choral Institute, the decoration The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.

Looking at the future, if not 150 years from now, Japan will host two big events, the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo in 2020 and the World Expo in Osaka in 2025. I hope that these and other events provide good opportunities for the Hungary-Japan bilateral relationship to grow further.

Guest of honour at the reception was Speaker of the National Assembly László Kövér.

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