The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent birthday greetings to Emperor Akihito of Japan, wishing him a long life, health and well-being.
The message was conveyed by Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono during a ceremony to celebrate the emperor’s 79th birthday on Tuesday evening at the Hotel Mulia Senayan. The emperor was born on Dec. 23, 1933.
Agung said that the Indonesian government and people had high degree of respect for the emperor, who had paid a great deal of attention to Indonesian development.
He added that relations between both countries had reached a strategic level in various sectors.
Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Yoshinori Katori said that bilateral relations had new dynamics and were getting stronger every year.
“Our investment, for example, so far this year has reached some US$1.8 billion — double last year’s figure,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the ceremony.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Japanese Representative to ASEAN Kimihiro Ishikane were also in attendance.
Ishikane said the fact that Tokyo was sending one of its most senior diplomats to Jakarta signified Indonesia’s importance.
Meanwhile, he said he was one of the youngest ambassadors in the Japanese foreign service, signifying the vitality of ASEAN-Japan relations.
In 2013, both countries will celebrate the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan relationship.
Katori told the Post that the there were between 1,200 and 1,300 Japanese companies operating in Indonesia, with some 12,000 Japanese citizens living in Indonesia. “The number of Japanese people in Indonesia is increasing, including our students at Indonesian universities,” he said.
Diplomatic relations between Japan and Indonesia opened in April, 1958 and now Japan is a major
trading partner for Indonesia.
In the first nine months this year, total trade volume between the two countries reached some $40.54 billion, a 2.09 percent increase from $39.71 billion in the same period in 2011, according to the Indonesian Trade Ministry. The trend in the 2007-2011 period showed an average increase of 11.97 percent from $30.15 billion in 2007 to $53.15 billion.
Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne in 1989 as the 125th emperor of Japan. He married Michiko Shoda, the first commoner to marry an imperial family member, on April 10, 1959. Together, the imperial couple has two sons, one daughter and four grandchildren.
Following the footsteps of his father, the late Emperor Hirohito, who had an interest in marine biology, Akihito is an accomplished ichthyologist and has written a number of papers in scientific journals.