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Thank you, and thank you to Ambassador Ishikawa for hosting this wonderful reception.

I would like to welcome Ministers and parliamentary colleagues from the House of Commons and the Senate, and members of the diplomatic community. 

My name is David Tkachuk, and I have the honour to be the Senate co-chair of the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Association, the Canadian counterpart of the Japan-Canada Diet Friendship League. 

Since 1989, our two groups have provided parliamentarians from our two countries with valuable opportunities to exchange views, and to learn about each other.  

This coming January, we will again welcome a delegation from the Diet to Canada.

Interpersonal relations, whether it be at the parliamentary level, or among leaders, are key to the good relations that our two nations enjoy.

On this day, we celebrate the birthday of your nation’s Emperor. 

Last year, we were honoured by the presence of their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan as they spent twelve days here in Canada, travelling not just to Ottawa, but to several places across our great country.

During their visit they had an opportunity to meet many Canadians, including the 800 people who gathered at the National Gallery here at a reception hosted by the embassy.

This was actually His Majesty’s second visit to Canada, after we first welcomed him to our country as Crown Prince in 1953.   

We are told that the Emperor composed a short poem to mark his time in Canada, which in translation goes like this: “Here I am again/In Canada where I journeyed/ In my days of youth/ Greatly impressed am I to see/ The new face of this country.”

Mr. Ambassador, we appreciate the Emperor’s fond words. 

During his visit to Japan earlier this month, our Prime Minister was invited to a private dinner with the Emperor, which we are told is a rare honour.

As well, our two prime ministers have met privately twice this year, in Canada prior to the Canadian G8 and G20, and a few weeks ago in your country on the occasion of the APEC summit where they signed the 2010 Canada-Japan Joint Declaration on Political, Peace and Security Cooperation.

This declaration will deepen our bilateral relations and better protect the citizens of both countries.

We are close partners in promoting security and development at home and around the globe, including in two countries of particular interest to Canada at this point in time, Afghanistan and Haiti. 

Mr. Ambassador, Japan is a valued partner, not just because it has a large and advanced economy, but because it is a like-minded, yet non-Western, voice in Asia.

We are partners in many international organizations, including the G8, the G20, APEC, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  We are friends, and we are allies.

Mr. Ambassador, when I introduced you last week, I pointed to the extensive experience that you bring to your position, which I think underlines the importance that your country places on relations with my country. 

On behalf of all members of the Canada Japan Parliamentary Association and my colleagues, I again thank you and your staff for the wonderful hospitality that you are showing today, and for the invitation to share in the celebration of your national day, the birthday of the Emperor.