Today, I am pleased to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Singapore diplomatic relations. First of all, I would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the kind words extended to us from the Government and the people of Singapore in response to the recent earthquakes in Kumamoto.
Exactly 50 years ago today, on April 26, 1966, Japan and Singapore established diplomatic relations. I am very pleased to note that, since then, for half a century, friendly and cooperative ties between our two nations have grown and matured from strength to strength.
Singapore is the first country with which Japan concluded a bilateral economic partnership agreement and over 1,100 Japanese companies currently operate in Singapore, many of which locate their regional headquarters. The Japan-Singapore Symposium, now in its 11th meeting, as well as the Japan Creative Centre opened in 2009 in the heart of Singapore, illustrate the flourishing of our people-to-people and cultural exchanges that have been developed over the years. Moreover, Singapore and Japan, as important partners sharing fundamental values, have been working closely together not only to assist other countries' development, including through Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century, but also to address regional and global challenges. Generous support from Singaporean people in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck Japan five years ago reminded us anew of the deep bonds between our nations.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Japan-Singapore diplomatic relations, an SJ50 logo has been chosen through public competition. With symbols that best represent each nation - Mount Fuji and the Merlion, the logo expresses a sign of an even greater leap forward.
Singapore is the first country with which Japan concluded a bilateral economic partnership agreement.
I am confident that commemorative events that will be held with this logo throughout this year will further deepen the ties between our two peoples.
Looking ahead to the next half-century and beyond, I sincerely hope that this commemorative year will bring Japan-Singapore relations to even greater heights.