Halimah lauds commitment of Japan's new Emperor

President Halimah with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo yesterday. Madam Halimah was among the heads of state and royalty from about 180 countries who attended Emperor Naruhito's coronation on Tuesday. PHOT
President Halimah with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo yesterday. Madam Halimah was among the heads of state and royalty from about 180 countries who attended Emperor Naruhito's coronation on Tuesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

Naruhito's concern for citizens, global causes leaves deep impression, says President

Singapore is confident that Japan, under the reign of new Emperor Naruhito, will continue to be a bulwark for stability, progress and peace domestically and in the region, said visiting President Halimah Yacob.

She told Singapore reporters yesterday, after witnessing the time-honoured rituals of the royal enthronement ceremony, that the 59-year-old left a deep impression with his commitment to the Japanese people and global causes.

The duties of Emperor Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, 55, will be challenging in a fast-changing society, she said.

But she added: "The words of the Emperor, as I listened very carefully, (showed) very clearly that he's interested in ensuring the quality of life and the welfare of the people of Japan. This is always at the centre of whatever he does.

"He does not forget also that Japan is part of the international community, and he mentioned that Japan will continue to make contributions... to the world as well. I think that's really important."

Madam Halimah was among the heads of state and royalty from about 180 countries who attended Emperor Naruhito's formal coronation on Tuesday.

This came after his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, marking the dawn of the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) era.

Yesterday, Madam Halimah met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Akasaka State Guest House. She expressed her condolences over the extensive devastation wrought by Typhoon Hagibis, which killed more than 80 people this month.

A statement by Japan's Foreign Ministry noted Madam Halimah's praises for the resilience of the Japanese, while Mr Abe expressed his heartfelt gratitude for a thoughtful condolence message from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Japan also views Singapore as a valuable partner on trade, the statement said, given its support for mega trade deals like the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership, known informally as the TPP-11, and the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Both leaders yesterday agreed to work together to steadily implement and grow the membership of the TPP-11, and towards the early conclusion of the RCEP.

 
 
 

They were also on the same page on the need to reform the World Trade Organisation, so that it can better support the rules-based multilateral trade order.

Given his pledge to build a society in which women can shine, Mr Abe referred to Madam Halimah as a "role model" in the push for gender equality as Singapore's first female Speaker of Parliament and first female president, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

It added that the two leaders also discussed a range of issues and challenges common to their countries.

These include their vision to build smart cities, struggle to lift the birth rate in an ageing society and goal of mitigating problem gambling even as casinos are part of integrated resorts.

Yesterday, Madam Halimah also had tea with members of the Japan-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship League, with whom she discussed issues such as technological disruption and climate change, said Singapore's Foreign Ministry.

She also visited Japanese technology giant NEC's interactive showroom Future Creation Hub, where she saw exhibits such as a biometric data-based identification system for smooth and fast travel, and a retail experience based on facial recognition.

Last night, the President and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, attended a banquet hosted by Mr Abe and his wife Akie at the Hotel New Otani Tokyo.

They return to Singapore today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2019, with the headline 'Halimah lauds commitment of Japan's new Emperor'. Print Edition | Subscribe