Jewel Changi and Fukuoka Airport bear testament to close Singapore-Japan ties: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee meeting Singaporeans in Tokyo on Oct 21, 2019.
President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee meeting Singaporeans in Tokyo on Oct 21, 2019.PHOTO: MCI

TOKYO - Jewel Changi Airport and Fukuoka International Airport bear testament to Singapore's strong ties with Japan, President Halimah Yacob said here on Monday (Oct 21).

She noted that the partnership had grown from strength to strength over five decades.

Another clear example would be how closely the peoples of the two countries were connected, she said, pointing to the more than 430,000 Singaporeans - or one in nine citizens - who visited Japan last year. Singapore, meanwhile, received nearly 830,000 Japanese visitors, 4.6 per cent jump in numbers.

Madam Halimah said that in the early years of the relationship, Japan contributed significantly to Singapore's nation building through trade, investments, employment and technology.

"Today, Japan is Singapore's eighth-largest trading partner and third-largest foreign investor," she pointed out.

Madam Halimah, who is on her first trip to Japan as President to attend the Sokuirei Seiden no Gi formal enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday, was speaking at a dinner reception in Tokyo with Singaporeans based in Japan.

Aviation has played a big part in economic cooperation between the two countries.

The Fukuoka International Airport has, since April, been jointly operated by Singapore's Changi Airports International and a consortium of Japanese companies. The airport is located in the city of Fukuoka on the south-western island of Kyushu, and is billed as Japan's gateway to Asia, with Tokyo, Busan, Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei all under three hours away by flight.

Japan, meanwhile, has a major hand in Changi Airport's gleaming new attraction, Jewel.


The complex's main contractor was Japanese construction giant Obayashi Corporation, Madam Halimah pointed out. And one of Jewel's highlights, the Shiseido Forest Valley, is a collaboration between Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido and art collective teamLab.

Besides the two transport hubs, there is also close and increasing cooperation in wide-ranging areas, from education to healthcare and digital economy to cyber security, as evident in a series of high-level visits this year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Osaka in June to attend the Group of 20 (G-20) leaders' summit, while Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat was in Tokyo in May to speak at Nikkei's marquee annual conference, the Future of Asia.

Madam Halimah noted that the Singapore Airlines group was operating 114 flights between Singapore and Japan every week, a "testament to the importance and attractiveness of Japan as a business, investment and tourism destination".

And with Tokyo hosting the Olympics and Paralympics next year, Madam Halimah offered congratulations to the two Singaporean athletes who have qualified for the Games - diver Jonathan Chan and gymnast Tan Sze En.

"I look forward to more good news from our Team Singapore athletes," she said.