President Halimah lauds strong Singapore-Japan ties

Singapore President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, posing for a wefie with Yomiuri Shimbun political writer Keita Ikeda and his Singaporean wife, Dr Rita Zamzamah Nazeer, an assistant professor in English-language studi
Singapore President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, posing for a wefie with Yomiuri Shimbun political writer Keita Ikeda and his Singaporean wife, Dr Rita Zamzamah Nazeer, an assistant professor in English-language studies at Tokyo's Mejiro University, as well as their two daughters Nadya and Sofya (in front) at a reception for the Singapore community in Japan last night.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

After six years in Japan, Singaporean textile designer Stacy Arianelle Tan recently launched her debut collection of apparel and bags.

The 30-year-old, who sews her products by hand, yesterday gave visiting Singapore President Halimah Yacob a tote bag under her label, Yabai Yabai (Japanese colloquialism for cool), which she hopes to take to Singapore some day.

"What the President said about us Singaporeans flying the flag high in Japan really spoke to me," she said. "It's been a challenge living here sometimes, but we have our pride and do our best here."

Ms Tan was among the 390 Singaporeans who attended a dinner reception for the Singapore community in Japan last night.

Madam Halimah is on her first trip to Japan as President, to attend the formal enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito today.

"Wherever we go, it's not just about the government-to-government relationship, it's not just us coming as tourists or becoming investors," said Madam Halimah.

"It's also about how individual Singaporeans living here engage with ordinary Japanese... (and) leave a very memorable imprint on them as to what kind of people we are, what kind of a country we are."

Dr Rita Zamzamah Nazeer, 39, assistant professor in English-language studies at Tokyo's Mejiro University, told The Straits Times that the adjustment to moving here 10 years ago was trying.

But Dr Rita, who is married to Mr Keita Ikeda, a political writer at Yomiuri Shimbun, said: "I think my family has contributed to heterogeneity in this society. People are becoming more welcoming of diversity, and are open to learning about different cultures." The couple have two daughters, aged 11 and seven.

 
 

The relationship between Singapore and Japan has grown from strength to strength over five decades, said Madam Halimah.

She noted that more than 430,000 Singaporeans - one in nine people - visited Japan last year, while Singapore received nearly 830,000 Japanese visitors.

On the business and economic front, Jewel Changi Airport and Fukuoka International Airport form an example of strong ties.

The Fukuoka International Airport has, since April, been jointly operated by Singapore's Changi Airports International and a consortium of Japanese companies. Japan also had a big hand in Jewel, whose main contractor was construction giant Obayashi Corporation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2019, with the headline 'President Halimah lauds strong Singapore-Japan ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe