KYOTO - Singapore enjoys close ties with Japan's various prefectures, visiting President Tony Tan Keng Yam said in the ancient capital of Kyoto on Friday night (Dec 2).
Dr Tan, who is on a state visit to Japan, arrived in Kyoto by the shinkansen bullet train on Friday afternoon after spending the last few days in Tokyo, where he met Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
His visit comes as the two countries celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations. "The links between Singapore and Japan, and in fact Singapore and the various prefectures, continue to strengthen with time," said Dr Tan.
He noted that the Kyoto State Guest House - the location of Friday night's banquet - was built in 2005 by Japanese architectural firm Nikken Sekkei, which was part of a team awarded the concept master plan in 2015 for the 24-km Rail Corridor in Singapore.
Paved cycling paths and sheltered rest areas, lively event spaces and quiet rainforest viewing platforms all feature in the winning plan, which Nikken Sekkei conceptualised with Singaporean landscape firm Tierra Design.
Dr Tan also highlighted the five-year agreement inked on Thursday (Dec 1) between the business schools of Singapore Management University and Kyoto University.
The pact furthers academic collaboration through student, faculty and research information exchanges, as well as to conduct joint research and initiatives.
It is the second agreement between the two tertiary institutions - the first was a student exchange agreement between the economics schools of the two universities that had been established in August this year.
"This is the latest in a series of collaborations between our universities, enabling our students and scholars to learn from and work with each other, and establishing friendships between our younger generations," Dr Tan said Friday.
Referring to Kyoto as a "uniquely charming" historic city that is a popular destination for Singaporeans, Dr Tan also said there was room to develop further air connectivity between Singapore and Japan, with tourist numbers on both sides continuing to grow.
Earlier Friday in Tokyo, Dr Tan had lunch with members of the Japan-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship League, and had a farewell call with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Friday night's banquet in Kyoto was hosted by Kyoto Prefecture Governor Keiji Yamada, Kyoto City Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa, and the Chairman of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yoshio Tateishi.
On Dr Tan's three-day visit to Kyoto, he will be treated to Imperial Court Music and attend a tea ceremony with Urasenke Grand Master, Dr Genshitsu Sen.
"Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, and has contributed greatly to the development of various traditional arts," he said.
On Sunday, Dr Tan will return to Tokyo, where he will attend a reception for Singaporeans living in Japan.