Bismillahi- Rahmani Rahim
Your Excellency Mr. Masakazu Hamachi, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan,
Your Excellency Ambassador Suganuma,
Ministers, Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assalaamalaikum, konbanwa and very good evening to you all
Tonight as we gather to celebrate the joyous occasion of the opening of the Embassy of Japan in the Maldives, I wish to congratulate the Government and friendly people of Japan and welcome this important milestone in the close relations between our two counties. The opening of the Embassy is the beginning of a new chapter in the strong bonds between the governments and the peoples of Maldives and Japan; I am privileged and honoured to be part of this important event. I have the honour to warmly welcome, His Excellency Masakazu Hamachi, Parliamentary Vice Minister of Japan.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Formal diplomatic ties between the two countries began in 1967, nearly fifty years ago. Our relationship however, has its anchor way back in the Fifteenth Century on something that is very special to our two peoples - “Katsuobushi” (dried Bonito), known as “Hikimas” in the Maldives. According to the history of “Katsuobushi,” Katsuobushi originated in the Maldives in the late Fourteenth Century and was introduced to Japan in the early Fifteenth Century from the Maldives. While Hikimas remains an important ingredient in Maldivian cooking, I understand that Katsuobushi is essentially the base of Japanese cuisine as well.

Since the beginning of official diplomatic ties, our relationship has grown from strength to strength. Japan has been a true and a well-respected friend who has always stood by us during times of need. The development assistance we have received from the friendly people of Japan has contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of our country. From human resources development to environmental protection, sustainable fisheries to modern day communications and transport, electrification, health sector development as well as humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in the aftermath of the devastating Asian Tsunami of 2004, Japanese assistance has virtually reached all four corners of the Maldivian archipelago. I can say quite confidently that, there isn’t a single Maldivian who has not benefited, either directly or indirectly, from the generosity of Japan over the years. I can very proudly say that every yen that Japan has given us has reached its intended target and has contributed directly to the betterment of the livelihoods of our people.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we celebrate this historic milestone in the relations between our two countries, we are reminded of the official visit of President Yameen to Japan in 2014. That was the first time that a head of state from the Maldives visited Japan on the official invitation of the Japanese Government. That was also the first official visit of President Yameen to any country outside of the South Asia region.

During the visit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Yameen agreed on a new stage of cooperation based on over forty years of friendship and trust. I have no doubt; the opening of the Embassy is clearly a direct outcome of this renewed friendship and cooperation.

Since the President’s visit, we have witnessed increased high-level exchanges between the two countries including greater cooperation amongst parliamentarians. I too have had the pleasure of making an official visit to Japan last year and meet with Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Kishida. I sincerely hope that such high-level exchanges will increase with the opening of the Embassy and would pave way for a visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to the Maldives in the not so distant future.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government, let me take this opportunity to thank the Government and the friendly people of Japan for the most generous support and cooperation extended to the Maldives over the years and most importantly for being a true and a reliable friend. Let me also take this opportunity to reiterate the firm commitment of the Government of Maldives to its relations with Japan.

Before I conclude, let me assure Ambassador Suganuma of our firm commitment and readiness of my staff and I, to working closely with Your Excellency as we strive to strengthen relations between our two countries.

I wish Japan-Maldives relations every success.

Domo arigatogozaimasu (thank you very much)