On the 23rd of December 2013, His Majesty will be 80 years old. The Imperial House of Japan is one of the oldest monarchies in the world with the long history of about 2,700 years.

And His Majesty the Emperor Akihito is the 125th Emperor of Japan, the latest in the oldest continuing line of hereditary monarchy in the world. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress have brought the Imperial Family even closer to the people of Japan and have travelled many countries promoting friendship and goodwill among the peoples in the world. Their Majesties visited Pakistan in 1962 as then Crown Prince and Princess.

The year 2013 was a historical year for Pakistan. The general election was held on 11th of May and the new governments in Federal and Provincial levels were established in Pakistan and the prospect for the good future is now highly expected.

The Consulate-General of Japan in Karachi has conducted various activities in 2013. As for events, I hosted a reception to commemorate the second anniversary of Japan earthquake in March and a gathering for JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) participants in August. We organised “Japan Cultural Week” twice in March and in October and held such cultural events as Ikebana flower arrangement workshop, martial arts demonstration and Japanese film festival, etc. I delivered lectures six times this year on such topics as “Bilateral Relations between Japan and Pakistan” and “Japanese Educational System”.

Since 1954, Japan has been extending its ODA to Pakistan. The schemes of cooperation range from technical cooperation to grant aid and ODA loans in various sectors like health, education, environment, water supply, agriculture, transportation, infrastructure and so on. The cumulative amount of ODA from Japan to Pakistan up to Year 2011 is about $6.42 billion (3.90 billion of Yen Loan, 2.08 billion of grant aid and 0.44 billion of technical assistance).

Japan has a scheme called “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP)” to support small-scale development projects to meet the basic human needs of the local people. Japan has granted more than 200 assistances to Pakistan through this scheme to date and the Consulate-General of Japan in Karachi has so far implemented 10 projects since 2009. In 2013, the Consulate-General of Japan has committed to two projects, namely “The Project for the Improvement of the Eye Hospital in the District Badin, Sindh” and “The Project for the Deployment of Aman Advanced Life Support Ambulances in Bin Qasim Town, Karachi”. The latter project is the first case of public-private partnership between the Consulate-General of Japan and Indus Motors Company Limited.

I would like to mention that on September 7, Tokyo was elected as the host city of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are very happy that Tokyo was chosen as the host city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. And we are determined to make the event a success. Another highlight of this year was that Fujisan (Mt. Fuji) and Washoku (Japanese cuisine) were inscribed as world tangible and intangible cultural heritage respectively. It is expected that these inscriptions together with Japanese natural beauty and hospitality will further promote tourism in Japan.

From September 26 to 29, “Expo Pakistan” was held at Expo Centre. The “Japan Pavilion”, introducing Japanese products was set up at the Expo Pakistan. From September 28 to October 2, the Japanese business mission dispatched by JETRO visited Pakistan.

The setting-up of the Japan Pavilion at the Expo Pakistan and the visit of the Japanese business people to Pakistan are expected to further promote trade and investment between Japan and Pakistan in the future. I wish the economic relations, cultural interchange and people-to-people exchange between Japan and Pakistan will be further promoted and I, as the Consul-General of Japan in Karachi, will make every effort to achieve these goals.

Finally, I would like to introduce the activities done by the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) of the Consulate-General of Japan. The JICC has a library, an exhibition hall and a reading room for Pakistani people to get to know about Japan.

We organise various cultural events such as film shows, exhibitions, flower arrangement workshops, etc. at the Center. We also issue “Japan Information Bulletin” three times a year. We have “Niponica”, a magazine about Japanese culture and other publications available at the Center. I hope many Pakistani people will visit JICC and become the members of the Library of the Center and utilize the facilities and get to know more about Japan. There are websites of the Consulate-General of Japan (http://www.kr.pk.emb-japan.go.jp/), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and there is a Web-site called “Web Japan” where you can get information on Japan and the Japanese people. As for information on Japan’s foreign policy, the Web-site called “Discuss Japan - Japan Foreign Policy Forum” is available.–Akira Ouchi is Consul-General of Japan in Karachi.