Reception to Celebrate the Birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan
Minister Hinchliffe, representing the Premier; Minister Furner; Leader of the Opposition; Justice Thomas; Councillor McLachlan representing the Lord Mayor; MPs; Service Chiefs; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
To the Consul-General of Japan in Brisbane, Mr Kazunari Tanaka and Mrs Tanaka, thank you very much for the invitation to join you tonight.
Kaye and I are delighted to be here to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor.
The Emperor’s accession and enthronement last year, marked by ancient rites and ceremonies, inaugurated a new era in Japan, and a new Emperor’s birthday – the 23rd of February.
The last ten months have been a time of change for the Japanese people but also of continuity.
The Queensland-Japan relationship and, more broadly, Australia-Japan ties are part of that stability and continuity, remaining strong and close.
This was wonderfully demonstrated with the deployment to Australia of C-130 aircraft from the Japan Self Defence Forces to assist in relief operations related to the recent destructive bushfires in Australia.
In providing this welcome assistance, the Japanese Government cited Australia’s assistance to Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
These are marvellous examples of good friends helping each other in times of crisis.
I wholeheartedly thank the Japanese Government and the Japanese people for their goodwill and generosity in our time of need.
Looking ahead, we will have the pleasure of witnessing the summer Olympic Games later this year in Japan.
Our Japanese hosts will no doubt dazzle us. Who could forget Prime Minister Abe appearing at the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Games in the guise of computer-game icon Super Mario: a surprise and a delight!
I wish the Japanese people every success in staging the games, though you will forgive me if I also wish Australian competitors every success!
Sport is but one aspect of a bilateral relationship that, while initially centred on trade and investment, has become broader and deeper with time. Indeed, the challenge now is to nominate a sphere of activity in which Australia and Japan do notcollaborate.
The values we share, and every strand of the relationship from the highest political level to the personal, support and build on the relationship every day.
I thank the Consul-General most sincerely for his contributions and those of his staff to these mutually-beneficial Queensland-Japan links.
Kaye and I thank the Consul-General Tanaka and Mrs Tanaka for their warm hospitality here this evening.
I look forward to proposing a toast to the Emperor in a short while.
But for now, on behalf of the people of Queensland, I wish His Majesty a long, happy and prosperous reign. Thank you.