Celebration of the Birthday of His Majesty The Emperor of Japan
Thank you, Consul General, for your kind introduction.
Premier; Chief Justice; Members of the Executive Council of Queensland; Lord Mayor; Members and Senators of our Parliaments; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
Kaye and I were delighted to accept the invitation from Mr Tanaka to join this wonderful annual celebration of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
This is the fifth birthday celebration we have had the honour of attending since I was appointed Governor of Queensland in 2014.
In this role, over the past nearly seven years, we have been privileged to experience, on many memorable occasions, the great strength and closeness of the bonds between Japan and Queensland.
These close ties have never been more apparent than in the past year when the relationship continued to prosper, despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic virtually eliminated international tourism to and from Japan and Australia, and severely curtailed long-standing successes such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme.
The strength of the Japan-Queensland relationship is due in no small part to our shared spirit of enterprise and ingenuity.
This spirit was exemplified last year by two particularly pleasing achievements – the first ever virtual Queensland trade mission to Japan, and the first exports to Japan of Queensland-grown Kabocha pumpkins, making Queensland a major new source of one of the important staples of traditional Japanese cuisine.
We also recognised in 2020, with pride, the 35th anniversary of the important Sister City relationship between Brisbane and Kobe.
These annual celebrations of the Emperor’s birthday are another cherished aspect of the Japan-Queensland connection.
These events are a great tribute to the work done by the Consulate-General here in Brisbane, and by the Consular Office in Cairns, to promote better understanding and closer links.
They also provide Queensland a formal opportunity to honour the dignified and gracious service of His Majesty The Emperor, who has been a source of stability and optimism for the Japanese people since his ascension.
I congratulate and thank all concerned for their ongoing commitment to cementing the bonds between Japan and Queensland.
I further thank the Consul-General and Mrs Tanaka for their warm hospitality this evening.
I look forward to shortly proposing a toast to His Majesty and, next week, to sharing my enthusiasm for this very important relationship with Ambassador Yamagami when he calls at Government House.