AN EMPEROR’S birthday celebration. It must be lavish, no less, fitting for a man of his stature. The Japanese monarch’s celebration extended across the globe. In Davao City, the Consulate General of Japan lead by Consul General Yoshiaki Miwa hosted the National Day reception to celebrate the Emperor Naruhito’s birthday. It was a well-attended affair with dignitaries, government officials, Japanese and local businessmen, the academe and the Davao Consular Corps present.

The Consul General said the occasion was extraordinary for a couple of reasons. First, it was the first National Day reception under the new Imperial era of Reiwa, meaning “Beautiful Harmony.” Second, it was the first celebration hosted by their office after it was upgraded to a full-fledged Consulate General of Japan in Davao in 2019.

In his welcome note, ConGen Miwa also shared the office’s achievements in 2019, which included the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Davao Japanese community as the highlight. It was a three-day festivity that focused on business, tourism, food and culture.

Aside from the assurance that Japan will continue to support President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program in the Davao area, Miwa announced another uplifting news: Japanese travel advisory has categorized several more areas in Mindanao, like Digos, Tagum, Butuan, Surigao and more, as level 1, the same level as the cities of Davao, General Santos and CDO. Japanese nationals can now enjoy visiting these areas. The revised travel advisory of the Japanese ministry is essential to promote direct investment of Japanese companies and tourism.

Mayor Sara Duterte, sending her message through Councilor Antoinette Princepe-Castrodes, proposed a toast, “The beautiful harmony has lead to numerous promising engagements both in our homeland and yours. That journey cannot be truly accomplished if not for the invaluable efforts and strong determination of His Majesty, Emperor Naruhito, to sustain confidence and optimism of Japan and its relationship with the Philippines. Words cannot truly express how we in Davao City appreciate the endeavors of Japan for the progress of the Dabawenyos. The people of Davao have nothing but well wishes for his good health, lasting joy and long life.”

Guests raised their glasses and sipped sparkling sake from fluted glasses. It was one of the six varieties of wine and sake flown in from Japan for the evening’s celebration.

A special event like this has to be matched with special food. Various sushi was prepared using Koshi Hikari, a special rice brought in in from the Niigita Prefecture in Japan.

“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your continued support and cooperation in furthering the strong friendship between Japan and the Philippines,” expressed Miwa.

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