06, 2012

Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at the Soka University of Tokyo

I am glad to have this meeting with the faculty and students of the Soka University, and I am grateful for awarding me the title of the Honorary Doctor.

First, on behalf of the entire Armenian nation, I would like to express our deepest condolences on the tragic consequences of last year’s earthquake and tsunami. Twenty-five years ago, Armenia went through a similar catastrophe, and we fully understand and share the grief and pain of the Japanese people. In those days, Japan was among the first to lend a helping hand, providing much needed humanitarian assistance. Last year, at the dire for Japan moment, Armenia responded to this tragedy by participating in the elimination of the consequences of the disaster. Passing through the difficult stages of the reconstruction of the affected districts, we better than anyone else, comprehend the enormity of the works which your government has to carry out.

We are impressed with the efficiency which is demonstrated by the people of Japan in eliminating the consequences of the disaster. We have no doubt that Japan will overcome all problems and will emerge from this calamity even stronger.

Armenia, which like Japan has an ancient history and rich cultural heritage, was for centuries deprived of statehood. Twenty years ago, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we declared independence and Japan was among the first countries we established diplomatic relations with. In these twenty years, we have constantly felt the friendly support of the people and Government of Japan; your country has been helping us benevolently to overcome social and economic difficulties of the transition period. Such support was once provided in the framework of the Official Support for Development program which allowed to implement the targeted projects in the areas of economy, culture and many others. Our country holds special respect for Japan whose people through the centuries have been preserving their rich cultural heritage and traditions, also have been actively participating in the preservation of the world cultural heritage.

Your country is an example of the state which as a result of the implemented strategy of a proper prioritization of education, science and culture has achieved enormous success, attaining a well-deserved place among the leading countries of the world.

The Armenian-Japanese relations are not limited to the last twenty years. Back in the times of the Silk Road, the produce and products of the Armenian craftsmen were well-known on the markets of Japan. In 17th-18th centuries, Armenian vessels were traveling from Iran and India, reaching the Eastern seaports of Asia. It is also know, that in the mid-19th century, the commercial fleet which belonged to the family of Abgar from Calcutta, was conducted regular voyages between Culcutta and Yokogama, Kobe, and Nagasaki seaports in Japan, as well as to Singapore and Hong Kong. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, in different cities of Japan the families of Abgar, Papazian and Aghabekian manufacturers established their enterprises. Mrs. Diana Abgar, the most prominent member of the Abgar dynasty, in 1918, after Armenia had declared independence, became the first Honorary Consul of Armenia to Japan.
The memorable events in the Armenian-Japanese historical connections go on and on, however I would like to underscore that our contemporary cooperation becomes more multifaceted, encompassing areas such as, for instance, architecture. We looking forward to the construction in the center of Yerevan of a new architectural complex which is authored by the winner of an international contest, Japanese architect Arai.

Armenia has always taken interest in the affluent Japanese culture, in its ancient arts such as painting, architecture and literature, familiarization with which took place predominantly in the 1990s of the previous century through the centers established in Armenia for the studies of the Japanese language, literature and arts, as well as through the departments of the Japanese studies in our universities. The army of the young Armenians taking classes of the renowned Japanese martial arts is also on the rise.

The twentieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Japan will be celebrated by many events. This jubilee is an excellent opportunity for our nations to learn even more about each other. This year, the capital of Armenia – Yerevan was declared by UNESCO the Book Capital of the World and, at the same time, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Armenian printing. It is my pleasure to invite you all to Armenia. I am confident it will be an exiting and memorable journey.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again thank the Soka University for this honor, and I am hopeful that our relations in the areas of education and culture will continue to develop for the benefit of our two nations.

Thank you.

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