The third visit by a member of the Imperial Family, Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino of Japan’s visit to Bhutan signifies the long history of close bilateral relations between Japan and Bhutan.

In the 31 years since Bhutan and Japan established diplomatic ties, friendship and cooperation between the two countries have grown and evolved into an important bond. The two countries share and enjoy close ties at the highest level, the political, and between its peoples.

Japan’s continued assistance to the agricultural sector where it works closely with our farmers and infrastructure development has helped in the country’s socioeconomic development. Japan remains an important development partner to Bhutan, and our leaders have always acknowledged the support it has rendered to us.

His Majesty the King’s invitation and Her Imperial Highness’s visit to the country, two decades after the last visit by her parents, strengthens this bond that the two countries have nurtured and shared over the years. The monarchy is a symbol of unity, tradition and continuity. Her Imperial Highness’s visit and the visit by His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen to Japan following the earthquake in 2011, while strengthening historical ties that were forged decades ago remind an evolving society of the changes our countries have gone through.

Between 1987 and 2013, there have been 16 high level visits from Japan to Bhutan while Bhutan has made 45 high level visits to Japan between 1986 and 2016 according to Japan’s foreign affairs ministry. As of 2014, there are 118 Japanese residing in Bhutan and 61 Bhutanese in Japan. Last year, a total of 4,833 Japanese visited the country and Japan is among the top three markets for Bhutan’s tourism sector. Besides the strong relationship, these numbers indicate the level of trust the people of the two countries share.

Her Imperial Highness’s visit to Bhutan is an expression of this friendship and cooperation that the two countries share. The Japan Week 2017 in Bhutan has begun and during her stay in the country, Her Imperial Highness will, among others, attend the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition. At the reception yesterday in Thimphu, Her Imperial Highness said: “I hope that this event will provide an opportunity for the people of Bhutan to feel close to Japan.”

Our historical ties have shown that such events and visits between Bhutan and Japan have always brought the two countries and its people closer. We value such relations with our good friends.