A “trusted partnership” — these are the words that Prime Minister Sanna Marin repeated during her visit to Japan in May. She described the Finnish relationship with Japan in this way at a summit meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a meeting with business leaders and during her speech at the University of Tokyo.
I totally agree with Marin. Japan and Finland are “trusted partners.” Our two countries share fundamental values, such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. This is particularly important at a time when democracies are being challenged in today’s world. We must be united and work together.
In fact, cooperation and exchanges between our countries are ongoing in a wide variety of fields under the good relations between Japan and Finland.
For example, in the area of science and technology, a memorandum of understanding was signed in May on cooperation between the Japanese supercomputer Fugaku and its Finnish counterpart Lumi, which means snow in Finnish. It is an elegant name well-suited for this country, isn’t it? Also, in October, the CEO of Business Finland attended an international conference on science and technology in Kyoto. In addition, business projects related to artificial intelligence are underway.
Another field for exchange and cooperation is defense and security. At Marin’s summit with Kishida, security was an important agenda item. In September and October, Finland’s top foreign and defense officials visited Japan to meet their Japanese counterparts, with Finland still in the midst of the process of joining NATO.
However, trust is cultivated also through people-to-people exchanges. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded many of our activities over the past three years, but the embassy has since resumed various exchange events under Finland- Japan Friendship Year 2022 to further promote our bilateral friendship.
As part of this, we are holding photo exhibitions all over Finland on the theme of “Friendship between Finns and Japanese.” In addition, alumni events for former exchange students who studied in Japan have been organized under the Sakura-Kielo (Lily of the Valley) Gathering, highlighting the cherry blossom and the lily of the valley as our national flowers. In the meantime, Helsinki is currently hosting Japanese woodblock print and calligraphy exhibitions.
Since I arrived in Finland in April, I have noticed that both of our countries are full of beautiful nature, fashionable designs and sophisticated architecture. The events mentioned above also convey the idea that our mindsets are quite similar.
This enables us to be trusted partners in various fields and I would like to further develop our relationship. To that end, we must cherish the “trusted partnership” between our two countries and further enhance it.