ISLAMABAD-New Japanese Ambassador Kuninori Matsuda on Thursday said that he was committed to enhance Pak-Japan friendship.

Speaking at a reception he hosted for diplomats, politicians and media person here, he said that as the new Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, his aim was to cement the existing friendship between the two countries.

“I can assure you that I am fully committed to further developing our long-standing friendship through various channels, including government, business sectors, cultural organizations and social sectors,” he said.

Kuninori Matsuda said that the two countries had witnessed frequent mutual visits of political leaders of Pakistan and Japan for political dialogue.

“Our Foreign Minister (Taro) Kono visited Pakistan last year, and as you all maybe aware, Pakistan Foreign Minister (Shah Mehmood) Qureshi will visit Japan soon,” he added.

He said that it was the first time that he was assigned to Pakistan in his 37-year career in Japan’s Foreign Service.

“One month has passed since I arrived here, and I find it even more fascinating to work in this country. One of the reasons is Pakistan’s enormously rich history,” he said.

In Japan, Kuninori Matsuda said, almost all the kids were required to take a class of “World History 101” and the Indus Valley Civilization was one of the favorite subjects.

“Therefore, place names, such as Mohenjo-daro and Harappa are familiar to us and attract many Japanese tourists.

We Japanese also value our Buddhist heritage and the Gandhara Buddhist Art is very popular in Japan. Japan-Pakistan Association in Tokyo is even floating an idea of organising Gandhara Art Exhibition in Japan in 2022 when we commemorate the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Japan,” he said.

Speaking of history, Kuninori Matsuda said, “It would be remiss of me not to mention a very important role played by cotton trade in relations between our two countries.

Cotton imported from Pakistan supported Japan’s textile industry in the most difficult time of post-WW2 (World War 2) economic redevelopment. Karachi used to be a household name in Japan as one of the most important port cities for the Japanese economy and it still is in my hometown of Fukui, a textile town.”

It is true, he said, that the Indus Valley Civilization, the Gandhara Art and cotton were three key words to remember when “we talk about our relations; however, we should stand tall and look beyond the past so that Pakistan and Japan can work together to realize rich potentials in our future relations.”

The envoy said taking the opportunity of Prime Minister’s advisor Razak Dawood’s visit last December; many Japanese companies had shown their great interest in making investments in Pakistan.

“To further enhance Japan-Pakistan economic relations, The government of Japan intends to cooperate with the government of Pakistan, with the support of business sectors from both countries, on a wide range of social and economic development which Prime Minister Imran Khan puts high priority,” he said.

Japan, Kuninori Matsuda said, will like to contribute to strengthening Pakistan’s export competitiveness and diversification of exports.

“In terms of cultural and sports exchange, Japan is the host country for 2020 Olympic and Paralympics Games and of course we are all looking forward to seeing Pakistani athletes there, especially Pakistan’s National Field Hockey Teams,” he added.

Speaking of sports, Kuninori Matsuda said: “We shouldn’t forget about cricket. Believe me, there are several cricket teams in Japan and in June of 2019 Japan will host ICC (International Cricket Council) U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier EAP and a winner will qualify for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 in South Africa. Please stay tuned.”

The envoy pledged to continue to his best to further strengthen the friendly and mutually-beneficial relationship between Pakistan and India, working hand in hand.

“I would also like to seize this opportunity to express to all diplomatic missions our sincere gratitude for your support and cooperation,” he remarked.