Prince Kako at the National Gallery

His Imperial Highness Prince Kako of Akishino, Japan, as an official guest of the Greek government, was welcomed by the minister at the National Gallery at the ceremony marking the 125th anniversary of Japan-Greece diplomatic relations and the Year of Culture and Tourism. Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogianni and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Papadopoulou.

The declaration of 2024 as the Greece-Japan Year of Culture and Tourism was agreed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida during their official visit to Japan in January 2023.

Greeting Prince Kako, the Minister of Culture said that the Greek government welcomes the representative of a friendly country with which Greece has a strategic relationship, and noted that his visit coincided with a doubly happy event: the completion of 125 years. establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, and at the same time, 2024 was declared “Greece-Japan Year of Culture and Tourism” by the two governments, paying due respect to the rich past, strong present, but above all to the dynamics. the future of relations between the two countries…

“On the map, – said the Minister of Culture, a great distance separates our countries. However, it is only geographical and marked in miles. Lefkadios Hearn, Koizumo Yakumo, while representing Japan in the West, while also interpreting Japan to Westerners, identified the similarities of the Japanese spirit with classical Greek culture, making sure to make it too small” and referred to his thinking. Nikos Kazantzakis noted in his 1938 travelogue that “the face of no country is as similar to the face of Greece as the face of Japan. I dare say that there is no country in the world that reminds us of what ancient Greece was like in its most glorious moments.”

“We know Lina Mendoni, we know Japan’s great love for classical Greek culture. The great attendance at the Venus of Milos exhibition held in Tokyo in 1964 on the occasion of the Olympic Games is an indication of this. Accordingly, Japanese culture is widely known in Greece. We appreciate its sophistication. , we admire his love for beauty and nature, his appeal to art, his respect for traditions and ancestral values. The mutual respect and appreciation of our centuries-old cultures creates a fertile ground for us to direct our relations in new and creative directions our cultures complement each other, so the synergy between us can only bring meaningful and interesting results.”

The Minister of Culture touched on the magnificent modern art exhibition of 170 modern Japanese artists at the National Gallery in 1979 and the “Like Silk” exhibition with the participation of precious Japanese artists a few months ago in Alexandroupolis. silks from his collections at the Corfu Asian Art Museum and Kitagawa Utamaro. And in colorful clouds, giant pumpkins, and Yayoi Kusama’s oh-so-familiar and dear infinity rooms.

In January 2023, the Year of Culture and Tourism in Japan was agreed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida. Japan now hosts a rich program of Greek cultural events, including concerts, plays, exhibitions and lectures. artists of international fame. In this way, the Japanese public will be increasingly exposed to the modern cultural production of Greece, which is gaining international recognition and distinction. Accordingly, events related to Japanese culture are expected in Athens.

“The charm and interest of your culture,” said Lina Mendoni, “lies in its true mixture of archaic and modern values, principles, morals and customs.” The goal of the Greek Ministry of Culture is to expand bilateral cooperation in various fields: in the conservation and restoration of monuments, where the two countries have respectively great experience in various materials, in the protection of cultural heritage from climate change, where Greece has taken initiatives at the national and international level – since both our countries are islands, the rise of the Polynesian sea level at risk – but also cooperates within the protection of UNESCO and world heritage sites, as well as traditional arts and techniques. , interest in this has increased in both countries in recent years.”

Addressing Prince Kako at the end, Lina Mendoni said: “I am particularly happy because during your stay in Greece you chose to visit many important cultural sites in Athens, Salamis and Corfu, which in itself carries a special symbolism. I wish you pleasant holidays in our country. Your presence here is both symbolic and important for the development of Greece-Japan relations. A Japanese proverb says, “There is nothing more precious on earth than true friendship.”

Such a friendship exists between Greece and Japan and is strengthened by visits like yours.”Alexandra Papadopoulou, the adviser to the secretary of foreign affairs, greeted the prince and reminded that on May 20, 1899, the Trade and Shipping Friendship Treaty was signed in Athens between the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Romanos and Makino, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Japanese Embassy, ​​and Japan. Despite the geographical distance, Greece and Japan have developed and deepened their bilateral relations in the political, economic and cultural fields with strong friendship and cooperation.

Alexandra Papadopoulou said: “We are countries with a long history, we have a characteristic that inspires mutual respect and understanding. At the same time, we have common fundamental values ​​and principles, democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, free economy, which have become the property of our societies and citizens. That is why we are a firm and consistent supporter of the need to fully respect international law and the international multilateral spirit without exception, and we work tirelessly and selflessly in this direction.”

The Deputy Minister further emphasized the strong and continued presence of Greece and Japan, which constitute the pillars of stability and security in two sensitive regions, the Pacific and the Eastern Mediterranean. And how closely related security and defense issues are. “For us, said the deputy minister, Japan’s support plays an important role, as it does for the European Union and NATO, which is one of the oldest members of Greece. The enhancement of our strategic relations opens up new horizons of cooperation and will ultimately bring many benefits to the citizens of our countries. In particular, we note with understanding and satisfaction the remarkable opportunities for the continuous development of our economic and trade relations, as well as the expansion of the scope of cooperation in the fields of green energy, defense, security and tourism. “Shipping, of course, remains an area of ​​partnership throughout time, thanks to the important maritime traditions and the presence of our two states.”

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that “we live in a world where the certainties of the post-war era tend to disappear, where technology neutralizes distances and rapidly transforms the economy mainly through Technological Intelligence, where climate change is not a threat. to the future, but it’s already here. In this world, Greece and Japan, by being fully aware of their history and respecting it, we assume our responsibility to the present and future generations. Strengthening bilateral relations serves this purpose and is therefore our historical duty.

Prince Kako welcomed and expressed his pleasure to visit Greece for the first time after the kind invitation of the Greek government and thanked everyone who contributed to the realization of his visit.

In addition to long maritime traditions, Japan and Greece share many common morphological features, such as the sea and scattered islands, as well as common cultural elements such as the very important healthy diet based on seafood, he said. It is a fact that the rare monumental wealth of the country attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world. The Japanese admire Greece for its culture and culture. After my arrival yesterday, I visited the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. I marveled at the architectural excellence of the Parthenon, marveling at the majesty and elegance of this magnificent achievement built 2,500 years ago. I am truly grateful to have been given the opportunity to gain such a unique experience.”

He then said that the wisdom of the ancient Greeks is taught in different ways in Japanese schools and especially in social and natural science and math classes. And it was mentioned in Aesop’s Fables, which was translated into Japanese about 400 years ago. “On the occasion of my visit to Greece, he said, I re-read Aesop’s fables like “The North and the Sun” after a few years and realized that ancient Greek culture continues to inspire Japan to this day. .”

He then touched on Japan-Greece relations in various fields of art, letters and sports. He noted that he will visit the Museum of Asian Art in Corfu, where a large number of works of Japanese artists are exhibited, Japan’s help in restoring the valuable frescoes of the Faneromeni monastery in Salamina, and the Panhellenic Gymnastics Association together with the Japanese. The sport of judo.

“It should be noted that when he visited Japan last January with the wife of the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Mitsotakis, he met with my parents and they discussed a wide range of issues, including the exchange between the sister cities of Greece. Japan was a huge success. This year, in addition to the 125th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we also celebrate the Japan-Greece Year of Culture and Tourism, during which various events are planned in both countries throughout the year, for example, a theater performance in Greece. In Japan, accordingly, there will be a photo exhibition on the theme of Greece. I hope that these events will expand mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries.”

He concluded that “although the time of my visit is limited, I would like to get to know a part of the charming Greece, as well as meet the ordinary citizens living in this country. I wish you all health, success, prosperity and happiness to the people of Greece. I look forward to deepening the friendship between Japan and Greece.”

After the speeches, a Byzantine psalm and three Greek songs were performed by the Athens Chamber Choir of the National Opera. During a dinner in honor of Culture Minister Akishinos Prince Kako and his entourage, which was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandra Papadopoulos, the prince expressed his admiration for the statues, the Parthenon, and more. songs listened to.

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