© Ayako Suzuki

MEXT Minister highlights importance of collaboration at the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Switzerland

The Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Dr. Masahito Moriyama, gave the congratulatory speech at a celebratory event organized by the Embassy of Switzerland on February 6, the date the two countries made their friendship official 160 years ago.

On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan held an evening of celebration for the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Switzerland. On that same date, 160 years ago, a Treaty of Amity and Trade was signed between the Swiss watchmaker Aimé Humbert-Droz and the Shogunate’s Foreign Minister Takemoto Kai-no-Kami. Since then, Japan and Switzerland have kept close bilateral ties and are working together to strengthen them further. In the research and innovation field, one perfect example of such efforts is the recent signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Prof. Dr. Martina Hirayama, and the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Dr. Masahito Moriyama. This new MoC, signed last October, aims to reinforce research and innovation cooperation between the two countries.

The gathering hosted at the Swiss Residence welcomed almost 300 guests from all horizons. Among them, highly distinguished guests from the science and technology landscape honored the event with their presence. The MEXT Minister, Dr. Masahito Moriyama, was accompanied by the Science and Technology Advisor to the Minister and President of the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST), Prof. Dr. Shigeo Koyasu, the Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Mr. Hiroshi Masuko, the Director General of the Science and Technology Policy Bureau, Dr. Yasuyoshi Kakita, and the Assistant Minister and Director-General for International Affairs, Mr. Masami Watanabe. The Science and Technology Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Prof. Dr. Yoichiro Matsumoto, was also present. To name a few more, the President of the Japan Aerospace Exploratory Agency (JAXA), Prof. Dr. Hiroshi Yamakawa, the President of the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), Prof. Dr. Yoshinao Mishima, the President of Research Organization of Information and Systems (ROIS), Prof. Dr. Masaru Kitsuregawa, as well as, the President of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Prof. Dr. Hideyuki Tokuda, the President of Keio University, Prof. Dr. Kohei Itoh, and the President of Sophia University, Prof. Dr. Yoshiaki Terumichi, also joined the festivities.

The event started with an opening speech by the Ambassador of Switzerland to Japan, Dr. Andreas Baum, narrating the story of the past 160 years of bilateral relations and foreseeing a bright and promising future for the Swiss-Japanese friendship. Minister Moriyama then took the stage to deliver the congratulatory speech of the evening. After warmly thanking the Ambassador for the invitation to this unique gathering, he continued by emphasizing the importance of international collaboration across regions of like-minded countries, mentioning the signing of the MoC as an opportunity to further promote partnerships in science and technology between Switzerland and Japan. As part of his ministry jurisdiction duties, the high value of inter-university and international student exchanges was underlined as one of the foundations supporting the ties between the two countries. He concluded by wishing Switzerland peace and prosperity, and addressed his strong wish for further developments in the relationship between Switzerland and Japan. The ceremony closed with a toast from Mr. Seishiro Eto, President of the Japan-Switzerland Parliamentary Friendship League.

The event moved on to neo-traditional music performances that the guests could enjoy while eating delectable Swiss raclette cheese served by the Roboclette, a cheese scraping robot. The evening was filled with cheers and joy in the snowy scenery, marking yet another significant jubilee for Switzerland and Japan.