Your Excellency Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, Ladies ‎and Gentlemen:‎

I thank you, Excellency, for the kind sentiments that you just ‎expressed about me, and about the Maldives.‎

Before proceeding any further, I wish to thank you, and your ‎government and the friendly people of Japan, for the very warm ‎welcome and generous hospitality that you have extended to me and ‎the members of my delegation since our arrival in the great city of ‎Tokyo. ‎

I am extremely happy to visit Japan on your invitation, and to ‎observe the nation’s rich culture and to admire the technological ‎advancement achieved by its industrious and friendly people. It is an ‎honour for me to be the very first Maldivian Head of State to visit ‎Japan on the invitation of the Japanese Government. This visit, ‎therefore, symbolizes the close friendship and cooperation between ‎our two countries, since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1967. ‎It is also a reaffirmation of our joint commitment to advance our ‎bilateral ties in the time ahead.‎

May I congratulate you, Excellency, on your sagacious ‎leadership and the tremendous advancements that Japan has ‎continued to make since your re-assumption of office in December of ‎‎2012.‎


Japan has, in the post-independence era of the Maldives, been ‎the most generous development partner for the country. Our ‎bilateral relations have been founded on mutual understanding, deep ‎respect and reciprocity in global exchanges. Japan’s place in our ‎contemporary history is unprecedented. Successive governments of ‎Japan have focused on further strengthening ties with the Maldives, ‎and Japan continues to be our biggest bilateral donor in ‎development. A cumulative total of nearly USD 300 million has been ‎extended by the Japanese Government as Overseas Development ‎Assistance to the Maldives, so far.‎

Our relationship has stood the test of time, with tourist arrival ‎numbers to the Maldives from Japan remaining consistently strong ‎over thirty years at approximately 40,000 per annum. I understand ‎that the Maldives has, yet again this year, been selected by the ‎Japanese people as their “dream destination”.‎

Japan’s contribution to the socioeconomic development of the ‎Maldives has indeed been pioneering: ‎

‎ In our fisheries sector, Japan’s Marubeni Corporation and ‎their subsidiary Hoko Fisheries took their place as the very first ‎exporters of chilled raw tuna from the Maldives back in 1970. ‎

‎ Modern satellite communications began in the Maldives with ‎the installation of a Satellite Earth Station and International ‎Switching Centre in 1976, by NEC and Mitsui of Japan.‎

Modern primary schools in the capital Male’ were built during ‎the years of visionary leadership of my brother, Former President ‎His Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, by Taisei Corporation of ‎Japan, with the generous assistance of the Japanese Government. ‎

‎ The security of enhanced coastal protection for the capital ‎Male’ was established in the 1990s by Japan, which subsequently ‎saved the city during the 2004 Asian Tsunami. ‎

‎ Furthermore, Japan’s response to our appeal for assistance in ‎recovery and reconstruction after the Tsunami was the most ‎comprehensive of all our development partners.‎

The respect, admiration and love for the Japanese people in the ‎hearts of every Maldivian came to the fore on hearing the tragic news ‎of the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on 11 ‎March 2011. Our people rallied to provide, even if a mere token ‎gesture, our support and solidarity in the hour of distress for the ‎Japanese people. Maldivian tuna cans – a popular delicacy in Japan – ‎were donated in thousands by ordinary Maldivians, to be dispatched ‎to the affected areas in Japan.‎

Any account of Maldives-Japan cooperation will not be ‎complete without acknowledgement of the long-standing technical ‎support of JOCV and JICA. Over 300 volunteers and experts have so ‎far been dispatched to the Maldives over the years, and nearly 1000 ‎Maldivians were trained under various schemes and initiatives. It is a ‎pleasant coincidence that two members of my delegation – Tourism ‎Minister Ahmed Adheeb and Economic Development Minister ‎Mohamed Saeed had benefited from such training during early stages ‎of their careers.‎

Finally, I note with deep satisfaction that trade and commercial ‎ties between our two countries have shown steady growth in recent ‎years. While exports to Japan have almost doubled over the past ‎three years, imports to the Maldives from Japan too have indicated ‎sustained growth. This, however, remains an area of focus for further ‎improvement in the time ahead. I am hopeful that the Maldives ‎Investment Forum and the Maldives Tourism Promotion Reception, ‎scheduled for tomorrow, will contribute to strengthening relations in ‎areas of trade, investment and tourism.‎


From human resources to environmental protection, ‎sustainable fisheries to modern communications and broadcasting, ‎humanitarian assistance to post-tsunami recovery and ‎reconstruction, sports cooperation and youth empowerment, ‎Japanese assistance to the Maldives and contributions to national ‎development spans the length and breadth of the archipelago. It is ‎likely that, today, there is not a single Maldivian who has benefitted, ‎both directly and indirectly, from support and assistance by Japan.‎

Ladies and Gentlemen:‎

While reminiscing about 26 years of special friendship and ‎committing to a future of sustained and enhanced relations between ‎our two countries, may I request you to join me in a toast:‎

to the health and happiness of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor ‎of Japan, and of His Excellency Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of ‎Japan:‎

to the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly and ‎hospitable people of Japan; and

to everlasting friendship and co-operation between our two ‎Governments and peoples.‎

Thank you!‎