Japan Self-Defence Forces Day observed

A group photo of Japanese ambassador’s wife Rieko Kurai with spouses of other envoys during the Japan Self-Defence Day reception in Islamabad.
A group photo of Japanese ambassador’s wife Rieko Kurai with spouses of other envoys during the Japan Self-Defence Day reception in Islamabad.

The Embassy of Japan hosted a glamorous reception at Serena to celebrate the Japan Self-Defence Forces Day. The event was attended by Pakistani government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps and luminaries of Islamabad.

Speaking at the event, the Japanese ambassador said: “This year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries and we are celebrating the 63rd anniversary of our defence forces. The history of our bilateral relations is longer than that of our post-war defence forces.”

Japan Self-Defence Forces Day celebrates the establishment of the Japan Defence Agency and the inauguration of the Japan Ground, Maritime and Air Self Defence Forces on July 1, 1954. The Japan Defence Agency was upgraded to the Ministry of Defence in 2007.

Often engaged in relief activities for people affected by disasters, the guiding principle of the Japanese Defence Forces is “to serve the people always comes first”.

Japan and Pakistan have been cooperating closely in international disaster relied activities and counter-piracy operations in the waters off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden though Combined Task Force 151.

Guests at the event in Serena were also shown a documentary on Japan’s security forces’ relief operations across the world during the last year.

Scandinavian national days celebrated

Ambassador Tore Nedrebo and his wife Anne Dessingthon welcome guests on the Norwegian 
National Day at their residence in Islamabad.
Ambassador Tore Nedrebo and his wife Anne Dessingthon welcome guests on the Norwegian National Day at their residence in Islamabad.

Two Scandinavian neighbours celebrated their national days one after the other this year, with Norway celebrating the actual signing of the constitution in 1814 on May 17 and Sweden on May 18, quite a bit ahead of its national day on June 6, which was earlier known as the Day of the Swedish Flag.

In her speech, Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Johansson underlined the importance of good trade relations between Pakistan and her country and thanked the dozen or so Swedish companies attending the garden party where Federal Minister of Industries Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi was invited as chief guest.

The Norwegian ambassador, Tore Nedrebo focused his speech on human rights issues, noting that May 17 coincides with the International Day against Homophobia, Tans-phobia and Bi-phobia.

He said his embassy had recently moved to offices in the Serena Business Complex and that they are waiting for the new building in the Diplomatic Enclave to be completed, which will take some four to five years, and the building will be shared by the Scandinavian neighbours.

A local band by the name of ‘Sakin’ entertained guests with modern tunes but it seemed the band had not rehearsed enough as it did not do justice to Norwegian songs nor to the Pakistani national anthem.

Portuguese national day

Ambassador Joao Paulo Sabido Costa, Federal Minister Kamran Machael and other guests cut the ceremonial cake on the Portuguese National Day in Islamabad.
Ambassador Joao Paulo Sabido Costa, Federal Minister Kamran Machael and other guests cut the ceremonial cake on the Portuguese National Day in Islamabad.

Ambassador Jao Paulo Sabido Costa and his wife held a reception to celebrate the Portuguese National Day. The chief guest at the occasion was Federal Minister for Human Rights Kamran Michael, who was just back from a visit to Portugal, where he held audience with Pope Francis as well

In his speech, the Portuguese envoy talked about the excellent relations between his country and Pakistan and the potential for expanding and deepening relations, especially in trade and industry.

Portuguese is taught in Pakistan, supported by the Portuguese and Brazilian embassies. A teacher from the University of Punjab in Lahore, Ana Maria Carvalho Borges de Sousa, attended the reception with a group of students. She first came to Pakistan as a diplomat but has now settled here as a private citizen, and in the friendly way typical of members of the Latino community, she said loved the new homeland but admitted she was a poor student of Urdu language. One of her students, Faisal Aleem, in the friendliest Pakistan style, added that she was indeed a good teacher.

—Text and photos by Syeda Shehrbano Kazim, Atle Hetland, Shahbaz Chaudary & Online

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2017