Opening Ceremony and Gala Reception of the 150 Years of Friendship between Japan and Belgium

On 19 January, the Opening Ceremony of the 150 Years of Friendship between Japan and Belgium was held at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. The State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Yoji Muto attended as the representative for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. On the Belgian side, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Mr. Didier Reynders. The speeches of the two representatives were followed by a speech by Friendship Ambassador Mr. Van Rompuy and a lecture concerning Japanese-Belgian history by Professor Vande Walle. The opening ceremony was followed by a gala reception, which opened with the gagaku traditional music performance by Kita no Dai. Afterwards, speeches were held by Chamber of Representatives President Mr. Bracke, Ambassador Ishii, BJA Chairman Mr. Declerck and Nihonjinkai President Mr. Waki. Mr. Muto, Mr. Reynders and Mr. Van Rompuy participated in the ceremonial breaking of a sake barrel. Representatives from both countries’ governmental, economic, cultural and educational fields, among others, attended the reception, and it became a gorgeous opening of a celebratory year.