Remarks

By President J. Ramos-Horta on the occasion of the

Friendly Visit of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Ship MURASAME,

Reception hosted

By the Ambassador of Japan

To Timor-Leste

Dili, 12TH APRIL 2024

Excellency Ambassador KIMURA Tetsuya Navy Captain Kawano Kunihiko, Commander of the Escort Division One,

Excellencies:

Konbanwa, soshite yökoso

Domo arigato gozaimasu Ambassador KIMURA-SAN…Sasotte kurete…for those of you who cannot speak Japanese I repeat in English…thank you very much Ambassador

Kimura-san for inviting me… to join you all this evening to extend our warmest welcome to the Navy Captain Kawano Kunihiko, Commander of the Escort Division One, and all officers and sailors of Japanese navy ship MURASAME of the Japanese Maritime SeIf-Defense Force.

Feel at home, be at home, among friends. Here in Timor-Leste we share with you our modest conditions, we give you better food than we usually consume, you eat first, we eat last, we give you shelter from bad weather, from winds and storms. Around us there are no hostile armies or navies, our neighbours are old friends and family. Stay as long as you need and desire.

I have lost count of the number of times I visited your extraordinary country, crisscrossing by bullet train and car from Tokyo, to Hiroshima, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kure-shi, Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Okinawa, Senday, Nikko. My favorite was Nikko, a small town in the mountains north of Tokyo. It is the site of Toshogu, the famed Shinto shrine established in 1617 as a memorial for Tokugawa Leyasu, founding ruler of the Tokugawa shogunate, or Edo Period. On the theme of Culture and Arts Japan is mesmerizingly, endlessly rich.

Our shared values are deeply rooted in values of democracy, individual freedoms and liberties, respect for human rights and Rule of Law.

The relationship between our two countries continues to grow, our shared values ensure that we will remain close partners and friends, striving together to enhance multilateral institutions and International Law, and contributing to global peace.

Japan played crucial role in the restoration of peace and stability in Timor-Leste as far back as 1999. At our darkest moments, Japan was an unwavering partner. The first donor conference for Timor-Leste was held

in Tokyo in December 1999. In total over $520 million dollars were pledged, and Japan alone pledged over US$28 million. The Conference was followed by the establishment of JICA office in 2000.

An important Japanese military engineer group arrived in Timor-Leste in 2002 and 690 soldiers were eployed in sensitive areas of the territory: Covalima, Maliana, Oe-cusse Ambeno and our capital, Dili. At the end of their mission, the Government of Japan decided to donate the construction equipment to the Government of TimorLeste.

Japan remains one of our top development partners. In December 2023, Prime Minister Xanana and Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio met at the sideline of the Commemorative Summit of the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. The two leaders agreed to further promote our bilateral relationship by elevating it from “Advanced Partnership towards Growth and Prosperity” to “Comprehensive Partnership towards Sustainable Growth and Development”.

Timor-Leste is grateful for Japan’s consistent support for our ASEAN membership, through capacity building, namely with JICA’s Experts in helping TimorLeste realizing the provisions of the Road Map.

Let me highlight some of Japan’s commitments with Timor-Leste at bilateral level:

  1. Assistance in human resources development;
  2. Strengthening assistance in such areas as infrastructure development, economic diversification and social services delivery;
  3. Assistance in maritime safety and
  4. Defense cooperation through the participation of the Self Defense Forces of Japan in capacity building called “Hari Hamutuk” and training of F-FDTL officials at the National Defense Academy of Japan.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão and Prime Minister Kishida decided to further promote defense and maritime cooperation between our two countries.

I take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan and member countries for their continuing support towards this milestone.

As a small country, Timor-Leste remains a firm believer in multilateral mechanisms to settle differences among States.

The 2018 Permanent Maritime Boundary

Agreement between Australia and Timor-Leste is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of international mechanisms in peaceful and win-win settlement of differences.

In closing, I would like to express, once again, my heartfelt appreciation to Ambassador KIMURA Tetsuya and esteemed espouse Mme Kimura for inviting me and members of our Govt and National Parliament to this wonderful reception to welcome the Navy Captain Kawano Kunihiko and his officers and sailors.

Let’s raise our glasses to the eternal friendship between the peoples of Timor-Leste and Japan.

End