President David Granger: His Excellency Mitsuhiko Okada and Mrs. Okada; former President of Guyana Mr Samuel Hinds, members of the Diplomatic Corps, honorary consuls, distinguished guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen:

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is pleased to extend congratulations and best wishes to His Imperial Majesty Akihito on the occasion of his 83rd birth anniversary. We join with the people of Japan in celebrating this auspicious event. We wish His Majesty continued health and happiness. We are confident that he will continue to rule his country with prudence and wisdom.

The State of Japan remains under his guidance, an important member of the community of nations. Guyana and Japan established formal diplomatic relations on the 11th of June 1969. Relations between our two countries have blossomed over the last 47 years. Japan is an important development partner for Guyana; relations have been to our mutual benefit. Guyana has benefited from Japanese assistance in a wide range of areas including education, empowerment of youth, the environment, especially flood control; renewable energy generation, public health, public infrastructure, and water management.

Our relations have strengthened since the enthronement of His Majesty Akihito.

Your Excellency, we signed the Joint Declaration on Enhanced Cooperation on Environment and Climate Change issues between Japan and the Republic of Guyana nine years ago. The Declaration identified climate change, sustainable forest management and water and sanitation as priority areas for cooperation. Guyana is pleased that since then cooperation in the areas of electricity, conservancy management, disaster preparedness, skills training, solid waste management, water and youth development has been the cornerstone of our relations between our two countries.

Excellency, Guyana is on the way to establishing a green state with emphasis on protection of our environment, the preservation of our biodiversity, the provision of eco-tourism and eco-educational services and the promotion of practical measures to ensure climate adaptation. We are committed to placing an additional two million hectares of our country under conservation.

We are committed also to low carbon, low emission trajectory development. Guyana looks forward to the support of Japan in the defense of the principles of international law, particularly respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of small states, non-interference in the internal affairs of states and the right of all states to develop free from aggression and threats of aggression.

I extend respectful birthday greetings to His Majesty Emperor Akihito and being a grateful host and a gracious host, I will not toast in El Dorado Rum, but I will ask you to join me in raising a toast in sake to the continued health and happiness and wellbeing of His Majesty.

Thank you.

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