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Franco-Japanese relations

Published on June 11, 2013
Japan/state dinner – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Tokyo, June 8, 2013

Your Imperial Majesty,

Madam,

Thank you for the warmth of your welcome and the words of greeting you have just said. By receiving me this evening, you honour the whole French people. Allow me to express in turn France’s respect and friendship.

At your invitation, I am making my first state visit to your country. It has only one goal: to confirm France’s determination to further strengthen our ties with Japan.

Our relations are indeed exceptional. It was Claude Lévi-Strauss, a great French intellectual, who gave them this description: “Separated by immense spaces, situated on their fringes, France and Japan appear to turn their backs on one another. And yet the two countries share the same destiny.”

We are bound by our commitment to democracy. That is the message I addressed to the representatives of the Japanese people before the Diet, Asia’s oldest Parliament. Our two countries also promote worldwide the same respect for human rights and the freedom of peoples.

Our two countries serve the cause of peace. France stands beside you, as I reiterated to the Diet and the Prime Minister, so that Japan will get her rightful seat on the United Nations Security Council.

France and Japan also share cultures. Artistic and intellectual exchanges preceded the establishment of our diplomatic relations 155 years ago.

From the 18th century, French craftspeople drew inspiration from Japanese objects. The great refinement of your creations was a subject of marvel for our greatest artists. What was called “Japanism” was born in France and greatly marked European art in the second half of the 19th century. It triggered the impressionist revolution.

The house and garden of Claude Monet in Giverny, which Prince Hitachi visited in 2007, still pay a vibrant tribute to your aesthetics.

French people’s admiration for Japanese culture has never waned since. Our interest in Japan now reaches a very wide public captivated by literature, cinema, performing arts, architecture, gastronomy and even martial arts.

Next year will be the 90th anniversary of the establishment of French-Japanese cultural relations with the creation of the French-Japanese House in 1924 by Paul Claudel and Shibusawa Eiichi. This celebration will be an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the cultural exception.

Throughout their history, our two countries have developed particularly fruitful partnerships. This is why, on this state visit, I intend to expand our cooperation in all areas – political, economic, cultural, technological, scientific and educational.

Your Imperial Majesty,

You were particularly involved in comforting the victims of the Fukushima disaster barely two years ago. In France, a spontaneous movement of solidarity was born, a clear sign of our friendship and also a symbol of your country’s ability to overcome an ordeal with unity, dignity and courage.

It is thanks to this bravery that Japan has successfully managed to rebuild in the disaster areas in an exemplary way. France is ready to support you on this path.

Your Imperial Majesty,

I am keenly aware of your personal involvement in the development of our relations, as shown by your last visit to France in 1994. You recalled the visit you paid as Crown Prince in 1953. So it would be a great pleasure to welcome you and your family to France when you are free to visit again and decide to do so.

In the meantime, Your Imperial Majesty, I’m now going to propose a toast in honour of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan and Her Imperial Majesty. I wish the Japanese people prosperity and happiness./.

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