New Year Message from Ambassador MATSUNAGA Kazuyoshi


Happy New Year!
I am MATSUNAGA Kazuyoshi, Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria. As we welcome 2024, I am reminded of my journey in this vibrant country, now entering its third year. During this period, my connection with Nigeria has deepened, as has my love for Nigerian cuisine such as catfish pepe soup. Last year I discovered the delights of okra soup with prawns, a dish that combines the best of land and sea. It is a perfect metaphor for our bilateral efforts over the past year, where the combination of different elements has added value to our joint endeavors.
2023 was a momentous year, marked, in particular, by the inauguration of H.E. President Bola Tinubu. On that occasion, the Japanese Government sent a special envoy, Mr. TANAKA Kazunori, a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Japan-Nigeria Parliamentary Friendship League, to pay a courtesy call on H.E. President Bola Tinubu and deliver a letter of support from H.E. KISHIDA Fumio, the Prime Minister of Japan. Our cooperation has paved the way for economic growth and strengthened bilateral ties.
Our 2023 relationship began and ended with business, as we have seen remarkable progress. The Nigeria-Japan Business Forum in Tokyo held in January, attended by about 100 Nigerian government officials and business representatives, and the Lagos International Trade Fair in Lagos in held November 2023, where 33 Japanese companies participated, are testimonies of our growing economic partnership. Japanese companies are increasingly contributing to Nigeria's economic landscape, as evidenced by the groundbreaking ceremony for Otsuka Neuroceuticals' new plant in Ogun State. This represents not only our economic ties, but also our commitment to creating employment opportunities and promoting growth.
In the security sector, Japan's contributions have been instrumental in strengthening Nigeria's capacity to combat piracy and protect civilians from violent extremism and armed conflict. Our specialized training courses and plan to provide high-speed boats have led and will continue to lead to a further reduction in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, thereby improving the security landscape and paving the way for further Japanese investment. This synergy between security and economic growth is a testament to the strength of our bilateral relationship.
Cultural and sporting exchanges have also flourished. From the donation of uniforms of various Japanese martial arts such as karate, judo, and aikido, to the organization of Japanese martial arts events such as the 2nd Japanese Ambassador's Karate Tournament. These initiatives symbolize our commitment to cultural exchange and mutual understanding.
Professor KITAOKA Shinichi, Special Advisor to the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, delivered a lecture on Japanese modernization to students and scholars at the University of Abuja. The aim was to help Nigeria build its capacity for sustainable development by learning from Japan's experience. After the lecture, I donated manga books, further underscoring our desire to connect and engage with Nigeria's youth and foster future leaders who appreciate the richness of diverse cultures.
Looking ahead, we are focusing on the upcoming 9th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD 9, in 2025, by inviting all African leaders and representatives of international organizations to Japan. This year will be crucial in laying the groundwork for a successful conference and further cementing our partnership.
In closing, I look forward to a future rich in cooperation and mutual growth in 2024. Just as the diverse ingredients in a Nigerian dish come together to create something extraordinary, so too do our collective efforts yield fruitful results.
We look forward to another year of continued friendship, cooperation and prosperity between Japan and Nigeria.
Thank you.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan
to the Federal Republic of Nigeria