Birthday bash for Japan’s emperor

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Posted on Feb 21 2020

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Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, third from right, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, third from left, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, second from left, and Japanese Consul to the CNMI Kazuhiko Ono, left, join other officials for the breaking of a cask of sake—a Japanese traditional ceremony called kagami-biraki—at the 60th birthday celebration for newly-seated Japanese Emperor Naruhito at the Fiesta Hall of the Grandvrio Resort Saipan last Feb. 19. The party was hosted by the Japan Consulate on Saipan. (JUSTINE NAUTA)

A host of officials led by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and several members of the Japanese community on Saipan came together with the Japanese Consulate in the CNMI to celebrate the 60th birthday of newly-seated Emperor Naruhito last Feb. 19 at the Fiesta Hall of the Grandvrio Resort Saipan.

Japanese Consul to Saipan Kazuhiko Ono and his wife, Masako, together with the rest of the Japan Consulate, welcomed all the guests with the hope of further strengthening the ties between Japan and the CNMI.

“I would like to further strengthen the bond between Japan and the CNMI, but maintaining and further strengthening the relationship would not be possible without the assistance of each individual here today,” said Ono. He also asked that everyone in attendance continue to support and cooperate so that the ties between Japan and the CNMI can remain intact and potentially become stronger.

After opening remarks from Ono, Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, the assembled crowd gathered in front of the stage for the kagami-biraki ceremony— a Japanese traditional ceremony that refers to the breaking of a cask of sake during a party or ceremony. The lid of the sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet and the sake, a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, is served to everyone present.

It wasn’t all just sushi and sashimi. The Japanese Consulate also prepared several booths to introduce some Japanese products to the guests. The booths included a sake booth and a Japanese rice booth. Skymark Airlines also prepared a booth that introduced domestic flights to Japan and Pacific Development Inc. also showcased the Japan Railway Pass.

Emperor Naruhito’s reign officially began on May 1, 2019, after his father, 85-year-old former Emperor Akihito, who reigned for 30 years and became the first reigning monarch to abdicate the throne in over 200 years, surrendered the position in April 30, 2019, due to old age and declining health.

Torres thanked Ono and his wife, Masako, for inviting him to help celebrate the emperor’s birthday and the Japanese investors and visitors for helping building the Marianas tourism industry for the past 40 years. He assured that his administration—through the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Commonwealth Ports Authority—will continue to work with the Japanese tourism, airlines, businesses, and community on “revitalizing this historic and important market.”

“In honor of the Emperor Naruhito’s Reiwa era, we pray for peace, harmony, and prosperity between the Marianas and Japan. Lt. Gov. Palacios and I will continue to work with everyone here to strengthen our historic friendship,” said Torres. “Goserichou arigatu gozaimasu.”

Justine Nauta Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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