A host of government officials led by Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and several members of the Japanese community and distinguished guests on Saipan joined officials and staff of the Consular Office of Japan on Saipan to celebrate the 61st birthday of Emperor Naruhito Wednesday night at the poolside of Aqua Resort Club.
As has become a traditional yearly event, the Consular Office of Japan on Saipan, led this year by Japanese Consul Kazuhiko Ono, marked the special occasion with a sumptuous dinner, a mochitsuki ceremony, a display of swordsmanship, and a performance by the Saipan Awaodori Team.
In his speech at the start of the event, Ono expressed optimism about the CNMI’s future, despite the current crises facing the Commonwealth. “The CNMI has overcome many obstacles,” he said. “I sincerely believe that the CNMI will show the will of resilience and overcome this time of hardship.”
Ono also expressed deep condolences to those who lost their loved ones due to COVID-19, sympathy for everyone greatly affected by the pandemic, and appreciation for all front-liners, including the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and medical teams who are working tirelessly against COVID-19. Ono also acknowledged the strict border enforcement measures in the CNMI that has resulted in zero cases of community transmission.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios acknowledged the CNMI’s longstanding relationship with Japan. “The relationship between the Marianas and Japan is over 100 years old and, since 1914, our history, lifestyle, [and] culture have remained intertwined,” he said.
Palacios said the CNMI’s leaders and its people, through the Marianas Visitors Authority and Commonwealth Ports Authority, will continue to work with their Japanese partners, tourism and airline industries, local Japanese businesses, and the community to revive this historic and important market.
Ono, Palacios, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, and other government officials performed the mochitsuki, which is a Japanese ceremony that showcases the traditional preparation of mochi, or rice cakes, a Japanese delicacy, which is usually done during momentous occasions.
Performances by the Saipan Awaodori Team and “Nihon Kendo Kata”— a traditional teaching of swordsmanship, performed by Masanori Takahashi and Mamoru Kadokura—kept the guests entertained as they enjoyed a variety of Japanese dishes and wine.
“I would like to finish by saying that we have learned many things from the COVID-19 pandemic” said Ono, “Now is the time that we must all work together and give it our all by showing the Hafa Adai spirit! Marianas, be strong!”