On May 3, 2018, an event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Canada, hosted by the city of Mississauga, was held in Mississauga Civic Centre. In this remarkable 90th year since the beginning of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Mississauga—a sister city to the city of Kariya in Aichi prefecture—was selected as the site of celebration.
Mississauga, a symbol of the lasting friendship between Japan and Canada
At the start of the ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared in a video message, surprising the audience. He commented on the strength of the bond between Japan and Canada and emphasized that this bond has been created upon a strong foundation of democracy and economic development, both of which are valued by the two countries. In particular, the Prime Minister commended the efforts put in by the city of Mississauga, pointing out that the city is a symbol of the lasting friendship between Japan and Canada. Finally, he expressed his hopes for the relationship to further strengthen in the future, allowing it to last for many more years to come.
The role of Japanese professionalism and culture in the diversity of Ontario
Next, Kathleen Wynne, the then Premier of Ontario, gave her greetings on paper. After expressing her greetings and thanks to the city of Mississauga and the Consulate General, she pointed out the importance of the long-lasting relationship between Japan and Canada. Specifically, she noted that Japan is one of the most important partners for Canada in Pacific. She explained that this relationship is established upon political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries and is bolstered by common values and mutual respect. Furthermore, she pointed out that many residents of Ontario trace their roots back to Japan. “Their skills, knowledge, values and rich traditions have helped create the multicultural success story of the province,” she commented. Finally, she highlighted the importance of and her joy upon celebrating such a friendly and enduring relationship.
When Japan succeeds, Mississauga succeeds.
Next spoke Bonnie Crombie, the Mayor of Mississauga, who began by highlighting the importance of the city of Mississauga in the relationship between Canada and Japan. “Currently, as the third-largest economy in the world, Japan’s economic influence on the global stage only continues to grow,” she commented. She also pointed out that as many Japanese enterprises work towards global expansion, Canada, as a country that has a 90-year old relationship with Japan, plays a vital role. “As the heart of a vast network of transportation, Mississauga is a leading destination for Japanese companies to invest, grow and reach customers in the global market,” she explained. As a testament to that, there are close to 100 Japanese businesses in the community at Mississauga, including a wide range of industries including consumer electronics, automobiles, pharmaceuticals and aerospace.
Mayor Crombie herself visited Japan twice and contributed to bringing in Japanese enterprises to Canada. Moreover, she pointed out that the resemblance between the business environment of Japan and that of Canada is another reason why many Japanese enterprises choose Mississauga as their home. “They both encourage innovation and possess a high regard for a talented labor pool that meets the demands of emerging markets,” she stated. She added that such commonalities are crucial upon strengthening the relationship and expressed her will to continue welcoming Japanese companies into Mississauga as a starting point for their expansion to North America.
“In addition to the economic ties, cultural ties are just as important,” Mayor Crombie pointed out. This year marks the 37th anniversary of the relationship between Mississauga and the city of Kariya in Aichi prefecture as sister cities, and their relationship continues to grow. Kariya Park in Mississauga serves as a symbol for this relationship. Furthermore, Mayor Crombie highlighted the annual Japan Festival Canada held in Mississauga Celebration Square as the largest Japanese cultural event in North America to date, hosting 70,000 attendees last year. She expressed her gratitude for being able to serve as a place for both the economic and cultural relationship between the two countries. “When Japan succeeds, Mississauga succeeds,” she concluded, highlighting the strength of the bond.
A long, rough ride that led to an enduring relationship
Next, Consulate General Takako Ito gave her greetings and thanks to the audience and expressed her joy by stating that this celebration serves as a manifestation of the friendly relationship between Japan and the city of Mississauga. She then discussed the 90-year long history of the diplomatic relationship between Japan and Canada, commenting that the ride was not always an easy one. In particular, trading between the two countries became stagnant after the Great Depression of 1929. Furthermore, Japanese Canadians suffered racial discrimination during the Second World War and were forced to internment camps. Meanwhile, many Canadian POWs lost their lives under captivity in Japan. However, diplomatic relations were restored after the war, and today, the enduring relationship is formed upon the basis of values such as democracy, human rights and a free market economy. In particular, she highlighted that Mississauga has always played a vital role in the relationship, particularly when Japanese enterprises come to Canada. Furthermore, she discussed the importance of the sister-city relationship between Mississauga and Kariya, emphasizing the friendship between the citizens of the two cities. She expressed her gratitude towards Mississauga Friendship Association and commended their significant contributions towards the relationship. She concluded by expressing her wishes for an even stronger and enduring relationship between Japan and Canada, and Kariya and Mississauga, and demonstrated her determination for continuing efforts to nurture these relationships.
Following the speeches, a toast was given by Mayor Crombie. The guests, while celebrating the 90-year relationship between Canada and Japan, joined the toast along with their wishes for the relationship to become a lasting one.
Reassured that Mississauga will serve as a bridge between the two countries
Teruyuki Wakasa, the organizer of Japan Festival in Mississauga, commented on the economic relationship between the two countries, while expressing his gratitude towards Mayor Crombie for leading the expansion of Japanese companies into Canada. Furthermore, he hopes that events such as this one would provide the opportunity to further promote the “Japan Brand” within Canada and would serve as a bridge between the two countries. In the future, he would like to see the diplomatic relationship to strengthen even more through large-scale events, such as the Tokyo Olympics, which will be happening in two years’ time.
Takuji Sakai, the executive director of JETRO Toronto, thanked the city of Mississauga for its significant contributions to the 90-year diplomatic relationship between Japan and Canada. “It is important for more Japanese companies to come to Mississauga to nurture the economic relationship between the two countries,” he added. Finally, he concluded by expressing his determination to promote the city of Mississauga to companies in Japan.
Following the reception, Consulate General Ito shared her comments as well. While expressing her sincere gratitude to Mississauga for hosting such a significant celebration, she could not deny she was both surprised and grateful witnessing President Trudeau deliver his message.
While this ceremony allowed all to recognize the long and enduring relationship between Canada and Japan once again, it is our wish for the relationship to continue and thrive even more in the years to come.