TOKYO: Japan and Singapore have marked 50 years of normalised ties. A memorandum of cooperation was signed in Singapore on Jan 18, and a big kick-off event was held in Tokyo on Thursday (Jan 28), part of a year-long celebration of SJ50.
The logo of SJ50 is in red - to represent the colour of the flags of both countries - and gold, for the Golden Jubilee. It also features the symbols of both countries, Mt. Fuji and the Merlion.
The mascot representing Japan is the iconic Hello Kitty, while for Singapore it is Doritan, a boy wearing a durian-like decoration and a Merlion T-shirt.
Mascots Doritan (left) and Hello Kitty. (Photo: Michiyo Ishida)
Guests at the launch event enjoyed a lion dance and mouth-watering cuisines of both countries. The drink served to guests was not the Singapore Sling but the Sakura Sling, mixed with Japanese sake.
“Singapore is a lot (more) advanced in quality tourism, but Japan is in a learning process,” said Ryoichi Matsuyama, president of the Japan National Tourism Organisation. “We want to learn what kinds of thing we can do to establish quality of tourism.”
Japan drew a record number of tourists in 2015 - close to 20 million - but that is still small considering the size of its economy.
Meanwhile, Singapore hopes the event will encourage more Japanese to visit the Republic.
“There’s been a decrease in numbers after looking at the first 11 month of arrivals from Japan,” said Singapore Tourism Board assistant chief executive Leong Yue Kheong. “But on the other hand, if you look at tourism receipts, the Japanese traveller spends a very good amount. They enjoy and consume different offerings in Singapore.”
There will be six weeks of promotion of Singapore food at 17 restaurants in Japan. Singapore airlines will also hold special promotions for Japanese customers. Changi Airport is expected to be decorated with beautiful flower arrangements by renowned artist Shogo Kariyazaki.
Japan's famous flower arrangement master Shogo Kariyazaki. (Photo: Michiyo Ishida)
Japanese tourism agencies are arranging tours of not just a combination of hotels and flights; they will also include cultural and culinary experiences.
A movie with Japanese and Singaporean actors and actress produced by Eric Khoo is expected to be out at the end of this commemorative year.