A GRAND reception was held in Penang to celebrate Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 81st birthday.
Some 200 people, including foreign dignitaries and heads of charity foundations, attended the event which was held at Jen Hotel in George Town on Wednesday.
The night started off with state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, who represented Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, proposing a toast to the emperor. Japanese consul-general to Penang, Ryuji Noda, reciprocated by proposing a toast to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
In his speech, Noda said the arrival of Japanese tourists to Penang had increased over the years and that it was heartening to note the close bilateral ties between the state and Japan.
“We have become close over the years and I hope we will be even closer in the future,” he said.
Phee, in his address, said Japanese tourists represented a big segment of tourist arrivals to Penang over the years and he hoped for greater cooperation in all areas in years to come.
The guests were treated to a sumptuous buffet spread which included Japanese delicacies such as sushi, tempura prawns and sashimi as well as local dishes like satay and fried rice. There was also an assortment of cakes and fruits for dessert.
Among those present were Star Publica-tions (M) Bhd executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim and Poland honorary consul in Penang Datuk Suppiah Manickam.