As Japan is all set to celebrate the 61st birthday of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday (today), Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Matsuda Kuninori has stressed the need for deepening Pakistan-Japan relations. “We must renew ourselves to further develop our close relations and make a firm resolve to deepen our cherished ties, which will amplify the welfare of people of both the countries, the ambassador said, expressing his sincere gratitude and appreciation to the government and the people of Pakistan for extending their messages of felicitation and good wishes for the emperor and his family. In a statement on the eve of the birthday on Monday, the ambassador said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the embassy this year will not host a grand reception in Islamabad, which is usually an annual feature to celebrate the auspicious occasion. Since his accession to the throne on 1st May 2019 as the 126th Emperor of Japan, Naruhito stands as the symbol of Japan and of the unity of the people. His Majesty and the imperial family facilitate the fostering of good relations with foreign countries including Pakistan. Matsuda, while recalling the cherished memories of Pakistan’s relationship with the Japanese Imperial House, said that His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Her Majesty the Empress Emerita Michiko, who are the parents of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito, visited Pakistan as the then-crown prince and princess in 1962, on the 10th anniversary of Pakistan-Japan diplomatic relations which became the first visit by the members of the Imperial House to Pakistan. Also, President Dr Arif Alvi and First Lady Samina Alvi, on the invitation of the government of Japan, paid an official visit to Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito in October 2019. Highlighting the decade’s old historical and amicable relations between Japan and Pakistan, the ambassador said that Japan has remained one of the major bilateral development partners of Pakistan since 1954, extending assistance in multi-faceted sectors. The total amount of Japan’s economic assistance to Pakistan by March 2020 amounts to $13 billion and this makes Japan the second largest economic partner of Pakistan, said the ambassador.