To mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Spain, Synergy Media Specialists (SMS) interviewed Masashi Mizukami, the Japanese Ambassador to Spain.

How have you enjoyed your time in Spain so far? What has been your most enjoyable Spanish cultural experience?

I am enjoying my time in Spain greatly since arriving and I am very happy to be here. The country’s rich history and the diversity found in Spanish culture are outstanding: the historical influences of Christians and Muslims are noteworthy and the beautiful nature found across Spain is breathtaking. Throughout history, Spanish people have been open and welcoming to other cultures and there is a great amount of interest in Japanese culture. As the ambassador of Japan to Spain, I am very happy to be here.

How would you describe the current relationship between Japan and Spain in terms of trade, economy and culture?

There are a number of Japanese companies active in the Spanish market and they are achieving success here in Spain. In terms of economic activities, many Japanese companies are working in partnership with Spanish companies. Japanese companies understand the requirements of managing large projects and are very active in infrastructure development. Following the tsunami in Japan and the large construction projects being undertaken for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the Japanese domestic construction sector is very strong.

Today, many Japanese businesses are strengthening their partnerships with their Spanish counterparts and are working on major infrastructure projects in third countries. Spanish people are very interested in Japanese culture and engage in various activities and events. As ambassador, I appreciate the interest being shown in Japanese culture and continue to support these efforts to bring Spain and Japan closer together.

As Spain and Japan mark 150 years of relations, what role is the embassy playing to help celebrate this milestone anniversary?

Several hundred events are being organized to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Spain. Several events are being organized directly by the embassy, including a fashion show by Junko Koshino and performances by the acclaimed kabuki group Heisei Nakamuraza. In addition, the Spanish Embassy in Japan is also hosting events.

What steps can be taken to further strengthen the ties between Spain and Japan and what opportunities will be created by closer ties?

I have no doubt many Spanish people have a strong interest in Japan, and today there are also many Japanese people living in Spain. We want to encourage Spanish visitors to Japan to experience the country and see the many attractions found across Japan. I am confident our relationship will continue over time and become deeper as both sides strengthen their commitment to one another.

What message do you have for our readers regarding the 150 year celebrations and the future of the Spain-Japan relationship?

I would like to see more Japanese visitors experience Spain and, likewise, we invite Spanish visitors to spend time in Japan. The events marking the 150th anniversary of bilateral ties are sure to bring our two countries closer together.