The members of the Canadian-Japanese musical group Monkey Majik were appointed goodwill ambassadors by Canada on Wednesday to promote events commemorating the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Ottawa this year.
Canadian Ambassador to Japan Jonathan Fried handed letters of appointment to the four-member pop group, which consists of two Canadians and two Japanese, in a ceremony at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.
The musicians are scheduled to perform for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko when the Imperial Couple visit Ottawa next month to mark the anniversary, Fried said.
Maynard Plant, a 33-year-old vocalist and guitarist from Ottawa, said in fluent Japanese at the ceremony that he feels “very honored” to be chosen as a goodwill envoy and that it would be a “once in a lifetime chance” to perform before the couple.
He later told reporters that he thinks the Emperor is “the embodiment of Japan” and he felt overwhelmed at learning the band will have an audience with the royal couple.
Fried said the Imperial Couple’s visit is “a testimony to both the breadth and depth of the relationship” between Canada and Japan, and expected the Emperor and Empress will “highlight how valuable we are to each other.”
The other Monkey Majik members are Maynard’s younger brother, Blaise, 29, also a vocalist and guitarist, Japanese drummer tax, 33, and bass guitarist Dick, 31.
Last year, the band members were appointed by the Japanese government as Tokyo’s goodwill ambassadors to promote events commemorating the 80th anniversary. Japan set 2008 as the landmark year as the country opened its embassy in Ottawa in 1928, while Canada launched its diplomatic mission in Tokyo the following year.
The band was formed in 2000 in Sendai.
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