On Jan. 31, the Embassy of Hungary in Tokyo hosted a party to celebrate the launch of the V4 plus Japan Exchange Year 2014.

The V4, made up of the Visegrad Group or Visegrad Four, is a regional cooperation uniting the four Central European countries of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The group was founded in 1991 to work together in a variety of areas of common interest.

As the V4 relationship with Japan marks its 10th anniversary, 2014 was nominated as the V4 plus Japan Exchange Year. The occasion is expected to provide a good opportunity for Japan to gain a better understanding of the region in terms of opportunities in commerce, culture and tourism.

About 50 people, including the V4 ambassadors, Japanese government officials and goodwill ambassadors attended the event.

As Hungary currently holds the group’s rotating presidency, the Ambassador of Hungary Istvan Szerdahelyi, provided the opening remarks. Following his speech, the other three ambassadors: Czech Ambassador Katerina Fialkova; Polish Ambassador Cyryl Kozaczewski; and Slovak Ambassador Michal Kottman also spoke.

On behalf of Japanese government, Takao Makino, parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs addressed the attendees.

To promote exchanges between the countries, each country chose a goodwill ambassador for the exchange year. Noting the strong history of classical music in the V4 countries, Japan named actress and pianist Nao Matsushita, while the goodwill ambassador from Hungary is singer and actor Mate Kamaras. Both stressed they will work toward furthering friendship through culture, art and general cooperation.

The other three goodwill ambassadors, Polish singer and musician Anna Maria Jopek; Czech violinist Pavel Sporcl; and Slovak scholar Vladimír Bužek were introduced by their embassies.

During the latter part of the event, the official logo of the exchange year was unveiled. The logo was chosen out of 114 submissions to symbolize the amicable relationship between the five countries.

Throughout the year, many cultural exchanges, such as classical music concerts, art exhibitions and film screenings will be held in each country to deepen cultural understanding.

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