Good evening and warmly welcome to celebrate the first hundred years of Finland’s sovereignty with us.
In the year 1917, on Thursday the 6th of December, our Parliament in Helsinki approved Finland's Declaration of Independence.
A century ago my country was very different from where we are today. Finland was then one of the poorest corners of Europe, the society was deeply divided politically and, in the aftermath of the First World War, our external security situation was extremely uncertain.
Despite these humble and even dangerous beginnings, during the years and decades that followed, the citizens of Finland were able to build a stable, democratic and economically prosperous country. We are also proud to be one of the societies with the highest level of social and gender equality in the world.
This success was created mainly with hard work, perseverance and stubbornness. In Finnish we call the combination of these "SISU". But our current well-being is also a result of intelligent investments in education and early adaptation of new technologies.
Our two most significant natural resources have been - and still are - the trees that grow in our forests and the brains of our children. In my opinion we have managed to nurture, develop and use both of these strengths very well.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Throughout its history, Finland has been an open economy and a staunch supporter of internationalism. We are deeply committed to the very successful Nordic cooperation, which today means much more than just the welfare state system.
We also see further integration in Europe to be in our national interest, and therefore we work actively together with our partners in the European Union to develop the unique form of shared sovereignty that the EU represents.
But we also know that all the countries of the world must work together to address the global problems that face humanity as a whole. We in Finland believe that the only way to sustainably care for our common planet is to maintain and support the multilateral institutions as well as to respect and uphold international law.
In my country, we place a high importance to well-being at work, which we see as a factor contributing to individual creativity and organizational productivity.
I am happy to report to you today that after having worked for 15 months as Ambassador of Finland in Japan, my personal job satisfaction is on a very, very high level.
This is not only because we have an entirely positive and forward-looking bilateral agenda between our governments, but also because the Japanese people genuinely admire and appreciate so many different aspects of Finnish culture and lifestyle.
And the same is true for my countrymen also: they are highly interested in Japan and like the many things it has to offer. In the minds of Finns, Japan is truly cool indeed.
We can therefore prepare confidently for the year 2019, when the two countries celebrate the first century of our diplomatic relations. I hope to count on your support and co-operation to make that anniversary as successful as the past Finland100 year has been.
The theme chosen for this year has been "together", and that is also how Japan and Finland will continue building their relationship and a better world during the next 100 years.
Thank you very much.
Ambassador of Finland