Vienna, 30 December 2009 - "In 2009, Austria has presented itself to the Japanese public as a culturally and economically innovative country. Despite the geographical distance between us, it was possible to build new bridges of curiosity and sympathy between Austria and Japan, with several different projects and events", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in connection with the concluding „Austria-Japan Year 2009“, which was organized to celebrate the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Japanese Empire 140 years ago.
The formal opening of the anniversary year took place in January during a Viennese ball in Tokyo, attended by Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. In late September, an Austrian delegation visited Japan, consisting of Federal President Heinz Fischer and his wife, Federal Ministers Johannes Hahn, Claudia Schmied, Doris Bures, Reinhold Mitterlehner, and the President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce Christoph Leitl. In early May, Japan’s Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko paid a visit to Austria.
A total of over 300 individual events were organized during the year, attended by more than 1.2 million visitors. Next to performances by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the "Mozarteum" attracted special attention. The Mozarteum brought Mozart's child violin to Japan, the sound of which moved music-loving Japanese audiences when it was played by 14-year old violin player Hiroka Matsumoto. The Austrian tourist industry also benefited from the friendship year: Overnight stays by Japanese tourists in Vienna rose by 6.7% between January and November this year.
"I am convinced that this year, both in Japan and in Austria, we have succeeded in awakening lasting attention and interest for the culture and the lifestyle of the respective partner country. We must now make use of this great mutual sympathy and transfer it to other areas such as business, science, innovation, and youth culture", said the Foreign Minister.
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