Kanji Fujiki confers the Order of the Rising Sun on Abdullah Nasser Al Suwaidi during a ceremony in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Japan still cherishes the UAE’s help that saved many lives during the 2011 deadly earthquake in Japan, a top diplomat said.

“LNG [Liquefied Natural Gas] was additionally supplied from the UAE to Japan based on the UAE’s special and kind decision that really saved many lives in the damaged area. Japanese people will never forget this invaluable decision,” said Kanji Fujiki, the Japanese Ambassador to the UAE.

He was referring to the devastating 9.0-magnitude quake — which struck under the Pacific Ocean on March 11, 2011 — and a resulting tsunami that caused widespread damage and claimed the lives of thousands of people.

Abdullah Nasser Al Suwaidi, member of the Supreme Petroleum Council and former CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), was deeply involved in the UAE’s decision to extend that timely help, Fujiki said at an event to honour Al Suwaidi on Monday evening.

The envoy conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, from the Emperor of Japan on Al Suwaidi who is also the chairman of Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, in recognition of his contributions to fostering relations between Japan and the UAE, in the presence of top Emirati and Japanese officials.

The ambassador said Al Suwaidi strenuously promoted human exchange between two countries, which would eventually support the development and prosperity of both nations. He was also involved in starting up bilateral cooperation in downstream refining area, which has been proven very effective in improving refining capability of the two countries, Fujiki said.

Al Suwaidi also played a pivotal role in awarding Japan a new historic onshore oil concession in 2015, which was a vitally important decision for Japan in terms of energy security and economic prosperity, the envoy said.

Expressing his gratitude to the Japanese Emperor and the government for the honour, Al Suwaidi said the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan laid the foundation of the UAE-Japanese relations. He was impressed by the hard work of Japanese people.

As early as 1960s, many Japanese companies started investing in Abu Dhabi’s oil sector and many partnerships were forged.

Al Suwaidi recollected Shaikh Zayed’s visit to Japan in 1990 when Japanese people extended hearty welcome to him and explained the further progress in bilateral relations over the years.

Suhail Mohammad Faraj Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy and Industry, congratulated Al Suwaidi and his leadership when he was the CEO of Adnoc. “We graduated from the big school called Adnoc from where we learnt tolerance, leadership and how to be open to friendly relations with foreign counties such as Japan. We are proud of our relationships with Japan,” he said.

Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, Minister of State and CEO of Adnoc, was also present at the ceremony.

Keizo Morikawa, president of the UAE-Japan Society, who came all the way from Japan to attend the ceremony, said he specially appreciated Al Suwaidi’s leadership in the UAE for providing stable oil supply to Japan. “The excellent relationship between our two countries is not only in the field of business but also in other areas such as culture, education and health care,” he said.